Thursday, March 28, 2019, 7 pm
Abschöpfung des Selbst – Zur Entwicklung des Produktionsstandorts Berlin

Panel discussion with Asta Gröting (artist, professor of sculpture at the Braunschweig University of Art), Hans-Martin Schmidt (founder of the atelier site Uferhallen, Berlin) and Melanie Roumiguière (director of the visual arts division, DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program), moderated by Catrin Lorch (art historian and editor at the feuilleton of Süddeutsche Zeitung)

In German

With its exhibition
Uferhallen Kunstaktien Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.) currently pays tribute to a unique project while making it accessible to the public: Iniiated in 2011 by Hans-Martin Schmidt and Ingrid Jonda, Kunstaktien (art shares) were created by artists with the aim of securing the long-term existence of the Uferhallen as a cultural site and preventing property speculation. The listed ensemble of buildings of the Uferhallen is one of the central locations for artistic and cultural production in Berlin and accommodates not only concert spaces, dance projects, theatre productions, sound studios and rehearsal rooms, but also the studios of more than 60 artists. 132 artists took part in the initiative to secure a lasting existence of the ensemble and created a total of 3,300 shares for the Uferhallen AG, which has been converted into a public corporation. The acquisition and distribution of the shares was intended to secure the right to a say in the future use of the studio location.

In the summer of 2017, the Uferhallen site was taken over by a group of investors. In view of the new situation of ownership, the continued existence of the Uferhallen as a production site for contemporary art represents a central objective of cultural policy. On the initiative and with financial support of the Senate Department for Culture and Europe and the district of Berlin-Mitte, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.) acquired 20 art shares from artists working on the Uferhallen grounds. With the presentation of a total of 24 art shares–n.b.k. already acquired a number of 4 in 2011–the experimental approach of art shares being original works of art and capital investments at the same time is adressed, as well as their purpose of securing the existence of permanently affordable spaces for contemporary art production and art presentation.

The Berlin art scene is increasingly characterized by a paradox: while the promise of unfettered creative development and the opportunity to carve out a personal identity draws many artists to the German capital, the unoccupied spaces that are meant to sustain such unrestrained expression have come under growing pressure. The competition over access to infrastructure such as studios, exhibition and project spaces, and the attention of the art market and collectors has heated up; artists find themselves pushed out as the commercial logic of accumulation and profit maximization has gained ground in the art scene. In an economy remolded along neoliberal principles that extracts the value of individual selfhood, the singular product of the creative imagination has enjoyed a rise in status, but at the expense of collective action and solidarity. This shift has fueled a trend toward spectacular events and blockbuster exhibitions, toward privatization and exclusivity.

With the Uferhallen serving as an example, the panel discussion provides a space for artists and cultural producers to talk about the current challenges for art production, which come along with the current urban politics and cultural policy and the increasingly pressing question of the development of Berlin as a location of production.

Asta Gröting is an artist and professor of sculpture at the Braunschweig University of Art. In various media such as sculpture, video and performance, she raises conceptual and emotional questions about social coexistence. For a long time, she has been exploring the possibilities of making the psychological visible, for example in the series The Inner Voice based on ventriloquism or in the series Berlin Fassaden  (Façades of Berlin), which employs casts of perforated, battered walls.

Catrin Lorch is an art historian and art critic. After an editorial traineeship at the Offenbach-Post, she studied art history, journalism, German literature and urban planning in Frankfurt, New York and Bonn. In 1994 and 1996, she was curator and director of the Videonale in Bonn. In 2006, she was awarded the Art Cologne Prize for Art Criticism. Her writings were published in Blitzreview, Kunstbulletin, Frieze, Artforum, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Texte zur Kunst a. o. Since 2009, she has been the responsible editor for contemporary art with Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Melanie Roumiguière is a cultural scientist and curator. Since autumn 2018, she has been head of the visual arts section of the DAAD’s Berlin Artists-in-Residence Programme. Prior to this, she was curator and exhibition director at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin, where she was responsible for numerous exhibitions and publications. She has also worked for the MACBA in Barcelona and Documenta 13.

Hans-Martin Schmidt studied geodesy at the Technical University of Berlin and worked as a graduate survey engineer, as a project engineer in Indonesia, and as head of a construction company. In 2006, he put a building he had acquired at Uferstraße 6 at the disposal of students of the University of the Arts for the protest exhibition Außer Haus (Off-site). In 2008, he initiated the Uferhallen studio location together with Ingrid Jonda and in 2011 the Uferhallen art shares project.

Free admission