Europe, the City Is Burning

Europe, the City Is Burning

Stadtkuratorin Hamburg

Lawrence Weiner, sketch for sculpture near Fischmarkt, Hamburg, 1989. © Lawrence Weiner / Klosterfelde Edition.

April 26, 2014

Europe, the City Is Burning

Stadtkuratorin Hamburg

Opening: Friday, May 23, 2014, 6pm

“Europe, the City Is Burning”
Symposium: May 23–25, 2014

Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg (HFBK) 
Lerchenfeld 2 
22081 Hamburg 

Stadtkuratorin Hamburg
Stadtkuratorin Hamburg (curating public art of the city of Hamburg) is a project initiated by the city of Hamburg and a reorientation of the program Kunst im öffentlichen Raum (art in public space), which was launched by the city in 1981.

Sophie Goltz was appointed as artistic director of Stadtkuratorin Hamburg for 2014 and 2015. The initial project celebrates its opening with a symposium that is organized in cooperation with the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg.

The goal of the artistic and discursive activities of the Stadtkuratorin Hamburg program, which will unfold over the next two years, is set to begin from Hamburg but seeks to contribute to the international discourse on “European” and “Global” art and culture in urban spaces. This municipal curatorial project covers three areas: Activating explores and evaluates the history of already existing works of art in the urban space of Hamburg under the conditions of a transcultural art history. Curating examines material and performative strategies of contemporary art: What art is necessary and appropriate in times of the erosion of public democratic spaces through the influence of private interests and increasingly rebellious cities? Educating initiates cooperative projects on theoretical and practical spatial thinking and learning.

The program titled “Wir sind keine Enten auf dem Teich. Wir sind Schiffe auf dem Meer.” (We are not ducks on a pond. We are ships at sea.) will address and produce connections between the city, art, and politics that contrast with a traditional Western reading. Concepts such as “urban” and “public” are viewed from an expanded perspective: How is urban space subdivided by politics and by the senses? By what mechanisms and under what conditions is a public sphere created and what exactly becomes “public?” The program’s title is a quotation of a work by the American artist Lawrence Weiner from 1989, realized as part of Hamburg Projekte 1989 (Hamburg projects 1989). International artistic positions and discussions of art in urban spaces are tied to the specific past and present of such works of art in Hamburg.

Europe, the City Is Burning
The symposium “Europe, the City Is Burning” addresses the most pressing questions arising from the profound shifts in urban social and political tectonics by bringing together historical and contemporary actors for a reevaluation of these discussions and practices.

Serving as a kickoff of the program, former participating artists are invited to be present in a joint conversation to revisit their works and reflect upon the question: What concepts of public/space are emerging in artistic practices today? Speakers include Ute Meta Bauer (Director of the Centre for Contemporary Art at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore), Joshua Decter (author, critic, New York), Mark Dion (artist, New York), Suzana Milevska (endowed professor for Central and South Eastern European Art Histories at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna), Esther Shalev-Gerz (artist, Paris), Lawrence Weiner (artist, New York and Amsterdam).

Looking into the history of the program, the podium “1981ff.: Art in Public Space in Hamburg” looks into certain developments of the city of Hamburg and its implications for the program since 1981: How would the curators involved answer to what art in public space could be today in European cities such as Hamburg? Speakers include Achim Könneke (head of the Cultural Office of the City of Freiburg), Dirck Möllmann (curator of Art in Public Space, Graz), Nina Möntmann (professor and head of department of art theory and the history of ideas, Royal University College of Fine Arts, Stockholm), Britta Peters (curator, Hamburg), Stephan Schmidt-Wulffen (head of LikWi, Zeppelin University, Friedrichshafen), and Ute Vorkoeper (curator, Hamburg), chaired by Bettina Steinbrügge (Director of Kunstverein in Hamburg).

Recent civic movements with their social media solidarity, in cities such as Athens, Madrid, Cairo, Istanbul, New York, São Paulo, have radically changed the distance between “public” and “space” and reflect citizenship in recovering and reclaiming the city worldwide as a space for democracy: What does it mean for an activist/artistic practice today, and how can art be presented in urban spaces under such conditions? Speakers include Miguel Robles-Durán (assistant professor of urbanism, design strategies at Parsons The New School for Design, New York), Christoph Schäfer (artist, Hamburg), and Bige Örer (Director of Istanbul Biennale).

Until today Europe has often been thought to be the original site of modernity in many histories of the capitalist transition of non-Western cultures. The podium “Provincializing Hamburg?” inquires about global transcultural practices from different non-European places, and how it opens up postcolonial perspectives on Hamburg? Speakers include Diana Campbell Betancourt (artistic director of the Samdani Art Foundation, Dhaka), Cosmin Costinas (Director of Para/Site Art Space, Hong Kong), Marina Fokidis (Director of Kunsthalle Athens), Omer Krieger (curator of Under the Mountain: Festival of New Public Art, Jerusalem Season of Culture), Gabi Ngcobo (curator, Johannesburg), and Joanna Warsza (head of public program of MANIFESTA 10, St. Petersburg), chaired by Boris Buden (author, theoretician, Berlin).

The symposium is free of admission. For further information, please contact presse [​at​], or visit

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Stadtkuratorin Hamburg
April 26, 2014

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