p o s t documenta: contemporary arts as territorial agencies is an educational and artistic research program of intercultural exchange among students and academic staff from the Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig and the Athens School of Fine Arts. Conceived as a platform for experimental modes of art education, research, production, and dissemination, the program engages with the challenges of our current condition through collaborative praxis and critical discourse. Over the course of three years the project will encompass a wide range of activities and formats, including workshops, talks, publications, podcasts, online projects, and exhibitions.
The starting point of the program is a praxis-oriented, critical examination of the legacy of documenta 14. The territorial expansion of documenta to Athens in 2017 – the first time this mega-exhibition took place equally in a city other than Kassel – can be understood as a gesture of solidarity, albeit with postcolonial implications. d14 highlighted contradictions that are inherent in the art field, and exemplified the fragile interfaces between contemporary society and artist communities.
Art and cultural institutions are strategically relevant actors in territorial and spatial policies that transcend local, interlocal, and international levels. The related restructuring of urban living spaces, as a source of opportunities but also as a stress factor, is a constant companion of our city life, with the resulting gentrification often being redirected against the actors themselves. Much like in Berlin in the 1990s, artists in Leipzig and Athens have been contributing to a virulent urban development.
In the context of late capitalist economy and as a consequence of the global circulation of goods, extensive mobility, intensive digitalization, and widespread connectivity, we are experiencing a cosmopolitanism that leads to an accelerated diversification of bodies, spaces and territories. Tourism and the international art and culture industries do not only encourage desirable social interactions, increased mobility, and enhanced visibility, but also contribute significantly to the exploitation of the planet’s resources, with serious impact on the environment.
The climate crisis makes it necessary to ask ourselves what are the effects of our internationally networked system. Based on the concept of the “interlocal,” the two art academies and their respective local art scenes – as parts of the international art industry structure – are to be brought closer together to engage with one another in critical reflection on the implications of our actions as “agents” and to test alternative methods in practice. Over a period of three years, a temporary, mobile and experimental network is to be established between the two art schools, engaging with the local art scenes of both cities.
In view of ongoing social and political “crises,” whether financial, refugee, climate, or coronavirus, we ask: What and how can we learn from each other to overcome this stage? What and how can we learn together to set the foundations for our future artistic-cultural professional field beyond our studies? What formats and strategies of collective and individual artistic practices are available to us? How can we use our toolkits to contribute to a more sustainable and socially just world? How can dystopian thinking be transformed into positive forces for a common future? What is and remains relevant in art making?