The Governing Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, has awarded the city-state’s highest honor to curator Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, who received the Order of Merit of Berlin on Thursday.
Ndikung is the founder and director of Savvy Contemporary, an important Berlin art space. He is an internationally recognized curator who served as curator at large for Documenta 14 and artistic director of last year’s Bamako Encounters photography biennial. He also curated Finland’s pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale, which showed the work of the Miracle Workers Collective. He is currently the artistic director of the Sonsbeek biennial in Amsterdam.
“This is a recognition of the work Savvy Contemporary has been doing over the past decade,” Ndikung said in a statement. “It is important to say that there is still very much to be done and with the support of a very motivated, intelligent and diligent Savvy Contemporary team, as well as with the people of Berlin and beyond. But of utmost importance is that this medal is dedicated to the people of Anglophone Cameroon, who have been under a state of war that has led to hundreds of thousands of internally and externally displaced people.”
The Order of Merit of Berlin is conferred annually by Berlin’s governing mayor on behalf of the state’s senate on October 1, the anniversary of the Berlin Constitution of 1950, to a varying number of Berlin citizens who “contributing greatly to society,” according to a release. This year 10 people, including Ndikung, were given the honor, including jazz and opera singer Jocelyn B. Smith and singer and songwriter Uschi Brüning. Last year, gallerists Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers were named to the Order of Merit of Berlin.
In a statement, the Berlin State said, “The main concern of the curator, author and critic is to establish a decentralizing and egalitarian concept of art and culture among producers and recipients, especially in the Western hemisphere. For this reason, the internationally renowned curator and theorist founded the project space Savvy Contemporary to address postcolonial discourse and intercultural dialogue. With his work, Prof. Dr. Bonaventure Ndikung makes an extraordinary contribution to Berlin’s development into a cosmopolitan, colorful, and solidary metropolis.”