diskurs / artist‘s voice
Self organized artist initiatives
Berlin’s popularity amongst dance-makers comes along with its unsatisfying infrastructure – Let‘s teatime!
Teatime is a space created by a temporary collective of Berlin based artists that got together after the Senat announced its funding recipients. Coming together was not an impulse of creating a space for shared frustration rather the opposite – to rethink together the working conditions in Berlin. Simultaneously, Tanzfabrik offered us a space during the Open Spaces Festival to continue our conversations, to work together and to share the process with an audience. Enthusiastically
we accepted the invitation, at the same time we keep in mind that again we are engaging in yet another unpaid project.
It’s teatime and the space is open. "Can I premiere here?” asked Alice shyly. "No, this is the time for all the un-premiere celebrations!” said the others. "Do you mean performing un-productions, un-roomed rehearsals and un-staged processes?” asked Alice. "Well it’s more for unfunded performances and un-coproduced things!” said the others. "But why?” asked Alice surprised "I thought there was more money this year...” "And there is!” shouted the institutions, "Take some!”. Alice looked around "But I don’t see any money!” "There isn’t any anymore!” said the institutions. The audience yawned in their chairs.
The collective teatime is a space in which we come together to establish and ponder on what we could potentially call a community. This time together (a luxury) we spend reflecting upon modes of production in Berlin, in hope of thinking about ways of doing it differently with and without the market. It is an attempt to form a group, a non-consensus one, a transient one, but nevertheless a group that wants to come together. This desire originated around shared concerns about the funding system we now have in Berlin, which also includes the rhetoric and expectations of artists within or outside of "the system”. Artistic work is streamlined in certain ways to make it appealing to capital. "Quality” is the fundamental criterion for government support, but what constitutes "artistic quality” is, at best, intransparent. At worst, this concept of quality is used to override a much needed discussion on diversity, visibility, and (why not?) the ethics of how we work.
We are concerned with sustainability, communication and gender. Berlin as a scene has little continuity, which is why it is so difficult to define it. Artists who live here (meaning people committed to this city, paying taxes, living, having families here, etc.) are working everywhere but here, and probably this is also why there is no engagement with and difficulties to collectivize within the so-called local scene. The city does not have one production house exclusively concentrated on local productions, and there are no residency spaces for experimental works, events, researches, formats, that are fundamentally not product-oriented.
The fact that nowadays "global” has priority over "local” becomes a challenging aspect for any institution in the city, as well as for the freelance scene. How can we work more with what Berlin has to offer? Do we know what Berlin has to offer? Are we able to be here long enough to figure that out? How can we establish sustainable modes of being an artist here in Berlin in order to find that out? What structures of support are there for artists beyond the 8-week production grant? How can we re-think ways of activating and occupying spaces, of sharing more recourses, expanding spaces in times of scarcity? This is not only a call out to institutions, but also to fellow artists in the city: can we start to think our individual fortune differently and come together, especially if fortune is so precarious and/or has an 8-week expiry date?
Furthermore, the relation institution/curator vs. freelancer/artist seems to be governed by a system of values based on the external criteria as defined by the art market – a system we are all a part of, and which is hard to resist. External criteria rule the world, and its institutions, funding, residencies, big names, etc. The criteria create hierarchies, dependencies, enhancements of oppositions: successful ones vs. losers, good vs. bad, visible and invisible, linked and separated. The dependency on external values place the freelancers in the passive area of dark matter. But we are also political: working with political institutions, working in political structures. What kind of policy do we want to create? How, as freelancers, can we practice our values system, or create new ones? By allowing internal criteria such as love, friendship, artistic practice, researches, needs, obsessions, and motivations to come to the fore, we redefine a position within the art market and an active voice.
By critically examining our perceived sense of imbalance within the scene in regards to power and representation, it is not about a shared desire to increase our own power, but to expand possible perspectives on life and art, and unfold differentiated ways of being-in-the-world.
Dani Brown, Zinzi Buchanan, Hana Lee Erdman, Jule Flierl, Martin Hansen, Roni Katz, Ligia Lewis, Sheena McGrandles, Lee Meir, Ania Nowack, Maria Scaroni, Kareth Schaffer, Agata Siniarska, Claire Sobottke, Maya Weinberg, Melanie Jame Wolf
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