Nils-Arne Kässens, Director of Osnabrücks Museumsquarter, is a jury member of the German Peace Prize for Photography. (Photo: Angela von Brill)

Interview with Nils-Arne Kässens, museum director and jury member of the photo competition

At the end of 2018, it was clear that the city of peace Osnabrück and the Felix Schoeller Group in Osnabrück would jointly award the “German Peace Prize for Photography” for the first time. Professional photographers from all over the world are invited to submit their work on the topic of peace by 31 May 2019. The winner will receive €10,000 in prize money. The works of the winner and the nominees will be exhibited at the Museumsquartier Osnabrück following the award ceremony. Nils-Arne Kässens is director of the Museumsquartier in Osnabrück and a member of the jury for the first German Peace Prize for Photography.

Mr. Kässens, how do you rate the new Peace Photo Competition with regard to your work in the Museumsquartier?

“The positioning of the city of Osnabrück as a city of peace is enormously helpful for my work. This is one of the city’s key objectives – and developing the Museumsquartier into a peace location has priority in the cultural strategy. We want to design the Museumsquartier as a place of peace that can be experienced, where peace has history and a future. Furthermore, this is a target that existed long before the idea of the German Peace Prize for Photography was born. The four houses in the Museumsquartier Osnabrück, the Felix-Nussbaum-Haus, the Kulturgeschichtliche Museum, the Villa Schlikker and the Akzisehaus are to become locations that make the topic of peace vivid and comprehensible. There is a new spirit of optimism in the local art scene and Osnabrück also profits from this, because openness, diversity and tolerance are among the basic pillars of the peace city. The prize is a further building block in the cultural orientation of our city and will set important impulses”.

What kind of impulses do you expect?

“Certainly, the terms war and peace are strongly linked and, in view of the numerous trouble spots around the world, will also occupy a strong place in the works submitted. But we also deliberately point to interpersonal peace, peace with oneself or the social environment. Peace between generations can also be a theme that can find expression in photographic works. Photography offers a variety of interpretations and creative possibilities to implement the theme of peace in a contemporary and critical way. Here I expect impulses in the points of view, which can go depending upon cultural background in very different directions. It is precisely this area of tension that makes the prize so exceptional.”

You are talking here about the international submissions…

I expect interesting works from the global photo community and exciting perspectives from very different cultural circles. Together, they also produce an image of contemporary society captured by the camera. Schoeller has built an international reputation with his Photo Award and addresses professional photographers worldwide. We build on these structures, experiences and contacts by declaring the German Peace Prize for Photography a special category of the Felix Schoeller Photo Award. In recent years, the professional photography community of this competition has seen a significant increase in international submissions of numerous award-winning works by well-known artists. I am convinced that the German Peace Prize for Photography will also become an internationally significant cultural highlight in the city”.

Are you also planning your own exhibition for the German Peace Prize for Photography?

“The winner and the nominees of the Peace Prize will receive their own exhibition, independent of the exhibition of the Felix Schoeller Photo Award. We’re thinking here of a creative curatorial approach to the award-winning photographs, more is not to be revealed today. But we don’t want it to be just one exhibition. In the context of the exhibition, we are thinking of events such as theme evenings, symposia or creative workshops that will deal with the wide cosmos of peace. These considerations naturally depend on the themes and the availability of the artists and speakers. We will be able to say more about this after the closing date for submissions”.