Julius von Bismarck (*1983) is this year’s winner of the Art Prize of the City of Wolfsburg “Junge Stadt sieht Junge Kunst” (A Young City Sees Young Art), which is awarded every three years. In his works, the artist, who lives in Berlin, brings together art and science. With his installations, video works, and performances, Julius von Bismarck examines our patterns of perception and views of nature. He is consequently fascinated by natural phenomena and artistic interventions in nature, which first give rise to confusion at second glance.
For the exhibition at the Städtische Galerie Wolfsburg, he has dedicated himself to the highly topical issue of the forces of nature. In the past, he has already captured bolts of lightning, and worked them up into a video. He was in Italy to record the gigantic dimensions of the forest fires there, and he travelled to Miami, where Hurricane Irma left behind catastrophic damage. Julius von Bismarck is also interested in the division of power between earth, water, air, and fire. Today, however, the forces of nature, which have always shaped our lives, are appearing with destructive power.
The works of Julius von Bismarck, a master student of Olafur Eliasson, can be understood as artistic research, and, simultaneously, as an attempt and method that interweave art and science, which are generally understood as separate systems. “I draw my inspiration from science and work artistically”, he says. With his installations, video works, and performances, Julius von Bismarck examines the human sensory system and challenges our habits of perception. His interdisciplinary approach is a creative questioning of the world and nature, which human beings are transforming to an ever-greater extent.
Julius von Bismarck came to the attention of a broader public in 2015 when he presented his performance Egocentric System in the Unlimited section of Art Basel, a performance that quickly developed into a magnet for the public. In it, he positioned himself inside a quickly rotating concrete bowl. Sitting at a table or lying on a mattress, the artist tested space and speed, while the world outside his system was shifted to the periphery. In an earlier work, Landscape Painting (2015), he first had a bit of jungle in Mexico sprayed with white food colouring and then painted the leaves again in their original condition with a brush and acrylic paint. Or, in Punishment (2012), he flogged the Alps and the sea, inspired by the legend of King Xerxes I. His aim was to punish locations that artists have romanticised as idylls.
The art prize is connected with an exhibition at the Städtische Galerie Wolfsburg as well as a publication. In addition, one work is also acquired for the Städtische Kunstsammlung (Municipal Art Collection). The prize was awarded for the first time in 1959 and regards itself as an initiative to support artists in the middle of their careers. Ideally, it can act as a catalyser for looking back and developing further.