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Curating In Times Of Need

Young Curators Workshop on the occasion of the 7th Berlin Biennale

Participating curators:

  • Marwa Arsanios (Lebanon)
  • Ramona Buša-Virtmane (Latvia)
  • Clare Butcher (South Africa)
  • Wafa Gabsi (Tunisia)
  • Lizaveta German (Ukraine)
  • Lara Khaldi (Palestine)
  • Alejandra Labastida (Mexico)
  • Thomas Lax (USA)
  • Jani Pirnat (Slovenia)
  • Karla Pudar (Croatia)
  • Wilma Renfordt (Germany)
  • Ewa Małgorzata Tatar (Poland)
  • Toleen Touq (Jordan)
  • Natalia Vatsadze (Georgia)

Curating in Times of Need was dedicated to the core themes of the 7th Berlin Biennale: art and political engagement, substantial change, and the impact of artistic and curatorial practice in current societies. The questions raised were both simple and relevant: How to do things with art? Does curating offer potential means for a civic response to the current political occupations? How to curate to make something real? Contemporary curating and art production witness increasing aestheticization whilst turning towards the spectacle, thereby detaching from social processes and limiting curatorial work to the act of managing and presenting art exhibitions. How could curating also be understood as a civic or social practice? And how could this practice become politically and socially relevant, whilst being part of the environment from which it emerges?

The nine-day curatorial workshop Curating in Times of Need analyzed the 7th Berlin Biennale curatorial mode, topics, and projects, as well as a number of case studies by artists or initiatives, performing and practicing context-oriented concrete groundwork. A special focus was placed on the artists’ and curators’ civic responses to the revolutions in the Arab countries, which were undergoing significant political, social, economic, and cultural changes. Local artists and curators have changed their artistic production, but continued using their practices for democratic, nonviolent struggles. These strategies were analyzed with regard to their potential to translate revolution and to re-imagine the future of democracy. A significant number of Arab cultural practitioners were invited to contribute.

Conceived as a meeting point and formational experience for young curators and for young artists or community organizers who have initiated cultural projects, the workshop was intended as a do-and-think tank: a place for the production of knowledge and practice. The young curators were invited to present their own projects during the first session and to continue to take part in discussion sessions, screenings, and the Berlin Biennale’s projects. The participants of the workshop had the opportunity to learn from projects combining curatorial and political practice and debating a set of urgent questions, emerging from the current political circumstances and the pressing need to imagine alternative civil societies utilizing the power of art.

Speakers include

  • Charlotte Bank (Syria / Germany)
  • Bassam El Baroni (Egypt)
  • Amira Chebli (Tunisia)
  • Catherine David (France)
  • Raffie Davtian (Iran / Armenia)
  • Florian Schneider (Germany)
  • Khaled Hourani (Palestine)
  • Mosireen (Philip Rizk, Egypt und Jasmina Metwaly, Poland / Egypt)
  • Susanne Pfeffer (Germany)
  • Marcel Schwierin (Germany)
  • Joshua Simon (Israel)
  • Ala Younis (Kuwait / Jordan)

Curating in Times of Need was a cooperation between the Allianz Cultural Foundation, Berlin; BMW, Munich; Goethe-Institut e. V., Munich; and the 7th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art / KW Institute for Contemporary Art.