Andrea Bellu/Matei Bellu, Carina Brandes, Kasia Fudakowski, Stefan Pente and Farkhondeh Shahroudi are the Villa Romana Fellows 2017. This year’s jury – the artist Natascha Sadr Haghighian and Moritz Wesseler, Director of the Kölnischer Kunstverein – selected five artists from thirteen nominations. Andrea Bellu/Matei Bellu, Carina Brandes and Kasia Fudakowski will live and work at the Villa Romana in Florence from 1 February until 30 November 2017. Stefan Pente and Farkhondeh Shahroudi will each live in a studio on the Via Senese for 5 months.

Andrea Bellu/Matei Bellu currently live in Berlin. In their films, drawings, texts, and installations they identify gaps and discontinuities in historical narratives and transmit them in a reduced pictorial language. Their work is based on migrant, post-colonial and feminist perspectives and deals with omissions and misappropriation in everyday life. Their work is exhibited in the collection of the Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main. In 2016 they will participate at Archive Matters at the Centre for Feminist Research at Goldsmiths College in London.

Carina Brandes, born 1982 in Brunswick, studied there and lives in Leipzig. She works with the medium of analogue black-and-white photographs, which she develops herself in a laboratory. She usually stands in front of the camera herself as an actor and writes herself into casual and playful situations that alternate between controlled order and loss of control. Carina Brandes works both with the Team Gallery in New York and BQ in Berlin. She has taken part in many group exhibitions including MoMA PS1 and the Kunstverein Hannover, the Bonner Kunstverein and the Kölner Kunstverein.

Kasia Fudakowski, born 1985 in London, has lived in Berlin since 2006. She studied at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford. This year the FUTURA Contemporary Art Center in Prague has dedicated a major solo exhibition to her work. In her sculptures and installations, Kasia Fudakowski works both with abstract and figurative elements, which she sometimes satirizes in performative acts. Her work often lies between the structure of the joke and comic theory, in that it embodies an emotionally charged subconscious leap of meaning. Kasia Fudakowski has taken part in numerous international exhibitions and is represented by the CHERT gallery in Berlin.

Stefan Pente, born 1964 in Zurich, lives in Berlin since 1995. The central theme of his installation works, performances and films is the construction of identity through descriptions, attributions and categorisations. He brings into question the necessity and the motivation for the representation of the exotic Other by means of object groups, material assemblages and performances, which defies language as far as possible. His work is often created in cooperation with artists including William Locke Wheeler, with whom he has been discussing and studying the colonial representations of the indigenous people of the north Americas. He has also given queer feminist seminars together with Sabian Baumann in Zurich and Geneva. He is a member of a collective group from Berlin, which will perform the queer feminist operetta The Swan song the next year at nGbk in Berlin.

Farkhondeh Shahroudi, born 1962 in Tehran, found asylum in Germany in the 1990s after protests against the Shah regime. After studying Painting at Alzahra University in Tehran, she studied Art and Design at Dortmund University of Applied Sciences. She produces sometimes very large-scale figurative textile sculptures embroidered with Arabic characters. Her work is included in collections such as the British Museum, London. In 2011, the German radio station Deutschlandfunk dedicated a radio play to her. Her work has also been exhibited in Tallinn, Rome, London, Berlin, Marrakesh, Dubai and Tehran.

The Villa Romana Prize is awarded every year to talented artists resident in Germany. They are provided with a studio apartment in the artist residency at the Villa Romana in Florence and they receive a stipend. At the end of their residency, the fellows all together conceive a publication in the form of an artists’ book.

The Villa Romana is a non-profit institution that receives considerable sponsorship from the Deutsche Bank Stiftung and the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media, as well as other private individuals. The Villa Romana Prize is the oldest German art prize and has been awarded since 1905. Previous fellows have included Max Beckmann, Käthe Kollwitz, Georg Baselitz, Anna Oppermann, Michael Buthe and many other artists who had co-written the history of modern.