A Field of Where, What, When
On the 8th and 9th of March, my fellow FEINART researcher Sophie Mak-Schram and myself, along with Julius Thinnes, member of the collective Die Blaue Blume e.V., will participate in a conference at Zeppelin University of international arts and cultural practitioners who work on the themes of land, place-(un)making and community-building for social, political, and ecological change. Our participation has been devised in relation to our respective research trajectories. The conference is called A Field of Where, What, When and brings our friends and collaborators at Die Blaue Blume e.V. together with five international collectives and artists, to discuss how they work locally, the kinds of knowledges and pedagogies they draw on, the new uses of land and adaptations of existing architecture they propose, and the idea of the south as a shared horizon. The collectives and artists involved are Iswanto Hartono (ruangrupa), Ernesto Oroza (Azimut, University of St. Etienne), Jakob Wirth (Make Up e.V, Operation Himmelblick), Louise Hobson (SWAY), Mirwan Andan (ruangrupa) and Unnar Örn (South Iceland Biennale).
The cultural and collective-living initiative Die Blaue Blume e.V. offers an important example of how urban architecture and spatial intervention can foster new use, community and a sense of place in the city Friedrichshafen. The initiative extends an invitation to dream but also to make dreams come true, to try out new paths and to shape its surroundings while embracing (self-) empowerment, emancipatory potentials, and collective practices of all kinds. It is meant to be an open platform for different projects to connect people and create an environment for collective experimenting, learning, and creating through art, culture and poetry, ecology, urban development, and political education. Ernesto Oroza channels the tradition of Radical Architecture into his own analytical employment of contemporary object typologies and productive forces. In lieu of functioning within the realm of manufacturing, he produces and distributes speculative models and research through various publication methods, exhibitions, collaborative practices, documentaries, and unorthodox forays into more conventional modes of architecture, interior and object design. Iswanto Hartono is one of the few contemporary Indonesian artists with a background in architecture. Known as an artist with a conceptual base, Iswanto has been exhibiting his works since the late nineties, showing works with a strong social and political content which betray his interest in history/memory, globalization, and geopolitical powers, the post-colonial, race/identity, and parts of Indonesia’s history that have consciously been forgotten. From early 2019, with ruangrupa, he is part of the artistic team of documenta fifteen. Jakob Wirth is an artist, activist, and sociologist. He works in public space and chooses his artistic language processually, depending on context and theme. It ranges from performance art, video, social practice, and direct guerrilla interventions. His main interest is to intertwine the artistic field with politics and everyday realities by hijacking unknown systems and questioning the boundaries of norms. Since the beginning of his artistic-activist activities, he works a lot in and with collectives such as Die Blaue Blume e.V. of which he is a founding member. Louise Hobson is the curator of SWAY and Deputy Director of Peak Cymru, a rural arts organization based in the Welsh Black Mountains working with artists, young people, and their communities. SWAY is a collaborative programme emerging from the intertidal edges of Barry, a town which experiences hyper-tidal waters, between an estuary and the sea, on the coast of South Wales. Working along this coastline, SWAY proposes collective conversations on attachments, entanglements, communing and collective-making, proposing a space where the poetics of watery-words can articulate the making of infinite watery-worlds. Mirwan Andan studied French Literature at the Universitas Hasanuddin and is a graduate of Political Science at the Universitas Indonesia. He has worked in ruangrupa as a curator, researcher, and developer since 2007, as well as writing and editing various books and publications. From early 2019, with ruangrupa, he is part of the artistic team of documenta fifteen. He now lives in two cities, back and forth, Jakarta (for ruangrupa) and Makassar (for family and Riwanua, a project initiative he founded with his fellow researchers, new emerging artists, and cultural activists). Artist Unnar Örn is based in Iceland and member of the South Iceland Biennale (SIB), a multidisciplinary art platform for sharpening our focus on humanity’s relationship to nature and the environment at a precarious time. From a home base at the historic farm Stóri-Klofi in the Landsveit district, the platform brings together local knowledge and creative fields for the purpose of exploring new ways of meeting the challenges of the future. Unnar’s own narrative-based investigations have focused on the principal framework and procedures involved in the construction of history. A preoccupation with the power of historiographies and institutional hierarchies has led him to push and pull at the symbolic and sometimes physical boundaries of the exhibition site.
Each artist will lead an internal workshop for each other and invited ZU staff and stakeholders on March 8 about their methods of intervening and contributing to the localities they work in. These will include conversations on artistic strategies for creating communities, architectural approaches to existing sites, reflections on ecological and project sustainability and more. The workshops are aimed at skill-sharing between academics, artists, architects, and city planners. Alongside these internal workshops, each artist will give a public talk about their practice and project at Zeppelin University on March 9. This day is aimed at generating conversation around innovative contemporary cultural uses of land, while positioning the city of Friedrichshafen – constituted primarily through the two key sectors of industrial manufacturing and agricultural production – as a key site for this discussion. The public event will be live streamed and afterwards, recordings will be made available on the FEINART website.
When this is written, primarily as a collection of the material Sophie and I have already prepared and co-written for the conference as well as material submitted by our guests, there are still ten days until everyone’s arrival. We are very grateful for the support we have received from Professor Karen van den Berg and the Chair of Art Theory and Curation, Professor Björn Þorsteinsson at the University of Iceland, Marie-Sophie Usadel, Junior Professor Meike Lettau and Rahel Spöhrer, Curatorial Head of the Artsprogram at Zeppelin University, Zeppelin Universität Gesellschaft (ZUG) and the FEINART network.