The prestigious £25,000 Charles Wollaston Award has been won by Uta Kögelsberger for her video work, Cull, in the Royal Academy
s 254th Summer Exhibition. Established in 1978 and presented to the most distinguished work in the exhibition, it is one of the most significant art prizes awarded in the UK.
Kögelsbergers 5-channel video installation Cull follows the gigantic task of the clear-up process after the devastating impact of wildfires. It charts the efforts of the teams responsible for cutting down the dead trees left standing, that are now endangering the remaining structures and roads. In a metaphor for the suspended sense of emergency we find ourselves in, each tree is documented as it comes crashing to the ground, seemingly out of nowhere, like dead carcasses, sometimes falling with such force that the earth beneath them shake.
Cull is the anchor piece of Kögelsbergers multi-faceted project Fire Complex that she initiated after the 2020 California Castle Fire destroyed 174,000 acres of Sequoia National Forest, including an estimated 10-14% of the worlds Giant Sequoias and a large part of the community of Sequoia Crest, which also included Kögelsbergers cabin.
Fire Complex brings together photography and video in the public realm to raise momentum and resources for the regeneration of our forests. It also includes an ongoing collaborative replanting project. It is a project that starts with the personal to communicate a universal emergency and sets about making a difference for the future.
The judges for this years award were Martha Kapos, Ian Mckeever RA and Caroline Worthington. Previous winners of the Charles Wollaston Award: Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga (2021), Joe Tilson RA (2019), Mike Nelson RA (2018), Isaac Julien RA (2017), David Nash RA (2016), Rose Wylie RA (2015), Wolfgang Tillmans RA (2014), El Anatsui Hon RA (2013), Anselm Kiefer Hon RA (2012), Alison Wilding RA (2011) and Yinka Shonibare RA (2010).
Over £70,000 is offered in awards and prizes for every category of work in the Summer Exhibition. Further awards and prizes for this years exhibition will be announced in due course.
Uta Kögelsberger is a London based visual artist. Kögelsberger's artistic practice articulates and engages with social and political concerns through photography, video, sculpture, and sound. Recent projects have included Fire Complex, a series of billboards and video works in response to the impact of the 2020 California wildfires (2020-ongoing), Uncertain Subjects, a durational billboard performance in the public realm in response to the social and political landscape in the UK in the run up to Brexit (2017-2019), the installation Orchestra of Rocks bringing together sculpture, sound and live performances to create a visceral interpretation of the impact of climate change (2016-2019), and the video installation Off Road, part of a trilogy of works investigating how the notion of freedom is lived out in the Western USA in relation to landscape (2008-2014).
Kögelsbergers work has been exhibited at the Vincent Price Museum, Los Angeles, Northridge Galleries, Los Angeles, Art Night, London, Brighton Photo Biennial, Bluecoat, Liverpool, Spacex Exeter, Southwark Park Galleries, London, the Architectural Association, London, the Barbican, London, Laurence Miller Gallery, NYC, and the Glassell Project Space MFAH, Houston. She has been awarded the Stanley Picker Fellowship, the Berwick Gymnasium Fellowship, the EAA Award for Art in Architecture and the SPD silver medal for editorial photography. Her photographic essays have been published in Wired, Esquire, GQ and American Photography. Her work is held in public and private collections including the MFAH (Museum of Modern Art Houston) and the LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum).