© Tomaschko

Who:  Berlin Biennale

When: 4 - 10 July 2022

Where: Berlin

With: BMW Group,  Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa),  Goethe Institut e. V.  

Visual identity, 12th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, 11.6.–18.9.2022, Martin Wecke Design Code Lab & MBI Graphic & Type Design Fabian Maier-Bode
Under the direction of Reem Shadid, the BB12 Curators Workshop: It Speaks to Me takes language as a departure point to consider where our conversations have gone astray—from one another, our (art) practice, and our lived experiences. Rapid shifts in technology and modes of art production and the increased institutionalization of artistic and curatorial practice have entrapped us in a closed loop that recycles and regurgitates the same language within new and familiar forms, media, and aesthetics. So, what do we do when the language we use is no longer sufficient to continue or change existing conversations given ever-evolving colonial, capitalist, and patriarchal systems and patterns? The workshop invites eight to twelve early-career curators, educators, and other practitioners to consider how curatorial practice can reappropriate language that has been sequestered and used against us. Invited participants will have the opportunity to discuss these topics in close collaboration with curators, speakers, Berlin Biennale staff, and invited contributors. 

Colonialism continues to impact the present, long after the achievement of political independence by people in the Global South. Over 500 years of colonial thought and action have shaped all aspects of life—in the societies of the South and also the North. Colonial violence, fascism, and capitalist exploitation continue, persisting in ever-new forms. Liberating knowledge, thinking, and action from colonial patterns is what drives decolonial processes, which seek to unlearn what has been learned and continuously question existing points of view. Kader Attia, curator of 12th Berlin Biennale, looks back on more than two decades of decolonial engagement. As an artist, thinker, and activist, he has been particularly engaged with the notion of repair—first of objects and physical injuries, and then of individual and societal traumas. Throughout his practice, repair has emerged as a mode of cultural resistance, a form of agency that finds expression in diverse practices and fields of knowledge. For the 12th Berlin Biennale, Attia makes this form of agency the starting point of a program that involves contributors and audiences in a critical conversation, in order to find ways together to care for the now.

With exhibitions, interventions, and events, the 12th Berlin Biennale will span diverse venues in the city, offering a discursive space that bridges different fields of knowledge production.  More information 

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 both facilitates the international exchange of ideas and strengthens individual initiative by contextualizing nascent curatorial concepts and emerging practices in a discursive environment. 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. 

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.