Lichtenberg Studios

Since 2006, Lichtenberg Studios has been the home of an international artist-in residence programme, located in the top floor of a Wilhelminian-period apartment building in the ‘Victoriastadt’ quarter, not far from the historical Tuchollaplatz square, in the Berlin district of Lichtenberg. Between 2006 and 2007, the Arts Council England – North East organised residence periods for artists here in conjunction with Lichtenberg’s Arts and Cultural Office. Zuzana Lola Hruskova, Claire Davis, Cathryn Jiggens, Gregory Maas and Kim Kim were among the artists who worked here. The multi-media artist Francis Gomila used the residence up to 2010 for a wide range of projects, not just in Lichtenberg.

From 2011, Lichtenberg Studios will take over this facility and offer artists from all over the world the opportunity to live and work in an interesting district in former East Berlin and to obtain their own impressions of Berlin and the city’s art scenes. The residence period of a maximum of two months will provide enough time to do all of these things. The project is aimed at artists, writers, architects and others who are interested in urban space.

The guiding principle is the idea of intervening in the district using low-threshold projects: starting with the tourist-like behaviour of the resident artists, who will explore the district as researchers or simply as curious strollers, and extending right through to concrete projects in public space in Lichtenberg.

With ‘projects’, we are referring to small-scale, mostly unobtrusive interventions that will generally take place without being announced in advance and will appear natural and spontaneous. This strategy is based on an approach that was already being debated back in the 1970s: i.e. that art is an integral part of life, and it should not be something distant and mythical that is elevated up onto pedestals. Lichtenberg Studios intends to help focus the attention of the artists-in-residence on the district of Lichtenberg itself, its history, architecture, and its inhabitants and their lives.

This idea has been conceived at a fundamental level and on a long-term basis, and will be accompanied and supported by an annual exhibition of the project results in the Galerie im Ratskeller in Lichtenberg and by the production of a small, free information brochure for interested members of the public, which will document the artists’ residence periods over the year along with the projects realised.

Why Lichtenberg?

Lichtenberg is interesting from an urban-space perspective (as it includes densely populated inner-city areas, East German pre-fabricated tower blocks of flats and single-family houses) and also offers other facets such as leisure facilities (Tierpark zoo, Karlshorst horse-and-trap racing track) and more prosperous residential areas (Karlshorst, Rummelsburger Bucht). The Berlin district of Lichtenberg is ideally suited for an artist-in-residence programme, not least because of its slightly peripheral status as a settled urban district that is not regarded as “in”. The major unknowns in these artistic interventions will be the local inhabitants themselves as potential recipients. The area has less than 10 percent migrants, who are mainly a legacy from GDR times and come from Asia or Eastern Europe. The age structure of the district is characterised by 40 percent of the residents being over 45 years-of-age.

The local residents are the most important factor in the forms of temporary art in public space that are planned. The art projects will be conceived and realised with the locals in mind, even when it is not intended that they will consciously perceive these projects as art in certain cases. The first projects in public space in Lichtenberg have met with an unexpectedly positive response. It almost seemed as if people were waiting for something to happen here. What the local residents have had to say to the artists has also been interesting. Actions in public space are never a one-way street; instead, they always have surprises in store for everybody involved.

Guest artists

The guest artists will be selected according to a number of considerations. Alongside the ability to work on projects in a professional manner – which includes openness, tolerance and willingness to engage in discussion – it is the concrete projects themselves that will also lead to an invitation. These projects will mainly take place in and use temporary project spaces (for a period of around one month). We are seeking ideas (approaches) and, above all, artists who are interested in realising these ideas within the framework of Lichtenberg Studios. In addition to residential periods by international guests (one to two months) and Berlin-based artists (one to two weeks), one or two university projects every year will also be carried out with students. Planned here are projects with university classes from the areas of architecture, photography and public art. Projects with historical or cultural-sociological approaches are also conceivable.

Framework conditions

Lichtenberg Studios will provide resident artists with free accommodation and a work room. It is currently not possible to provide any additional financial support beyond this. It is hoped that our financial situation will improve over the course of the year. However, small sums can be made available to help with the costs of realising projects and, in certain cases, also for the production of a small brochure with the results of projects.

If you are interested in applying, please contact us at info@lichtenberg-studios.de, describing yourself and your plans; there is no application form. There is also currently no application deadline, and places will be awarded at short notice.

Lichtenberg Studios is a project organised by Intervention Berlin e.V. in cooperation with Berlin-Lichtenberg’s Arts and Cultural Office.

January, 2011