Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Open Call

WerkStadt Berlin e.V. 
Emser Straße 124 
12051 Berlin-Neukölln 
c/o Jason Merrill Benedict & Jule Böttner 


The WerkStadt Arts Union welcomes local and international artists working in all disciplines to submit a proposal for the next exhibition cycle:
MACHT - OHNMACHT (2016-17)

Applications will be accepted from now until the 29th of February, 2016.

Power and debility are mutually bound: facing one another, coinciding, or they can in extreme form become the opposite. Exercises of power can sometimes infer a weakness; compensating for it, attempting to absorb or hide it. Such a weakness or debility seems in turn to then have another potential against the powerful.

To make these links visible, audible, and tangible this exhibition cycle will take an interdisciplinary approach and engage with questions that are explicitly sociopolitical, as well as art-reflexive and formal in nature.

Strength and weakness are deciding factors in both domestic and foreign policy: war, crisis, impoverishment, refugee flight, and protest are themes made particularly explicit in contemporary capitalism through a prism of might and impotence. At home policy decisions are carried out with police enforcement, abroad power is revealed in global economic calculus and militarily sealed borders. Nonetheless, societal resistance becomes ever more international developing new structures with the help of network technologies.

Art can seize all of this, itself powerful but at the same time powerless. A composition can depict how power and debility are active forces inside of art itself. Artistic mediums cause common circumstances to waver and critical perspectives are opened up. But how powerful is art? Can art only mirror society or can it change it? Do artists have power? Is there room inside of artworks to address one's own powerlessness against aesthetic impressions?

Naturally these varied layers are not entirely distinct, they overlap one another. The WerkStadt would like to see, and to show, what art about power and debility in the year 2016 can look like.

Please note that we are not a commercial gallery, rather an artist-run gallery. The WerkStadt is a non-profit arts union founded in 2008 in Berlin-Neukölln. It is dedicated to the support and promotion of contemporary art and urban culture. We offer studio spaces for artists and open up our premises to visitors for meetings, presentations, and workshops. The spectrum of our arts events ranges from small concerts, to theatre and film presentations, performances, readings, discussion panels, and artist talks. For more information please visit our website and view the archives: 

Exhibitions are planned by the WerkStadt and the artists together — it is in all of our interest that you actively participate in the set-up of your exhibition in our space. The WerkStadt offers curatorial and installation assistance, as well as basic publicity (postcard, website, e-mail newsletter). The association does not charge any rent for the use of the exhibition space and takes no commission on sales, but cannot provide for insurance of art works or transit costs. We define ourselves as an alternative, non-commercial project space and invite you to contribute with your exhibition to the bustling art scene of Berlin.

Please send your application with no more than 8 images of recent work, artist CV, short description of your work, and which month you would be able to exhibit to: 

Please make sure that: 

  • images are web ready and do not exceed 250 KB each.
  • images are sent in either .JPG or .PDF format.
  • video and sound pieces have links pointing directly to them hosted on your website or a video sharing service.
  • all text is either in-line in your electronic mail or attached as a .PDF. 

Deadline: Monday, the 29th of February, 2016 at Midnight.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Saadiyat Island - The Louvre comes to Abu Dhabi

Oil sheikhs, enormous sums of money, blue-chip art, star architects, labour exploitation, sports marketing, international cultural politics, dubious curatorial and academic claims . . .
Ever since I went to the United Arab Emirates a few years ago I cannot seem to get enough of this ongoing story. It is a baffling place, full of extreme contradictions.

"Saadiyat Island is unquestionably a vanity project – aspiration inflated to monumental proportion" an analysis of the project's ambitions in the Guardian.

Even if the project can seem cloyingly contrived – “saadiyat” is the Arabic word for happiness – there is a tectonic logic to the expansion of museums outside Europe and North America. Despite recent misfortunes in emerging markets and the collapsing price of oil, the west’s monopoly on power and wealth is eroding inexorably. Other institutions, in other places, are bound to reshape the international art world: Hong Kong has already established itself as a key player in the Asian art market, while new museums from Brazil to Russia to Singapore have positioned themselves in a thriving global network of arts institutions, almost all of them devoted to art since 1945.

But why, specifically, have the Louvre and Guggenheim landed in Abu Dhabi? Who are the Guggenheim and Louvre actually for? Who will benefit from Saadiyat Island? Critics of the UAE’s poor treatment of migrant labourers argue that these museums conceal the repressive conditions of their construction. In this view, Saadiyat Island is a shop window for a society that does not exist. Can culture cross borders as easily – and with the same impunity – as capital? Saadiyat Island proposes that global museums are like fibre cables, functional infrastructure that can spread over physical geography heedless of human geography.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Dungeons & Dragons pseudo-simulator and cRPG

Someone finally decided to revive the spirit Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights . . . with co-op and DM modes. Hopefully this time without the, "endlessly configure my router mode."

Thursday, August 20, 2015

RMS Political Notes

Richard Stallman is the most conscientious and tireless person in tech. I just found that he frequently updates a list of outside-the-bubble news items and links to editorials. Totally worth bookmarking. (Link.)

Often when Stallman is brought up, people often express both respect and the criticism that he takes his beliefs too far or too literally. This reminds me somewhat of comments I've heard musicians make about Fugazi. Something like, "It's admirable to demand a $5 door charge, but sometimes you need to play the game."

Anyway here's link to a good software freedom talk that RMS gave. (Link.)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Theaster Gates & Dorchester Projects

This is the most exciting art project I have heard about coming out of Chicago in a very long time. The context is very different, but the principles are not far off from what the WerkStadt does in Berlin. His gallery is in London, so I discovered him reading a long write up in the Guardian . . . Check out the TED talk as well, he makes a good case in that peculiur TED conference way.

Over the seven years since, Gates has used the same principle – buying and stripping out properties in his neighbourhood, a mile or two south of the university but a different world entirely, remaking some of the scrap as art, selling it, and buying more property to create community spaces and houses for local artists and others. In 2011 he made a series of beautiful textured canvases covered in spectrums or coils of reclaimed fire hoses, called them In the Event of a Race Riot. One set recently sold at Christie’s for £250,000. Always channelling the money back into the “Dorchester Projects”, he is inexorably remodelling his entire neighbourhood which had previously been hollowed out for two or three decades by poverty and crime. Gates now employs and houses 60 “artists and makers”, and his practice is expanding to other cities in the American rust belt – St Louis, Missouri; Akron, Ohio; Gary, Indiana. His ambition is growing too. Two years ago he saved from demolition a bank building, with classical portico and marble interior, the last civic building standing on Stony Island Avenue, the main drag two blocks from his home. The bank was flooded out and long-abandoned. Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s mayor, and Gates’s most reliable patron, sold it to him for a dollar, on the basis that the artist would raise the money to renovate it. To this end Gates has created bonds from the marble tiles of the bank’s former urinals – readymades, indeed – inscribed, “In art we trust”. He has sold 100 of them for $5,000 each to get the renovation started. In the kind of neat reversal he lives for, he plans to sell more of his urinal bonds to collectors at the forthcoming Basel art fair. “I’m hoping Swiss bankers will bail out my flooded South Side bank in the name of art,” he says, with a broad grin.

The Guardian 


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

It is Yoko Ono's World, We Just Live in it.

Here, at last, she seemed liberated from the hate and punch lines that had plagued her entire public life. Look not at John Lennon; look only at Yoko Ono. It felt triumphant, but I also found myself wondering an inconvenient question: Is Ono’s art less subversive when we’re living in a world that loves her?
The MoMA show prompts that question, too: There is something a little dispiriting about an artist who once staged a protest against the museum being warmly welcomed within its ranks. (And it’s easy to be cynical about that embrace, given the institution’s celebrity-chasing — see the Björk debacle.) But whatever its reason, the show arrives at a moment that is, for once, in step with Ono’s vision. Her meditative instruction pieces feel perfectly aligned with our mania for so-called mindfulness. Her work is being lauded by people correcting a history of female erasure — looking anew at the Doris Days instead of the Rock Hudsons. Many of Grapefruit’s pieces have a sub-140-character brevity. They feel, now, like the 1960s version of a tweet.

Vulture . . . (Link.)

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Dynamics of Design Teams

This is a talk from this year's Python conference about things that make engineering teams dysfunctional, and how that hurts diversity within them. The points are applicable to any collaborative design environment. (Link.)

Also, employee #42 of Gensler was on this week's EntreArchitect podcast. He talked about the importance of giving the individuals on design teams autonomy and responsibility. (Link.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


While you were sleeping Mr. Chad turned himself into one heck of an exhibition designer. He even puts on a jumpsuit and gets messy on site, like a 21st century urban aesthetic paratrooper.


Wednesday, April 08, 2015

The Tyranny of Art-Architecture

Dear Museums: Stop Making Nonsense
When museums chase blockbusters, viewers lose out, because the artists who can deliver at the scale of architecture are few in number, especially as the scale grows.

Following the links in the article to a feedback loop of various outraged art critics (about the Björk exhibition for example) is a good time. It would appear that Mr. Biesenbach chasing celebrities is not approved of, although I suspect his success in this area is a big part of why he got his posts at the MOMA & PS1 in the first place.