How can we rebuild the world? A global pandemic, wide-spread racial injustices at boiling point and unfair cultural systems that need urgently addressing. How can the arts contribute to rebuilding the world, pulling us out of the times we are living through and give hope for a better future? How can we embrace this moment to improve those unfair cultural systems which pre-existed the pandemic, such as its carbon impact; the financial precariousness of the artist and the inequitable landscape of the art world? ‘The Artist as Consultant’, our series of digital discussions was born out of these questions.
As a Curator, I have always believed that artists are the best consultants to enact institutional change. Inspired by the Artist Placement Group, ‘The Artist as Consultant’ provides a paid platform to expose and champion artistic labour and artists’ influence in socio-political change. It is an attempt to usurp the familiar top-down hierarchical structure of the art world in which Curators, Directors and Boards make decisions and, instead, put artists in the driving seat towards systemic change. We believe it is important to provide the voices which continuously drive and innovate our industry, artists, with a platform to take direct action against institutional shortcomings.
We have invited artists including Harold Offeh, Michelle Williams Gamaker, Paul Maheke, Isabel Lewis, Peles Empire, Bik van der Pol and Kira Freije to personally consult and hold culture accountable for deep-rooted systemic injustice and outmoded practices in our industry. Themes will include the absence of Black and PoC voices in arts education, institutional tendencies of competition, parenthood in the arts and how it is possible to exist in the age of collapsing ecosystems. We hope that people will watch and learn with us, ask the artists their own questions and re-evaluate artists’ role in real effective change.
In March we at E-WERK Luckenwalde took the difficult decision to postpone our Spring and Summer programme in an effort to prioritise health, social responsibility and our collective duty as an industry. During this moment we have taken the time to consider our institutional practices in a democractic, environmental and economic capacity to assess how we can ameliorate our working models in order to build a more equivocal system. As a new cultural institution we strongly believe it is important to be held accountable for our ecological, societal and equitable cultural policy - and be the change we wish to see in the world.
E-WERK Luckenwalde opens again on 12 September where visitors can see a film reel of the broadcasts from The Artist as Consultant alongside a first look at the rest of the institution’s Autumn programme. This includes two new permanent commissions: a sculpture for the city providing free electricity for citizen’s bicycles created by Artistic Co-director of E-WERK Luckenwalde and artist Pablo Wendel. They will also launch TRAFO, a low carbon public kitchen bar. This will operate as a social space, food school, with workshops by guests including Studio Olafur Eliasson (SOE) Kitchen, and a think tank for ecological modes of eating in a programme of events curated by Katherine Thomson.
Upcoming Artist as Consultant broadcasts are as follows:
From 16 July at 7pm CET (6pm BST), episodes will be released fortnightly via the E-WERK website and Instagram (@ewerk_luckenwalde).
- Bik Van der Pol and Yates Norton, Curator, Rupert on Materials and Curiosity (Thursday 30 July)
- Isabel Lewis and Lucia Pietroiusti, Curator of General Ecology, Serpentine Galleries on Sensory Studies for Social Innovation (Thursday 13 August)
- Paul Maheke and journalist/academic Benoît L’oiseau on Coexistence in the age of collapsing ecosystems (Thursday 27 August)
- Peles Empire and KW Curator Anna Gritz on Motherhood and the Arts (Thursday 10 September)
- Kira Freije and Stella Bottai, Curator on Terms and Conditions (Thurs 24 September)
- Harold Offeh and Michelle Williams Gamaker on The Future of Art Education took place on Thursday 16 July and can be viewed here - https://www.kunststrom.com/Home.html