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Urban Observations

Winner of the 2012 Mulert Award

Winner of the 2012 "Juergen Mulert Memorial Award on Mutual Understanding" is Mr. Janosch Delcker and his project "Urban Observations". 

Mr. Delcker realized a series of short videos in which he portrays artists in New York City and Berlin, respectively. The German Fulbright Alumni Association chose "Urban Observations" for its ability to esthetically foster William Fulbright's idea of "waging peace through mutual understanding".

The award ceremony will be held in Schwerin during the Association's Winter Ball. 

Urban Obserations
Mulert Award Winning Art Project

 

The Protagonists

The featured artists were supposed to represent a cross section of artists working in the respective city. Urban Observations, therefore, included various genders, ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and ages. The youngest one is in his late 20s, the oldest one in her early 60s. Some of them are very established, some of them up-and-coming. Some of them are natives to their cities, some of them from other parts of the country; some of them are foreigners living in the city.

 

Featured Artists

1. Drag Queens: Linda Simpson (New York), Gina Tonic (Berlin)
2. Cartoonists: Isaac Littlejohn Eddie (New York), Ulli Lust (Berlin)
3. Curator: Andrianna Campbell (New York), Nico Anklam (Berlin)
4. Filmmaker: Joshua Sanchez (New York), Stephanie von Beauvais (Berlin)
5. Author: Wickham Boyle (New York), Anton Waldt (Berlin)
6. Painter: Benjamin Weber (New York), Chris Winter (Berlin)

 

Janosch Delcker on Urban Oberservations

Mutual understanding is not just a topic to be examined by researchers. It is also a story to be told: The reality on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean has to be brought ‘over there’; it has to be reported, in order to reach a broad audience, and, more importantly, to be understood.

Personal stories ought to be told. As an aspiring video journalist, this is what I have done in my video series Urban Observation; this is how I am seeking to do my part in implementing mutual understanding between the United States and Europe.

While living in New York City as a recipient of the Fulbright Scholarship, I often heard people tell me that New York and Berlin “are like sisters.” Comparing Berlin to New York – primarily to a nostalgic, idealized version of New York in the 1980s – seemed to be en vouge. This raised my interest: Does this statement stand up to closer scrutiny, or is it just a “hypochondria of the heart,” as literature scholar Svetlana Boym once called the longing for a long-passed epoch one never experienced himself or herself?

Researchers of various disciplines, such as sociology, geography, economics and political science, have collected and compared empirical data regarding New York and Berlin. Without question, those disciplines are rightly established and are endued with elaborate, effective methods. However, I would argue, they alone cannot grasp the Urban Question in total. In particular, the notion of an Urban Ideology of people living in cities is often times neglected by empirical research.

In a non-academic way, my video series Urban Observations was meant to contribute something to this academic void; less by answering questions – this can only be done by the “hard” academic disciplines – but by raising questions through documenting day-to-day experience of individuals within the cities. This
was my main motivation to produce this series featuring 12 artists who speak about their own urban reality; who speak not only about how they live in these cities, but also how they perceive them. By juxtaposing New York and Berlin, the series also automatically challenges and questions the previously mentioned notion of two “sister cities.”

Why artists, though? As a journalist, I strongly believe that the proverbial woman at the hotdog booth has just as many stories to tell as the world-famous opera singer. However, in this particular project, I wanted to work with visual artists for various reasons. I feel that by nature of their profession, visual artists are extraordinarily attentive to their surroundings and the society and place/space around them. The underlying concept for the twelve videos in
the series was to form a mosaic — portraits of the cities New York and Berlin. Documenting the observations of visual artists seemed to provide the most promising breeding ground for that.

Christoph Janosch Delcker, M.A.

born October 22, 1985, is a video journalist based in Berlin and Brooklyn, New York. Heʼs produced and published videos for i.a. Spiegel Online, The New York Times, ZDF Online, and dpa (Deutsche Presse Agentur). Furthermore, he has published print articles in i.a. European Voice (The Economist), Die Tageszeitung (taz) and Idealist Magazine.

He holds a Bachelorʼs degree in Literature, Music and Media from Humboldt-University, Berlin, and Universidad de Salamanca, Spain. In 2009/10, he spent one year on a Fulbright scholarship at the Department of German at New York University, where he finished his Masterʼs degree in German Literature and Media in May 2011.

Since then, heʼs been working as a freelance video journalist in Berlin, Germany.

 
Members Section

Contact:

Steffen Schmuck-Soldan

mulert.award [at] fulbright-alumni.de