The foundation ethecon
is happy to have found the well-known contemporary art photographer Katharina Mayer as a worthy successor for the artist Otto Piene. Katharina was the one who created the Blue Planet Award in a completely new way for the first time in 2010.

Katharina Mayer was born in 1958 in Rottweil am Neckar. After firstly studying art history in Freiburg, Katharina started studying photography at the academy of arts in Düsseldorf with the legendary pioneers of photo art Bernd and Hilla Becher as well as Nan Hoover.

Her first institutional exhibition took place in the art association Heilbronn in 1993. Already then the pictorial mediation of the human existence was one of her topics. Her art was awarded for the first time with a photo price in Essen in the same year.

There is no doubt that photography is the central role of Katharina Mayer’s work. But besides photography she also worked with cinematic media.

Her art, as it was created in the beginning of the 90s, was initially dominated by the presentation of individual, and statically understood figures in a picturesque room (1992 till 1997). Later on she took pictures of her motifs standing in front of monochrome light rooms (1998 till 2000). Her created picture series alternate between social policy issues and intrinsic explorations. But they also explore the question how humans behave nowadays and how they are. From 2000 on the landscape area also emerges.

Katharina Mayer understands her art in a social context. She is able to create a special form of attention and to establish completely new interpretative connections by staging her motifs in a bizarre way. She made, for example, Western, modern women wear headscarves and developed with them her (islamophile) “faked” series.

She is well-known for her family portraits as well as the depiction of homeless people. Outstanding are, amongst others, her work cycles “faked” “Séance”, “familia”, “Carrie and I” and the “banquet”. When she takes pictures of women “in their lost profile” in her series “Séance” she likes to refer back to old renaissance paintings or to the idea of man in the renaissance. In all her portraits she deals with the attitude of people: the relationship between inner and exterior attitude.

In 1995 Katharina Mayer started teaching photography at the Cultural Forum in Neuss. In 1996 she received a teaching assignment for photography at the technical college Düsseldorf and at the Federal Academy Wolfenbüttel. The scholarship of the Ernst Poensgen foundation enabled her to stay in New York for a while.

In 1998 a contribution of Sylvain Roumette was broadcasted in the TV channel ARTE in the context of her project “Maria Frieden” in Berlin.

In 1999 she founded together with other people onomato in Düsseldorf. Onomato is a publisher and art association at the same time. The special thing about onomato is the connection between the two – the publisher as an artistic research project.

Another scholarship allowed her to transfer to Spain. Since 2000 Katharina Mayer manages together with Brigitta Thaysen the school for artistic photography in Düsseldorf. Since 2004 she teaches photography at the Niederrhein University in Krefeld and in 2009 he held a guest professorship for photography at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna.

In 2001 Katharina Mayer’s art work was awarded with the renowned Aenne-Biermann Award. Her unconventional, partially large-sized motifs can now be found in many important public and private collections.

Katharina Mayer created the International ethecon Blue Planet Award 2010 as a unicum for the award winner Elias Bierdel. During the ethecon conference 2010 in which the price was awarded Katharina explained her artwork during her speech.

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