KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin is one of the most progressive cultural sites in the city. Without its own collection, the flexible space collaborates directly with artists to commission works, exhibitions, and happenings. As one of the location’s for this year’s Berlin Biennale, “We don’t need another hero,” the KW Institute is also showing work by Lynn Hershman Leeson this summer.
Whitewall sat down with curator Anna Gritz giving inspiring artists an opportunity to be heard.
WHITEWALL: How do you decide on a theme for a new exhibition?
ANNA GRITZ: These themes are usually topical issues that are boiling up in society and are present in the public debate and in conversations with artists. Generally, the program is driven by artistic positions: we notice inspiring artists who speak about important matters and we like to give them an opportunity to be heard.
WW: Is there an up-stream work in your program?
AG: Yes, because it’s an evolving program: there is a link between the artists, the seasons and the exhibitions. It’s almost like a narrative story, a story we’re telling from one exhibition to the next.
WW: You used to work in London, before Berlin. What main differences do you notice in each city’s art scenes?
AG: It’s really hard to make a general statement, but I have to say a few things really strike me. Although London is much bigger than Berlin, it’s more unified. I think it’s easier to know what’s going on across the board, while in Berlin, it is much more fractured and there’s a lot of micro scenes that don’t overlap much.
In Berlin, things are happening for a certain amount of time. When something appears it disappears to let something new happen. Although this ever evolving rhythm is fast and hard to follow, it is also what keeps things interesting.
WW: How do you see the art scene evolving in Berlin over the next few years?
AG: It’s important to mention that Berlin is in a period of transition because everything is getting more and more expensive and the rent gap to other European Capitals is closing rapidly. For the last 20 plus years a lot of artists came here seeking freedom and low costs of living and working environments. With this influx, now Berlin could lose those artists who came here from all around the world, unless the city can set in place lasting support systems.
WW: How do you feel about highlighting emerging artists?
AG: It is really important for me to encourage young artists and follow their practice, but I don’t feel an urge to do so constantly. It doesn’t really matter if an artist is emerging or not if the artwork speaks to the now. This is not a question of age.
WW: Do you think being a female curator is a strength?
AG: I think it definitely can be and should be a position of power because it’s a position that has not been seen enough. When we look at the demographics, it’s still very depressing to see how little female artists and curators are in positions of power. We are working on changing that.