FLAX Open Academy for Visual Arts
May 25-28th at Academy of Arts Berlin
In cooperation with the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) and the Akademie der Künste (Academy of Arts)
Date: 25-28 May 2017
Location: Akademie der Künste, Hanseatenweg 1, Berlin
In cooperation with the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC), the Akademie der Künste Berlin, and the artists Katharina Grosse and Nasan Tur, FLAX invites visual artists newly arrived in Germany (in the past 5 years), to participate in a four-day workshop, intended as an Open Academy that will include lectures, panel discussions, workshops with established artists and experts from the art world (gallerists, museum directors and representatives of cultural institutions from Europe and the MENA region) and networking opportunities, covering a number of questions that newly arrived artists have to grapple with. In addition, the program will include visits to galleries, off-spaces.
Due to limited capacity, only a total of 50 artists will be invited to attend, with 20 pre-reserved places for participants from the previous workshop organized by FLAX in 2016.
Artists interested in participating are expected to send a short CV and a portfolio (website, photographs (in jpeg or a document in pdf) to the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org no later than April 30th.
The selection will be overseen by a jury, and the process will take into consideration the works submitted and the applicant’s regions of origin. 75% of participants will be selected from MENA region, and 25% from the rest of the world. Age will not be a consideration.
Travel and accommodation costs for selected participants residing outside Berlin will be covered by the Open Academy’s organizers.
FLAX – Foreign Local Artistic Xchange. A Network for Cultural Collaboration
Founded in early 2015, FLAX is a network for cultural networking and collaboration that promotes cultural exchange and cooperation for local and newly arrived cultural workers, artists and institutions in Germany. The founding members include the Goethe Institute, Gyalpa e.V., IFA and IFA Gallery, University Weissensee, and the DAAD Artist Program. Since then, the network has grown to include several cultural institutions and foundations, such as the Academy of Arts and the HAU Theater, among others.
FLAX organizes interdisciplinary and intercultural artistic projects, and supports artists in developing their individual artistic approaches and obtaining cultural education in Germany. A major part of FLAX’s activity is a mentoring program for newly arrived artists and cultural managers from all over the world. FLAX provides support and, when possible, access to university education, scholarships, residencies, information, proposals and workshops.
FLAX also offers one-on-one consultations, hosts workshops and art classes across Germany, and recommends artists for exhibition, as well as organizing contacts to curators.
The three main coordinators of the FLAX network are:
AFAC – The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture
The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) is an independent grant-making institution in the Arab world that has been supporting individuals and associations in the production of art and knowledge, and the development and promotion of a culture of philanthropy in the Arab world and its diaspora since 2007. AFAC’s decade-long experience with nurturing creativity and freedom of expression in societies that are torn by conflict and embattled with the dangers of radicalization and political turbulence, has endowed it with extensive first-hand knowledge and a faith in the fundamental role of the arts and culture in countering morbid and sinister ideologies in society.
Since last fall, having helped facilitate a creative surge in the Arab world over the past decade, AFAC has now launched the Arab-European Creative Platform (AECP) – an initiative that seeks to respond to the presence of an exiled Arab cultural community through a program of commissions, productions, exhibitions and showcases in Europe. Addressing the challenges emerging artists face with the visibility and dissemination of their work, AFAC will program events in European cities (with a special focus on Berlin in the first year) in order to engage international audiences, institutions and the media with Arab artists and their productions. Towards this end, the AECP is structured on strategic partnerships with renowned institutions in Europe, to co-produce and co-present each event in the proposed program.
Akademie der Künste (Academy of Arts)
The Akademie der Künste in Berlin, founded in 1696, is one of the oldest cultural institutes in Europe. It is an international community of artists and has a current total of 400 members in its six Sections (Visual Arts, Architecture, Music, Literature, Performing Arts, Film and Media Arts).
The Akademie der Künste is an exhibition and event location, a meeting place for artists and people interested in the arts, where public debates on art and cultural policy take place. A key part of the Academy is its Archive. With over 1,200 bequests by artists and an extensive art collection and library, the Archive is one of the most important interdisciplinary archives of 20th century art.
Emerging artists generally face a multitude of practical challenges – from building networks to applying for grants, financing their projects, securing work space, funding travel, while trying to make a living in a highly competitive commercial art market. For those artists and cultural workers who had to forcibly leave their countries, thereby enduring an abrupt interruption in the pursuit of careers, higher education and artistic development, the challenges are multiplied.
The number of artists from the MENA region arriving to Germany since 2011 has been increasing – while some landed with the benefaction of a scholarship or other formal invitation, since 2015 a significant number have braved the perilous journey as refugees and started a new chapter of their lives in Germany almost literally from scratch. The immediate reactions from institutions and grass-roots initiatives (cultural fields included), to lend support and assist displaced cultural workers and artists in their adjustment to their new environment, were diverse and remarkable.
However, once the urgency of securing basic amenities has subsided, a different set of long-term challenges and deeper issues have surfaced, regarding the terms of inclusion of this new community (more generally referred to as “refugees”) into the German as well as European system, public perception and institutional engagements. Rooted in the conviction that creating sites and multiplying occasions for cooperation, exchange and empowerment are fundamental tenets of a just and democratic society, the Flax Open Academy for Visual Arts aims to address these as well as other questions.
Briefly stated, the objectives are:
- To invite all emerging and newly arrived artists in Germany;
- To provide tutorial workshops on how to navigate institutions, foundations, the art gallery system, museums, self- organization, access to universities, off- spaces, networking and career-building;
- To offer team or one-on-one consultations and portfolio reviews with experts;
- To offer networking opportunities, gallery and off-spaces visits;
- To organize panel discussions and debates around relevant questions, pertaining to the translation and interpretation of cultural difference, populism, activism and the terms of engagement with newly arrived artists.