outside the box:
the relation between
art and the public
Just as you find the axolotl only in Lake Xochimilco, Mexico City’s water system, you find Komuna//warszawa only in Warsaw and Het Veem Theater only in Amsterdam. Each of them has settled in their particular place for a reason, they have acclimated to the local living conditions, developed symbiotic relationships and cohabitated among beneficiaries and predators.
outside the box is a one-year research project studying and experimenting with the living conditions and habitats of art spaces. Six art spaces are participating. All exist under similar economic conditions but possess their own dynamic and organisation of institutional life. Which role and function fulfills Kanuti Gildi SAAL in Tallinn? What kind of interactions take place between Forum Freies Theater and the politicians of Düsseldorf? How does zeitraumexit affect the cultural life of Mannheim? What impact does the Grand Theatre have on Groningen’s atmosphere? outside the box leaves the confines of Black Box and White Cube to explore an art space as a living creature, while considering its particular time, place, social, and political microcosm.
Each of the six participating art spaces acts as a guest as well as a host. As guest, a team travels across Europe to visit its host and, together with local audience members, sponsors, donors, passers-by, neighbours, politicians and critics to research its living conditions—much like conducting a field study of an organism in its natural habitat. The researchers will collect their findings—specimens, artifacts, drawings, notes, documents, guides through the urban jungle, instructions for movements in a cultural political ecosphere, maps of utopian reservations. The findings will be presented on a virtual research platform—platform.otb-research.com—together with contributions from advanced students of the Choreography and Performance MA Programme of the University Giessen. Their specific training of theoretical and critical analysis and dance and theatre practice enables them to take performance and choreography from the location of presentation into the realms of political and social spheres.
Part of the living conditions of an art space are the societal and political circumstances that dictate the way an art institution produces contemporary work—a fact surprisingly similar across Europe. A life in projects, limited in time and funds, creates the pressure to constantly produce as well as a necessity to permanently reinvent the organizational structures to adopt them to a project, all the while trying to maintain stability. The experimental conditions for outside the box partially undermine those inherent constraints in the cultural sector and establish a temporality of sharing attentive to minute variations of different organisms. The differences in the way art spaces become alive also articulate various cultural and political demands and reinforce the positions of artists.
We are delighted to have found benefactors, particularly the Kulturstiftung des Bundes, who accept and agree to the openness of the research and its possible findings, which will be presented at the market in Mannheim in June 2014.