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Curatorial Workshop on the occasion of the 4th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art

Berlin has always been a powerful attractor for artists and young curators from all over the world and thus an extremely vibrant production site for creators of culture. The berlin biennial for contemporary art, having been held for the fourth time, presented a bundling of these creative energies. KW Institute for Contemporary Art in cooperation with the Forum Goethe-Institut Berlin took this important event in contemporary art and the reflection of its process of emergence as an occasion to pick up an initiative of the Allianz Cultural Foundation and the BMW Group to organize a workshop for young curators coming from different parts of the world.

In collaboration between KW Institute for Contemporary Art, the curators of the 4th Berlin Biennale, Nataša Petrešin, the curator and coordinator of the workshop and ifa Rave scholarship holder, and the Forum Goethe-Institut Berlin, 13 young international curators had been selected for this workshop. The participants had initial experience in curating exhibitions and came from many different countries and continents – a. o. from Iran, Uruguay, Brazil, Estonia, Bolgaria, Rumania, Turkey, India, China and Egypt - to gain insight and knowledge about the contemporary curatorial practice in the context of the 4. Berlin Biennale and establish professional and personal contacts.

Participating Curators:

  • Paz Aburto Guevara (Chile)
  • Richard Birkett (United Kingdom)
  • Cedric Bomford (Canada)
  • Clio E. Bugel (Czech Republic)
  • Amirali Ghasemi (Iran)
  • Ana Janevski (Serbia)
  • Yana Kostova (Bulgaria)
  • Maha Maamoun (USA)
  • Cristiana Santiago Tejo (Brazil)
  • Alina Serben (Rumania)
  • Marko Stamenković (Serbia)
  • Katarzyna Szydłowska-Schiller (Poland)
  • Adnan Yildiz (Turkey)

On March 23 a series of workshops and meetings with renowned guest speakers began and was concluded with a public panel discussion on March 27. A social gathering with the former curators of berlin biennial, a.o. Saskia Bos, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Ute Meta Bauer, was organised, where the participants discussed the experiences of the development and set-up phases of the exhibition. Guest lecturers, who also assumed temporary mentor roles, spoke about their experience with various models of curatorial practice and the mediation of contemporary art, with an emphasis on the biennial’s exhibition model, art criticism and the changing roles of artists and curators. The participants presented discussions with a number of artists taking part in the 4th Berlin Biennale. A few visits to other exhibition spaces in Berlin and artist studios were organized.

In this context, central questions of contemporary curatorial practice and of the international exhibition system were discussed:

  • What demands do the audience and the artists place on a curator?
  • How does a curator define his or her field of tasks, where do the artist's and curators' exhibition making converge?
  • How insufficient are traditional educational models of art academies and how have the curatorial schools evolved?
  • How to evaluate the process of biennalisation and the role of curators within it?

The declared intention of this plan was to analyze the conceptual and organizational processes of a major exhibition like the 4th Berlin Biennale and thereby to offer insight into the versatile work of a curator.

Closing public discussion

What the world needs now is more biennials
The closing public panel discussion hosted four of the most visible curators of recent and upcoming biennials, Zdenka Badovinac (Director of Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana), Isabel Carlos (independent curator and critic, Lisbon), Vasif Kortun (Director of Platfrom Garanti Contemporary Art Center, Istanbul) and Okwui Enwezor (Dean of Academic Affairs and Senior Vice President at San Francisco Art Institute), and was presented by the art critic Jörg Heiser.