The driving question of “Die Balkone: Life, Art, Pandemic and Proximity” — the initiative that took place during the Easter weekend at the windows and balconies of Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg — is a well-known one: how does art respond to our time? It was an urgency that put us into motion, to break the sense of helplessness which is intensified by the media. The postponed exhibitions and events, fired museum educators, collapsing budgets, the feeling that whatever we do we can only do in the digital realm, and without asking who profits from it and the privilege of staying home. In the meantime, when some of us can lock ourselves in and some of us can’t, some governments are making dangerous decisions to consolidate their power that may change the course of the future after Covid-19. To be able to translate what Naomi Klein very recently phrased as “to kick the door of radical possibility open” into our field of contemporary art meant challenging exhibition/project making structures and working codes. To go on the ground, to start from what we know best, to produce a response, a connecting gesture in a short while, a smoke sign to tell one another “I am here, I am alive” with zero budget, no commissioning frame, no commissioning at all, no funders, no opening, no spectacle, no fly in and out, no view and preview, no VIP and no champagne, no market in the way that is usually exercised in the professional contemporary art world. The common concern we all had with the participants has been more substantial than the “normal” codes of conduct.
Joanna Warsza is a Program Director of CuratorLab at Konstfack University of Arts in Stockholm, and an independent curator interested in how art functions politically and socially outside the white cubes. She was the Artistic Director of Public Art Munich 2018, curator of the Georgian Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale and associate curator of the 7th Berlin Biennale among others. In Spring 2020 together with Övül Ö. Durmusoglu she co-initiated Die Balkone. Life, art, pandemic and proximity in windows and balconies of Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin, where they both live.
Övül Ö. Durmusoglu
Övül Ö. Durmusoglu is mentor and program co-leader in the Graduate School in University of the Arts in Berlin and a visiting professor for Art and Discourse in Hochschule für Bildende Kunst Braunschweig. As a curator, she acts between exhibition making and public programming, singular languages and collective energies, material and immaterial abstractions, worldly immersions and political cosmologies. She has very recently co-initiated "Die Balkone: Life, Art, Pandemic and Proximity” together with Joanna Warsza in windows and balconies of Berlin’s Prenzlauerberg where they both live. With her writing Övül contributes to different publications, online platforms and magazines such as Texte zur Kunst and Frieze.