Sophia Bauer, Medienkunst-Stipendiatin des Landes NRW, 2021 © Sam Hopkins

Sophia Bauer (*1987), Ebersberg

NRW scholarship for female media artists (2021)

The 2021 scholarship of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia for female media artists was awarded to Sophia Bauer.

Members of the three-member jury were Heike Ander (cultural scientist and curator, Academy of Media Arts, Cologne), Tasja Langenbach (curator and artistic director of the Videonale, Bonn) and Nico Joana Weber (artist and NRW media art scholarship holder 2018). The jury selected the scholarship holder from 62 applications.

Statement of the Jury

At the centre of Sophia Bauer’s artistic practice is the examination of sound as a historical document and resource for new forms of knowledge production: “Thinking through sound as a network of connection and belonging helps us to question structures of exclusion,” says the artist. In doing so, she sees sound “as a medium that can critically illuminate the core ideas of the separation concepts of European imperialism and colonialism”. In her works – most recently mainly sound installations and sound archives – Sophia Bauer questions the traditional hierarchical structures of an asymmetrical power relationship between man and nature. With the help of sound recordings, the after-effects of colonial structures, as manifested for example in the biosocial (communication) networks of domesticated forests, are tracked down and revealed in order to create alternative contexts through recontextualization and to gain new insights for postcolonial discourses.

In her multipart work complex Forest Scapes (since 2019), Sophia Bauer investigates the influence of colonialism – inscribed in botanical and zoological taxonomy – on various forest landscapes. Following on from her sound installation “Kereita Forest Block” about a cypress plantation in the Kenyan highlands, the artist is now planning a comprehensive sound study of the “Arabuko Sokoke Forest”, one of the last remaining largely intact dry coastal forests in East Africa with an area of 420 square kilometres, as part of the NRW grant for media artists. Sophia Bauer’s acoustic reappraisal focuses on a rethinking of the network of relationships between inhabitants, users, places and plants. The artistic source material ranges from colonial reports from the National Archive of Kenya and interviews to the sounds of trees, birds and insects recorded with highly sensitive contact microphones. From this repertoire, Sophia Bauer programs a sound composition, which is arranged into a constantly changing sound web based on acoustic features and brought into a spatial installation. Sophia Bauer has convinced us with her sound study Forest Scapes: Arabuko Sokoke Forest, which promises to provide a complex, profound and political experience of natural spaces and cultural landscapes. We are pleased to be able to support this transcontinental project with the NRW grant for female media artists.

Heike Ander for the jury

Sophia Bauer (*1987 in Ebersberg) works primarily with sound, video and photography in her installative-multimedia works. She studied African languages, literature and art at the University of Bayreuth and graduated in 2019 from the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne.

Further information on the artist’s website.