Art & Criticism

We have set the date for the international Spring Academy of the BERLIN ART INSTITUTE (April 23 – 26, 2019) so that it connects with one of the most important art events in Berlin, the Gallery Weekend Berlin (April 26 – 28, 2019). The program of the Spring Academy is developed in cooperation with artists and theorists. This year it is about Art & Criticism. In addition to the lectures and time for exchange at the BAI, there will be a tour to selected galleries and project spaces at the opening of the Gallery Weekend.


Tuesday, April 23, 2019
2 PM: Reception at the BAI
3 – 6 PM: Where are we? How did we get here?
Introduction to the topic by Andreas Schlaegel, critic, curator & artist

“Contemporary art really began as a movement to provoke and challenge,” he [Dan Gilroy] explained, “and it now has been completely co-opted by big money and business. And it’s a world that’s off its axis. It’s a world that’s in conflict with itself which, for me, is the perfect setting for a film—a world that has… inherent dramatic potential.” (artnet news

“If a current superstar actor like Jake Gyllenhal is to play an art critic in what is scheduled a Hollywood blockbuster, the it is high time to re-examine the role of the art critic, in current practice in  the contemporary landscape of the arts, as much as in its effects on the popular imagination.  What is the role of the critic when this “world” is off its axis, how can we even operate in a cultural field when it is at conflict with itself? Let us attempt to map this world, its history,  the dangers it faces and its potential, from Clement Geenberg, via the “Coffeetableization of everything” (Matias Faldbakken) to instagram-likes and meme culture.  How can we get out of here? Or, better – how can we get in and effect change?” (Text by courtesy of Andreas Schlaegel)

Andreas Schlaegel (*1966 in Kinshasa, DRC) is a critic, curator and artist living in Berlin. Since the late nineties he has contributed hundreds of essays and critical writing to international art magazines such as Flash Art International (Milano), Frieze (Berlin/London), Billedkunst (Oslo), /100 (Berlin), Kunstkritikk (Kopenhagen), Spike (Berlin) and many others. He contributed essays to publications of prevalent art institutions, such as the UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; MUSAC, Leon; Aspen Museum, Colorado; Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt/Main; Thyssen Bornemisza Contemporary, Vienna; Kunsthalle Düsseldorf; Julia Stoschek Collection, Düsseldorf/Berlin, to name only a few.

His artistic practice overlaps with his writing, in focusing on developing collaborative formats, that oscillate between sculptural and performative interventions. It includes collaborations with other artists, as in »Come early, avoid disappointment« with Gelitin at TBA21 in Vienna and the Venice Biennial, 2011, »The Art of Conversation« with Paolo Chiasera and Matthew Antezzo, PSM Gallerie, Berlin, 2013, the »rhizome« network at HfbK Hamburg (since 2015), or »t=600« with Nine Budde, Bretz/Holliger and Melou Vanggaard at a celebration hall of the cemetery Lilienthalstraße, Berlin, 2018. This also includes music projects, as the Art Critics Orchestra (w. Raimar Stange, Oystein Aasan, Agnes Wegner, u.a.), or the duo Die!Landschaft with Manfred Peckl. Currently he teaches history and theory of photography and sculpture at HfG Offenbach and KHB Weissensee, where he is also founder and director of the Hochschulorchester.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019
10:30 AM – 12 noon: Lecture Artist and Writer: Who Needs Whom? by Louisa Elderton, writer, editor & curator
12 noon – 12:30 PM: Lunch Buffet
12:30 PM – 2:00 PM: Workshop

Art writing can take many different forms, from reviews and criticism to poetry and press releases. What is the history of the craft and where does its future lie? How has the art market co-opted art writing to reinforce value – and is all press good press when it comes to art? In the first part of her lecture Louisa Elderton will look at examples from the history of art writing, from Vasari to Diderot, through Clement Greenberg to Quinn Latimer and Maggie Smith to assess where we’ve come from, we are today and where art writing might be heading. We will look at how art writing styles have shifted, the role that the artist and the work play in criticism and where the writer sits in relation to the artist. The second part of the lecture will be dedicated to experimental writing exercises that will encourage participants to be free with their pens, to produce their own short pieces of art writing, both about their practice and the artworks of others.

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM: Time for artistic exchange with the directors of BAI

Thursday, April 25, 2019
10:30 AM – 12 noon: Lecture The Futile-Worthy Pursuit of Originality by Habib William Kherbek, writer, critic & artist
12 noon – 12:30 PM: Lunch Buffet
12:30 PM – 2:00 PM: Workshop

Habib William Kherbek’s presentation will consider the status of originality in the deeply commodified yet deeply remixed digital culture of today. The presentation will discuss the complicated ontology of originality, related concepts like alterity and novelty, and will seek to integrate case studies from across artistic forms as well as methodologies of cultural creation not traditionally classified as “arts” e.g. finance. Informed by insights from philosophy, economics, critical studies and linguistics, the presentation will endeavour to be inclusive and wide-ranging, placing equal value on destabilising notions of originality as on seeking to foster new approaches to creativity. Discussions and workshops following the pre-prepared presentation will include participatory and discursive aspects. 

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM: Time for artistic exchange with the directors of BAI

Friday, April 26, 2019
10:30 AM – 12 noon: Lecture Against (Americanized) German Idealism: Meme Magic Factory by Mohammad Salemy, artist, critic and curator
12 noon – 12:30 PM: Lunch Buffet
12:30 PM – 2:00 PM: Workshop

Mohammad Salemy speaks about his methodologies of writing fiction, non fiction, as well as his ambivalent content production on Facebook as a form of artistic & intellectual practice. In his hands on workshop, participants will learn of hybrid methodologies for research and production of very short fictions, status updates and memes. The participants will use these methods to produce materials that reimagine the chosen topics to push them outside of their defined and accepted boundaries using the power of words, images and memetic metaphors.

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM: Time for artistic exchange with the directors of BAI
6:00 PM: Visit to selected galleries and project spaces at the opening of the Gallery Weekend Berlin

The participation fee is 180 € per person (including buffet without studio workplace and accommodation). As a participant of the BAI Studio Program in block 05 or the BAI Friends Program and the BAI Arts Incubator as well the BAI Spring Academy is free of charge.

The fee is VAT-exempt by the Senate Administration for Education, Youth and Science pursuant to Paragraph 4 No. (21) (a)(bb) UStG (German Value Added Tax Act).

April 23 – 26, 2019 | International Spring Academy