Artistic production – on our own or in cooperations – already is a tradition for the IKMW. Through the predecessor institute it possesses longstanding expertise especially in exhibitions, but also in the realm of interdisciplinary projects in the area of cultural and urban development. This experience and knowledge will now also be brought to bear in international cooperations.
The large exhibition projects include “Mythos documenta” in the CAFA Art Museum in Beijing (2017), “Arnold Bode and his Hears” in the New Gallery of Art in Shanghai (2018) as well and exhibitions and conferences in the programme “Budapest x Berlin”. In 2021 the exhibition “Joseph Beuys and the documenta”, conceived in cooperation with the Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen and the documenta Archive, was shown in the residence of the German embassy in Beijing.
Fascination and Controversy
Exhibition and Discussion on the documenta
It was a special documenta night at the Löwenpalais of the Art Foundation Stark in Berlin Grunewald, linking Kassel with Beijing and the German capital.
The documentary exhibition „documenta goes China 2017-2022“ provided the framing for a panel discussion on the current situation of the documenta fifteen.
„documenta goes China“
Curated with photos, historic film sequences and trailers, the pop up-exhibition presented a significant part of the documenta’s reception in China, referring to three very different projects: “Myth of documenta. Arnold Bode and his heirs”, shown 2017 in the CAFA Museum in Peking on 3.000 sqm and featuring hundreds of objects, materials and photos from the documenta archive in Kassel, for the first time presented the documenta with its preconditions, its artistic developments and its curatorial, educational as well as historic contexts to a predominantly young Chinese audience. Well over 30.00 visitors within four weeks documented the strong interest, also for the newly configured version in Shanghai. Shaped by Klaus Siebenhaar (Free University Berlin) and Yu Ding (Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), Peking), the exhibition serves as a best practice in research- and archive-based exhibition practice within Chinese curatorial studies.
The double exhibition „Joseph Beuys and the documenta“/“Cosmos Beuys“, opened in September 2021 in the Residency of the German Embassy in Beijing and the big seminar on the documenta fifteen in June/July 2022, turned into a montage by the Chinese students, were already perceived under the conditions of the Covid pandemic. All of these documenta endeavors, though very different in their dimensions and formats, represented the fundamental Chinese attitudes of perception:
1) The contemplative and healing power of art, its aesthetic, emotional and societal impact in staged indoor and outdoor spaces.
2) The transformation of an entire city through artistic interventions: Kassel as an “exhibition hall”.
3) The positive appropriation, the individually and collectively active role of the visitors and “atmospheres” developing from it.
All three exhibitions document the geographic link between Kassel-Berlin-Beijing. They rest on the continuous cooperation between institutions in these three cities: Free University Berlin, Institute for Arts und Media Industries Berlin, documenta Archive Kassel, Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) Beijing and the German Embassy in Beijing.
And for all projects holds that they were realized with German and Chinese students.
The political dialogue: Klaus Siebenhaar in conversation with Hans Eichel
As Mayor of Kassel, as Head of State of the State of Hessia and as German Treasurer, Hans Eichel has actively and directly accompanied the documenta through several decades, and had to weather off controversies, conflicts and situations of crisis. Especially as a politician the independence of artistic leadership and the freedom of the art in general always was untouchable and guaranteed. The discussions about Walter de Maria’s “Earth Kilometer”, the staging of “state artists of the GDR” or Beuys’ “7000 Oaks” always stayed civic protests in the context of cultural policy, they always could be resolved through discussions and communication. With its inability for dialogue, their “hermeneutics of suspicion” (Armin Nassehi), the scandalization of the accusations of antisemitism represent a novelty. Both Hans Eichel and Klaus Siebenhaar alleged that the forming of ideologic bubbles, the sometimes intentional ambiguity of central terms (racism, antisemitism, global south) and complex contexts of worldviews (French theory, applied post-modernism, post-colonial studies etc.) contribute significantly to polemics, waves of outrage and simplifications.
Both were united in their perspective on the future of the documenta: The documenta 16 will take place in 2027 in Kassel, and it must not be realized in an organizational or content-wise framework “supervised curating” (Klaus Siebenhaar”) – of state-side paternalism and intervention like in German public broadcasting.
The discussion closed on an engaged plea by both speakers to keep up artistic freedom even in conflict. Conflicts and necessary debates with attitudes as those of the Indonesian collective ruangrupa, the artistic directors of documenta fifteen, should take place on the basis of mutual respect and friendly coexistence and should not lead to political influence and uninformed, unreflected paternalization.
For „50%“ not to remain the „New Sold Out“
Audience Development-Workshop for the Deutscher Bühnenverein
In the face of visitor numbers that still haven’t reached pre-pandemic levels and of less than boisterous audience trends already before COVID the IKMW on 10 June 2022 gave a workshop on Audience Development at the annual meeting of the Deutscher Bühnenvereins (DBV) at the Oldenburg State Theater – it was the most frequented out of seven workshops offered to the member theatres.
In a facilitated inventory Achim Müller collected and structured the experiences and knowledge of participating theatres. The research followed three guiding questions: Who comes, whom do we know? Whom do we miss, whom do we want to come? How and where do we want to seek, find, motivate and bind them?
To complement this experience-based kowledge Achim Müller and Klaus Siebenhaar introduced basic results from scientific research on visitor structure, motivation, behaviour and development.
The core findings were humbling, but not very surprising: significant decrease of visits, specifically among frequent visitors; both encouraging and disappointing expereinces both with measures to regain former and with those to attract new audiences visitors – and, lingering above, the insight already formulated by Bourdieu in the 1960s: Programming that is truly visitor-oriented – including innovative participatory formats and new venues – together with adequate, if possible personalised communications remain remain the core of all successful audience development.
The results made it clear: For the future theatres don’t really need additional general research projects without reference to concrete measures. For audience development to be at the same time art-oriented and evidence-based they should instead invest in a process of research & development focussing on developing and testing specific activities, formats and strategies. The IKMW already has entered talks with the DBV to start such a project with selected theatres.
Beuys travels in China
Successful Exhibitions in Shanghai and Chengdu after first Stop in Guangzhou/Canton
For three weeks the two documentary exhibitions „Joseph Beuys and the documenta“ and „Cosmos Beuys: About Art and Life in 20th century Avantgarde“ will be open to a broad public in Guangzhou/Canton. Both exhibitions are shown in a private cultural center under the partonage of the General Consulate after their opening the residency of the German Embassy in Beijing.
Subsequently „Joseph Beuys und die documenta“ was opened in the Urbancross Gallery in Shanghai on 25 February 2022, only to have to close because of COVID a few days later. After the end of the lockdown the exhibition was on show in Shanghai until mid of July.
On the other hand the exhibition „Cosmos Beuys“ could be presented as scheduled in the XLY MoMa Museum in Chengdu from 2 April until 15 May 2022 and found a vividly interested audience.
Hungarian-Chinese-German „Art Clinic“ opened in Budapest
On the weekend 13/14 May 2022 the „First Aid-Art Clinic” was opened in Budapest’s Bartok-Distrikt (11. District) as a part of the Budapest “Sprig Festival”. The art project was developed over the course of almost five months in a cooperation between the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) Beijing, the Eleven Blokk Art Foundation, Budapest, and the IKMW Berlin, a cooperation that was unconventional both organizationally and in the manner of curating. As a hybrid format with “distance curating”, diglog field research and a concrete physical realization in five real sites in Budapest, the “Art Clinic developed into a successful, very well frequented art event. At the same time it proved an exemplary creative model for international cooperation under times of the pandemic. There will be further projects of this kind in the constellation Budapest-Berlin-Beijing following this encouraging experiences and outcomes.
Building on the core idea that art heals the ten upcoming curators from China and Hungary developed a narration comprising five stations: „Show Your Wound“, „Land of Demons“, „Cross the Boarder, Ferryman“, „Wonderland Cythera“ and „Paradise: Arcadia“. A path from hurt toward eventual healing is represented and told with different artistic formats from Hungarian and Chinese artists.
Together after Corona!
Second Open Space-Workshop at the Landestheater Tübingen
Under the header “Together! The LTT after Corona!” Achim Müller has facilitated the second Open Space-workshop for the Landestheater Tübingen (LTT) on 14 May 2022. The first Open Space took place in 2019, just before the beginning of the COVID pandemic. The Open Space-workshops are part of the LTT’s organizational development strategy: In order to meet current and upcoming challenges the LTT wants to continuously develop everyday work and its artistic profile with the participation of all interested employees.
To ensure that the input and initiatives find their way into the practice of the LTT the results and their feasibility were evaluated with a steering workgroup comprising representatives from all areas of the theatre. First activities are already under way, for example a whole day with artistic program reflecting the war in Ukraine, entirely planned and organized by employees. And the process continues: the core elements of the next development workshop projected for the next season are already set.
TUP Essen on Track towards Future
The IKMW participates in shaping the change process „TUP of the Future“ of the Theater and Philharmonics (TUP) Essen. Already in the season 2020/21 members of TUP Essen from all departments developed proposals for ten areas where TUP should reposition and reorganize. With assistence from IKMW these proposals will be cast into concrete measures and plans that will feed into the further development of TUP Essen and into applications for funding in programs of North Rhine-Westphalia until Summer 2022.
Through facilitation and consulting in work processes and decision-making as well through contributing to an application for funding in North Rhine-Westphalia the IKMW supports TUP Essen on its mission to become a model for a theater of the future.
Online-Seminar „Curated City“ at the CAFA Beijing
Cooperation project Beijing-Berlin-Budapest established
Just before Christmas the multimedia seminar „Curated City: About Art, Urban Space and Public Interest“ in the Master program „Arts Management“ at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) was concluded successfully. With Achim Müller and Dániel Ongjerth the interdisciplinary, practice-oriented course for the first time included two project leaders of the Berlin-Budapest/St. Margareten cultural development project.
An eight-person „CAFA collective“ was formed out of the seminar. It will be integrated in the program development in Budapest and will support in the implementation of customized online offers. The experimental international project cooperation is organized and works in the spirit of the model of the “Lumbung” practiced by “ruangrupa”, the collective conceiving the documenta fifteen.
On September 26 2021 the hommage to Beuys „Ausfegen/Sweeping Up“ opened the Budapest Autumn festival of culture. The action/exhibition transfers Beuys‘ idea of a ritual sociopolitical „sweeping up“ to present-day Budapest. At the same time the project, produced by Dániel Ongjerth and his „Eleven Blokk Foundation“ and Klaus Siebenhaar from IKMW, represents the start of a long-term cooperation between Budapest’s 2nd district St. Margret, the „Eleven Blokk Foundation“ and the IKMW, aimed at the paradigmatic development of the 2nd district with artistic scientific methods. Working with Beuys‘ ideas of „sweeping up“, „exhibiting“ and „social sculpture“ and with the inclusion and participation of citizens, the development process is to initiate and implement sustainable cultural activities of community building.
As a foundation a study on the district will be realized.Throughout 2022 multiple projects in culture, media and arts are planned. Within the cooperation between Berlin and Budapest they will be realized with local partners and citizens. A cooperation agreement between IKMW, the „Eleven Blokk Foundation“ and the district government has already been signed. In addition the IKMW plans to establish an independent branch office in Budapest.
Exhibition „Joseph Beuys and the documenta“ opens in the German Embassy in Beijing
On September 2021 the German Ambassador Prof. Dr. Jan Hecker opened the exhibition „Joseph Beuys and the documenta in his Beijing residence. The exhibition was curated from Berlin in a cooperation between the documenta-Archive Kassel and the Zeppelin University. In a live transmission from Berlin the former treasury secretary Hans Eichel and the curator Klaus Siebenhaar discussed about the project „7000 Oaks“. The director of the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing, Prof. Dr. Yu Ding, talked about Kassel, the documenta and China, followed by seven CAFA students who presented their perception of Beuys on the basis of their seminar „Cosmos Beuys“ in Summer 2021.
In the main hall of the residence numerous photos, documents and television extracts describe the development of Beuys‘ „expanded concept of art“ with reference to his appearances in the documenta from 1964 to 1982 and post mortem in 1987/92. Alongside, a team of CAFA students from the accompanying seminar „Cosmos Beuys“ transformed the residence’s library into a stand-alone montage exhibition.
With great distress we had to learn about the sudden and unexpected death of the new German Ambassador Jan Hecker two days after the opening of the exhibition.