Curatorial Workshop 2020 - How now to gather
Taking place in close dialogue with the 11th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, the bb11 Curatorial Workshop will be reconfigured this year. In response to current limitations on travel, as well as to the urgency of strengthening support structures, networks and safety nets, the bb11 Curatorial Workshop call for applications will not go out internationally, but to Berlin-based early career curators, educators and other practitioners (regardless of age), who are first-generation or second-generation newcomers to Berlin and who come from the Rising Majority or from situations characterized by a lack of support. Recognizing the specificity of lived conditions and situated knowing, the participants will come together to consider How now to gather. The Workshop will make a call to those interested in movement-building and in workshopping new protocols for gathering, for practicing solidarity and for enacting systemic change. The context of the pandemic and the growing Rising Majority, BLM, #LeaveNoOneBehind, #unteilbar and other important movements will inform all aspects of our work together.
The bb11 Curatorial Workshop is directed by curator, educator and writer Pip Day. It will take place over 8 evening and Saturday sessions during the month of October 2020. Committed to building a network of cultural practitioners and institutions across Berlin, the Workshop will proceed with an eye to generating longer lasting, cross-institutional alliances and support structures. Participants will receive a stipend.
History of the Curators' Workshop
Since 2006 the KW Institue for Contemporary Art and the Allianz Kulturstiftung organize in cooperation with their partners (Goethe-Institut, BMW Group and – since 2016 – the ifa Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) the Curators Workshop which offers young curators from all over the world the chance to professionalize themselves both theoretically and practically in the context of the Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art. The workshop facilitates the international exchange of ideas and strengthens individual initiative by contextualizing nascent curatorial concepts and emerging practices in a discursive environment.
The Curators Workshop follows an understanding of education as practice of liberation and is open to contradictions, complexities, discussions and processes of failure. It is not enough to generate knowledge about a topic, it is necessary to find new forms of presentation that are organized in a non-hierarchical way. For this reason the workshop is also intended as a testing ground for new formats.
In a program of seminars and fieldwork tailored to each particular biennial's concept, a small group of young curators discusses positions, strategies, contents and perceptions, frequently with input from invited experts. Workshop participants not only push their own ideas further, they put them into practice. Throughout the process, they are mentored by important figures in their field and the international art scene.
By funding the 2nd and 3rd Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, the Allianz Cultural Foundation – shortly after its registration in the year 2000 – has contributed significantly to the successful establishment of the Berlin Biennale as a new nationally and internationally acclaimed format. Since the 4th edition, the Allianz Cultural Foundation has been sponsoring the co-initiated Curators Workshop – and continues to do so for the 11th Berlin Biennale in 2020.
The Curators Workshop of the 10th Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art took place from August 30 to September 9, 2018, under the title "Curators Workshop: BBX Crit Sessions". Fifteen up-and-coming curators* from the curatorial practice took part in the ten-day workshop under the direction of Antonia Majaca and Sohrab Mohebbi. The program explored the X. Biennale's exhibition as a complex network of material, political and aesthetic dependencies. The focus was on visible and invisible alliances and relationships, with the Biennial acting as a place for encounter and study.
The 6th Young Curators Workshop took place from 08 – 17 September 2016 in the context of the 9th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art. Thirteen young curators from eleven countries were selected from among countless applicants from across the world. Philosopher Armen Avanessian developed the concept and program for the workshop, along with the biennial's complete program of events, all under the title “Post-Contemporary Art”. Arvanessian explains that Post-Contemporary Art activates institutional mechanisms and tests the limits of their progressive tendencies, instead of simply criticizing those mechanisms. Accordingly, the workshop posed two questions: To what extent might biennials more strategically approach infrastructure-building? And how might global flows of capital be channeled in more politically progressive directions?
Thirteen young curators from eleven countries participated in María Inés Rodríguez's program for the 5th Young Curators Workshop. “The Exhibition: Metamorphosis of a Concept” took up the 8th Berlin Biennale's conceptual approach: negotiating and dealing with the 19th century in today's cultural landscape. Based on the premise that the exhibition format established itself as an autonomous entity with the World's Fairs in the late 19th century, participants analyzed a series of historically contemporary positions and discussed what it means to make an exhibition. The workshop studied the exhibition qua active political space that is open to contention and experiments, because that is how it is perceived and used by curators, artists and the public alike.
The 4th Young Curators Workshop, “Curating in Times of Need”, invited fourteen emerging international curators to Berlin from 29 May to 06 June 2012. The workshop oriented itself conceptually on the driving issues behind the 7th Berlin Biennale, issues which included the interplay between art and political engagement, and the impact artistic and curatorial practices can have on society. “Curating in Times of Need” focused on artists' and curators' responses to the Arab Revolution in civil society. Participants analyzed those strategies for their potential to “translate” the revolution and make the future of democracy imaginable again.
Beyond the international exchange of thoughts and experience, the “Real Players” Young Curators Workshop offered participants an opportunity to actively shape the 6th Berlin Biennale's program of events. “Real Players” emphasized subjects like ways of engaging with a broader social or political fold as a strategy to bypass the normative exhibition context, and how to create and reveal reconfigurations of cultural production and institutional creative processes. In keeping with those goals, the workshop explored different seminar formats – from participatory sessions and walks to more classical lectures and debates.
Fourteen young curators from as many different countries took part in the 2nd Young Curators Workshop. Called “Eyes Wide Open”, the workshop invited participants to consider the relationship between center and periphery. The 5th Berlin Biennale entered all kinds of Berlin neighborhoods and confronted history past and present in the formerly divided city. Against that backdrop, participants in the Young Curators Workshop studied and discussed how people in cities experience the trend of established mega-exhibitions, and how exhibition makers might also reach local residents as well as professional audiences.
The inaugural Young Curators Workshop, “Fast Forward”, was held in the context of the 4th Berlin Biennale. From 22-28 March, the Goethe-Institut hosted seminars and group work in which workshop participants discussed and analyzed conceptual and organizational processes in international exhibition production. The young curators not only got an opportunity to conceive and moderate the program of “bb4” Artist's Talks themselves, they also got to meet important names in their field and the international art scene (e.g. Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Okuwi Enwezor, Saskia Bros and Niklas Maak) and ask them about their work.