Resolutions are made for an immediate future, with an eye on long term change. They range from wishful fantasy to hardnosed pragmatism. To be sure, they are usually adopted for the wrong reasons (guilt). Thus wilfully ignored. But when they do take hold, resolutions are dramatic, life-changing stuff. The following examples are to be presented over 2018-19. With all of them reflecting the fundamental query of REALTY: how to deal with Contemporary Art’s complicity with gentrification. Some of the resolutions are about surviving this complicity, others plot a long-term path beyond it.
A discussion showcasing Christopher Roth’s proposal to devise an artist residency that encourages artists not to travel, but to stay put. The intellectual foundations of today’s residencies are no more mythified than 19th Century travels to Rome, aiming to soak up the genius loci of classical antiquity. Their economic logic, meanwhile, feeds into a pattern of Airbnb, urban marketing postfordist exhaustion. Proposals such as Roth’s are initial steps – symbolic as well as pragmatic in nature – towards alternative support systems of a sustainable future.
realty-v is the very first REALTY artist commission featuring propagandistic vignettes, theoretical pictures, and archival materials. It willfully pursues the program’s stated agenda of getting the better of gentrification, even through the means of contemporary art. The realty-v logo is designed by artist and writer Diann Bauer.
Meanwhile, 42 explores the spirit of television as a broadcasting tool for artistic and utopian ideas since the 1970s, and station+ is devoted to The Property Show, which is produced by students of Arno Brandlhuber at the ETH Zurich, department for architecture.
station+ and realty-v share an investment in the collectivization of property along the lines of economist Henry George and other radical reformists. But all three channels are committed to revisiting TV as an artistic means to mass pedagogy.
A growing alliance of artists and cultural workers are coming together to show solidarity with the urban initiatives organising the upcoming demonstration „Mietenwahnsinn stoppen“ in Berlin. Building on the first working meeting at the ZK/U, we will decide how to make ourselves visible as a KUNSTBLOC both before, during and following the demonstration. The rent is too damn high, and it’s time to position ourselves and speak out together. Support of all kinds, including ideas, materials, space, expertise, media, but most importantly your physical presence is very welcome!
An afternoon discussion of urban redevelopment by means of art, in the light of KW’s upcoming plans for Prinzenstraße 32, in Berlin-Kreuzberg. The former Robben & Wientjes compound is being repurposed for use as a temporary cultural hub. It is where KW is shortly to exhibit work by New York based artist Lynn Hershman Leeson.
Which is why the following questions will be prioritized here. On the one hand: What kind of leeway do short-term uses actually offer the art field? Can this tactic be defined or regulated in a way that lends it the long-term option of benefitting the immediate neighborhood? On the other hand: Which institutional aims really are achieved via strategies of temporary usage – who genuinely benefits from deregulated short-term planning patterns? With the help of such critical forensics of our own traditional methods, perhaps we can gradually move toward a renewed measure of “Corporate Responsibility” as a professional field.
This afternoon lecture by Tehran-based artist and architect Homayoun Sirizi explores the history of municipal “Shora-ye Shahr” structures in Iran. Shortly after the 1979 revolution, local instruments of governance were reorganized, in view of increasing democratic control at the hands of neighborhood inhabitants. Like many other things in the 1980s, however, things took a complicated turn.
Sirizi’s research is particularly significant at a time when ideas of emancipation via local city governance are gaining traction in Europe, in the guise of ”New Municipalism”. By means of such international comparisons, the REALTY program strives for a global take on the gentrification debate. Not only is uneven urban development a planetary beast; any answers via contemporary art need to be global ones necessarily. International platforms, after all, are our one main forte here.
As a respondent to Sirizi, we will be joined by architect and researcher Niloufar Tajeri, from the Institute for Architectural Theory (GTAS), TU Braunschweig (DE). On this occasion, REALTY is building on a budding collaboration with Shifting Panoramas, a research and exchange program between Berlin and Tehran. Shifting Panoramas, curated by Solmaz Shahbazi and Azar Mahmoudian, equally features contributions by Sirizi and Tajeri, and explores metropolitan differences-in-similarity through a series of events in both capitals.
BLOCC is an educational platform emerging from the REALTY research program at the Sommerakademie Paul Klee Bern. Here it conducts a first trial run of its experimental syllabus. BLOCC’s syllabus strives to be adaptable to educational settings anywhere within the global stratosphere of Contemporary art. It asserts that, to a budding artist, learning Conceptualism 101 is no more important than tools to deal with gentrification processes. Only if such tools are hard-wired into art school curricula can a generational shift become inevitable.
Summer 2018 marks a second stage in the 20-month research process at the Sommerakademie, which runs until April 2019.
Research Fellows: Johanna Bruckner, Crystal Z Campbell, Luiza Crosman, Alexandros Kyriakatos, Alexis Mitchell, Bahar Noorizadeh, Heather O’Brien, Jonathan Takahashi
SPACECRAFT addresses long-term strategies of financing and co-ownership that offer a contrast to the punishing precarity of Contemporary Art. It asks which methods of collectivization and cryptofinance, among other options, might offer sustainable working models for the field.
KUNSTrePUBLIK is a case in point. The artist collective founded their own venue ZK/U, using leasehold models securing tenancy of several decades or longer. The challenges of sustaining this infrastructure can be considered a central facet of their artistic practice. This accomplishment, however, points back to a longer history of engagement with public spaces and institutions.
25 years ago, the collective initiated Skulpturenpark in Berlin Mitte. By and by, Skulpturenpark ceded to apartment blocks built for the upper-middle classes increasingly marking Berlin. The story is hardly a surprising one. What is more surprising is that, even after decades of increasingly brutal patterns of upgrading and displacement, temporary usage and Project City romantics remain à la mode in the Berlin art world (KW are no exception here).
Can one learn any lessons from a temporary usage, two decades on, even if it paved the way for new-build gentrification in Mitte? The trajectory of the said artists suggests as much. Skulpturenpark aside, SPACECRAFT will feature expertise on the financialization of residential space in Berlin, and on the enduring importance of land trusts and collective wealth management.
This brings us to the issue of Smart Contracts. Blockchain enthusiasts insist that cryptocurrencies and Decentralized Autonomous Organizations offer a new playing field, ushering in new forms of collective ownership, even a turn towards the Commons as a political force. REALTY and ZK/U are among the growing numbers of artists and curators nervously exploring such new technologies. Be that as it may, no playing field remains level for long, and the window of opportunity may soon be closing …
For locations and detailed schedule please visit https://www.kw-berlin.de/realty-spacecraft/
While SPACECRAFT focuses on spatial strategies of the here and now, it is followed by STATECRAFT, a REALTY symposium anticipating art-ontological shifts in the near future: 16-18 November 2018, at ExRotaPrint & KW Berlin
The REALTY program addresses the art field’s complicity with the ongoing financialization and gentrification of city space. Contemporary Art plays a well-documented role in the way cities are being redeveloped and governed. In essence, REALTY argues that any shift in this role would require a change in the economic and ideological ground Contemporary Art stands on.
After all, broke artists will not stop servicing real estate. The Right to the City is not a serious option so long as Frequent Flying remains a best-case scenario. And theorists and curators who believe in limbo and tricksterism will only make things worse.
Some argue it’s a good time to leave, others seem to think we can still repurpose the field for other ends. At this point, Contemporary Art is a fast-growing infrastructure that values its own planetary expansion over all else. In terms of core concerns, its investment in opacity and creative disruption is as obvious as its disregard for positioning and grounding. This makes it an ideal vessel for deregulation agendas across the world; in terms of capital flow, labor conditions, the financialization of space and otherwise.
Then again, it may indeed be an ideal vessel for other things more. Which Kunstbegriff might allow us to revisit the forms of governance we are partaking in anyway? What would an art look like that is not as cynical and exploitative? What sonics of intelligence would apply? Which structures of support are required? STATECRAFT aims for pragmatic answers to this rather dramatic set of questions.
For locations and detailed schedule please visit https://www.kw-berlin.de/realty-statecraft/
While STATECRAFT anticipates imminent moments of art-ontological change, SPACECRAFT is a REALTY conference a few days prior – 10-13 November at ZK/U Berlin – focusing on corresponding co-ownership and cross-financialization strategies for the here and now.