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 one 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 residence project gives artists from all over the world the opportunity to live and work in a fascinating district in former East Berlin and to form their own initial impressions of Berlin and the city’s art scenes. The duration of each artist’s stay is generally one month, which allows enough time to do all of these things. The project is primarily aimed at visual artists, but is also open to others who have an interest in the district of Lichtenberg.

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 explore the district as researchers or simply as people walking around and observing, but also by means of concrete projects in public space in Lichtenberg.

This concept of intervention can also be regarded as an opportunity presented to residents and passers-by to perceive the (public) space that surrounds them in a new manner, to discover new things and, most importantly, to see that (public) space does not have predefined, unalterable characteristics.

The projects are small-scale, mostly unobtrusive interventions that generally take place without being announced in advance and that 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 should not be something distant and mythical that is placed on a high pedestal. Lichtenberg Studios focuses the attention of the artists on the district of Lichtenberg itself, its history, architecture, and its inhabitants and their lives.

The guest artists are selected according to various considerations, such as their ability to carry out interventions in public space in a professional manner – which requires openness, tolerance and willingness to engage in discussion – or else in connection with specific projects such as research work.

Another focal area is cooperation with international institutions, and here there is an emphasis on two-way exchange. Cooperation with the Ministry of Culture of Gibraltar has unfortunately been discontinued after three successful years; the remaining cooperation partners are the Goethe-Institut in Bangalore, the ‘1Shanthiroad’ studio gallery in Bangalore, and ‘DIEresidenz’. As part of its ‘bangaloREsidency-Expanded’ programme, the Goethe-Institut sends one or two residents each year; ‘DIEresidenz’ sends one artist, and ‘1Shanthiroad’ sends one resident every two years. The latter two institutes participate in exchange arrangements, i.e. Lichtenberg Studios also sends artists to these institutes with the same frequency.

In addition to residential periods by international guests (one month) and Berlin-based artists (two weeks), a university project is also carried out every year with students from various universities, which are generally art schools. This takes the form of a one-week workshop on interventionist art in public spaces, at the end of which the participants have to present a work that they have implemented. Up to now, we have cooperated with the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and with the art universities in Bremen, Kassel, Berlin-Weissensee, Saarland, Frankfurt am Main and Halle.

Lichtenberg Studios also regularly organises discussion get-togethers where a dinner is prepared to welcome new visitors from abroad, to establish contacts for the residence period, and to foster direct communication within and also beyond the confines of specific projects. Exhibitions that present the ‘results’ of the residence projects are also held in an exhibition space that is shared with ‘Stadtmuseum Lichtenberg ’ on the ground floor of the building.

Lichtenberg Studios has an average of around 14 visitors each year, holds about ten discussion meetings, and organises around three in-house exhibitions and up to ten small-scale interventions in public space in Lichtenberg.

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