atb #31 | based in berlin

Clegg & Guttmann

after the butcher @ based in berlin @ KUNSTWERKE-BERLIN e.V.

Allegory of Government, 2011

after the butcher is an independent exhibition space for contemporary art and social issues in berlin-lichtenberg, which is curatorially responsible for the third floor at KW. after our invitation to based in berlin, we have invited all berlin artists with whom we have already collaborated in our space or with whom we are currently working. asked us to develop contributions for this exhibition. six time-based, performative projects by six different groups of artists have emerged from an intensive discussion process. in the otherwise empty space there is only one picture commissioned for this exhibition, a portrait of the governing mayor of clegg & guttmann.

the reasons for this exhibition format lie in our contradiction against the politics of this exhibition project, which was aimed at as a “show of young art from berlin”, for the purpose of “proving” that berlin needs a new art hall.

an open call was sent to all berlin artists to apply for this exhibition, three “over curators” were appointed as advisory bodies and five young curators, and berliner kulturprojekte gmbh was commissioned to organise the whole thing.

1.7 million euros were made available by the politicians for this project. in times of limited financial resources and budget cuts on all sides, this is a big chunk that indicates that the politicians give this exhibition the highest priority.

we are artists – we love to make art and we do it with full dedication, but we loathe to define ourselves through “performance”. art does not function according to the laws of a steam turbine, nor those of an animal breeding association. art functions through intensities, resistance, contradictions and madness. art – even if it is permanently tried – cannot be objectified – art is form and content and bound to subjective perception, and that is a good thing. wanting to force ourselves into a “performance show” is an attack on our being: we need our laziness like our diligence, we need our nap like our wakefulness, we need our doubts, flops and failures as well as our highlights, we need contemplation as well as action. and we think, this doesn’t only concern us artists, these are universal qualities of human being par excellence, to hide them and to reduce us to “performance” degenerates us. and it often leads in its consequence to illness: stress, burn out, depression, drugs, suicide.

we have to emphasize this here because a correction of the conceptuality and thus an understanding for the justified protest on the part of politics not only failed to materialize but especially the governing mayor klaus wowereit stubbornly and ignorantly sticks to it and despite the change of title continues to call the exhibition a “performance show”.

we take part in this exhibition under protest, because the concerns of the fine arts are not really taken seriously by politics. wowereit’s declaration of intent in his inaugural speech after the re-election to found an art gallery in berlin was not followed by any practical steps. for us, it reads more like an empty promise that veils the lack of actual engagement for contemporary art.

the necessity of an art hall cannot be determined by an exhibition. the necessity and feasibility must be determined in an open exchange with all involved – artists, curators, art associations, galleries and museums…, and in a public discussion process.

if the acquisition budget for contemporary art is cancelled from the berlin gallery, if the artworks KW or the art associations NBK and NGBK are facing substantial financial bottlenecks, if there is not a single berlin support programme for “off-spaces” and self-organised exhibition spaces… how is a new kunsthalle supposed to function?

we don’t let ourselves be instrumentalized!
we want to see berlin politics that can be taken seriously, that focuses on improving the living conditions of the socially disadvantaged. many berlin artists have been experiencing the exact opposite for years: our living and production conditions are becoming more difficult, rents and the cost of living are rising, subsidies are being cut, income is declining. with katharina sieverding, we say: “poor but sexy” is out. it ruins and discriminates against us and our art.

franziska böhmer
thomas kilpper