NETZWERK  |Berliner Projekträume



Magazin for Artists and  Artnews, December 2005

– Silvia Sonnenschmidt

In Berlin something is always going on in the art scene, of course. Not everything is commercial, one also finds interesting sponsoring ideas for innovative projects. One only has to know where to find them.

To let participate in art.

About two years ago, artists and art initiatives began settling in the Brunnenstrasse. A successful type of artist run gallery with famous predecessors, such as the Liga Gallery, founded in 2002 by Leipzig artists in Berlin Mitte, continued to develop. Usually, a group of young artists rent their own exhibition spaces in a rather neglected area with empty, cheap storefronts and then hire a gallery director. The artists share the financial costs of a gallery, for collectors the prices are low, the work is promising, and the gallery owner can work out whether the artists and their works can hold up in the market without taking high risks.  A different model: also on the Brunnenstrasse, close to the as of yet –œundiscovered– Bernauer Strasse; this is the storefront arttransponder, an art and project space, founded in 2004 and active as non for profit space since 2005. A special focus lies on so called participatory art projects intended to involve persons who have little or no access to contemporary art. Some projects  which took place these past two years consciously and visibly integrated people from the immediate environment and involved them through the initiative of the participating artists by letting their voices be heard and making their presence visible in the exhibition space. 
For example in the project Kredit II, 2007. For this exhibition, the Swiss artist Johannes Burr switched sides and slipped into the role of the banker. As mobile credit bank, he traveled through the Rosenthatler Vorstadt, in search of a new creditor. Johannes Burr gave one person a suitcase with a video camera, video tapes and contract preprints and the signage –œKredit–, as well as the request to hand the suitcase over to someone else, to make a film with them and to complete several tasks. The additional value of the project lies not only in the video tapes that are returned to the artist, and edited into a chain film, but also the social interaction among  participants that would otherwise have not taken place in the immediate environment of the exhibition space which became part of the exhibition.

In the project Auf dem Boden der Zeit, 2007, already before the exhibition people foreign to art were asked. For the project Tatjana Fell and Nina Lundström collected knitted pieces from participants sewed them together and invited the public, to participate directly on location by knitting, by spending their time and to confirm this with a –œproduct–.

arttransponder is an artificial term. According to Wikipedia, a transponder is an appliance for radio communication transmission, which takes in signals from the outside and automatically answers. The term transponder is composed of the terms transmitter, sender and responder. Transponders may be active and passive.
Tatjana Fell, Anna Zosik, Lisa Glauer and Constanze Eckert took part in the post graduate program of the Institute for Art in Context, University of the Arts, Berlin. During work on the book project: What are we getting at- Experimental Art for Art Education, edited by Eva Sturm (2004), they became acquainted with each other. A project space seemed like an ideal place in order to have a sort of art laboratory wherein attention was simultanously paid to the aesthetics of presentation as well as fanning out contextual relationships within which the art in question is produced, represented and perceived.

Tatjana Fell and Lisa Glauer comment on their work in the project space today in the following way: –œIn the course of the various projects we realized, authorization processes became visible and were simultaneously repeatedly questioned: how does art come into being here? When is art? Who does art belong to? Who has the power to define what art may be?  Recently, questions regarding the ethical limitations of some projects were discussed: what happens if  an unacceptable answer is given within the participatory processes? In addition, we are interested in viewing art from within an institutional critical perspective and making visible existing or developing theoretical affinities to other professional fields and to debate these.–

–œarttransponder accepts national and international applications for review. Approximately nine projects are sponsored per year. In the first place, we sponsor participatory and multilevel  art projects whereby a visibility and reflection regarding art production definition processes are important. The relationship of artists as initiators of participatory projects to the participants often leads to a questioning and researching of traditional hierarchies in the arts–, Fell and Glauer continue.

In a two step application process, applications are first sent in by email. The deadline is August 15th. A project application must include a project description, a financial plan and timeline and brief CVs of the participants.
 A four person jury selects projects and applicants and invites them to an interview. During this interview, organizational details are dealt with or additional suggestions are made by the jury, for example regarding additional levels regarding the involvement of the public in the form of an education program or discussion or to work on a publication for the project. It should be noticeable in the application that the applicant is specifically interested in this institution and that they have informed themselves regarding arttransponder. arttransponder sponsors financially and  offers organizational help in terms of press work, and works out exhibition concepts.
hard to die_ schwer zu sterben is the title exhibition currently taking place in arttransponder's project space – a multilevel video installation of the artist Selda Asal from Turkey (through Dec. 15, panel discussion on the 9th) Selda Asal's fifth film of the complex restore hope was produced in collaboration women threatened by honor murder who fled their families as a consequence. In addition, the exhibition features additional films from the project restore hope presented in a sensitive video projection. They visualize results of a collaboration with women between the ages of 14-18 years that have attempted suicide as well as street kids addicted to glue and other solvents.