The laboratory of form-ideas

Metamorphosis of ideas and forms

SAVVY Contemporary – The laboratory of form-ideas is a lab of conceptual, intellectual, artistic and cultural development and exchange; an atelier in which ideas are transformed to forms and forms to ideas, or gain cognition in their status quo. This is achieved with respect to conception, implementation and contestation of ideas with/in time and space.

Every two months, SAVVY Contemporary will present an exhibition in its gallery space aimed at fostering the dialogue between “western art” and “non-western art”. In this light, a curator will be invited by SAVVY’s art direction to further invite an artist from Europe or North-America and another artist from Africa, South-America, Asia or Australia. This “trialogue” will be “moderated” by the invited curator. The process of the trialogue and its result will culminate in an exhibition and a publication to the exhibition.

Is Berlin not already saturated with art spaces?

On the one hand, Berlin has a lively and active art scene which without any question sets a benchmark on an international scale. On the other hand, this internationality of Berlin’s art scene is almost restricted to a Euro-American axis with only very few presentations of art positions from other continents. Indeed these few exhibitions of non-Euro-American positions shown in galleries like the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW, House of world cultures) or in the Institut für Auslandbeziehung (ifa, institute of foreign relations) are presented in seclusions, isolated from the circular art scene, such that they could as well fulfill the clichés of the exotic and non-art.

Is “western art” the epitome of “world art” as claimed by the art critic Beat Wyss in his article Weltkunst ist Westkunst (World art is western art) Monopol magazine of July 2009?

If “western art” is European and American art from the mediaeval times until today, then Berlin is today a cosmos wherein both the “western art” and “non-western art” worlds co-exist parallel to each other without any points of osculation.

This is exactly the point of kick-off for SAVVY Contemporary as a stage whereby “western art” and “non-western art” communicate and exchange on a par with one another.

SAVVY Contemporary will present the brilliant contemporary positions from Europe and North America in relation to the magnificent art from Africa, South America, Asia or Australia in a face-à-face of “western art” and “non-western art” with all artistic, historical, socio-anthropological, political or economical connotations related to these notions. The aim is to bridge the gap between these alleged fronts and especially to let “world art” be art from all four corners of the world. This is the reason why Berlin needs a new project space.

Background and Motivation

SAVVY Contemporary strives at offering a platform of work and exhibition for international artists and curators in the fine and performing arts. A place where libertine ideas of art can flourish in a pluralistic dimension! A place where socio-psychological, political and anthropological topics can blossom in art according to Magnus Hundt’s „Homo est dei et mundi nodus“ – the human being as an intersection between the creator and the creation.

In a period in which the circular art scene in Berlin propagates the reduction of art to aesthetic values and the distancing from other societal interests, the “The laboratory of form-ideas” deliberately chooses the opposite direction. This is done in reminiscence of milestones in art history, e.g. the dadaists like George Grosz, John Heartfield and the young Max Ernst or Otto Dix, until our contemporaries like Thomas Hirschhorn, Christoph Schlingensief, Romuald Hazoumé, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Noritoshi Hirakawa or Klaus Staeck who have used their art as a mirror of their society and era. The necessity of a community-close and society-reflecting art has enforced itself despite the harsh critics projected on the last three Documenta-exhibitions curated by Catherine David, Okwui Enwenzor and Roger M. Buergel. These curators not only showed without timidity and compromises, politically motivated positions with ambitiously strong contents but also impressed with a wide range of international artists and thus blasted the usual Euro-American axis. The spirit of this work was pursued in Daniel Birnbaum’s Fare Mondi of the Venice-Biennale 2009.

In this regard, SAVVY Contemporary will be a fertile ground for a critical and intellectual discourse on the development of contemporary art as well as on positions of contemporary art in the diaspora. Due to its historical and geo-political background as a former frontline town in the East-West-conflict, Berlin is particularly stamped by an East-West-dialogue. Thereby, other important and leading issues like the North-South-dialogue were ignored for a long while.

SAVVY Contemporary takes upon itself this duty to promote and advocate the North-South-dialogue in the art scene in Berlin.

Realisation of these goals

To serve as an umbrella for the aforementioned topics, SAVVY Contemporary targets, with much zeal and zest, a dynamic art-, culture- and knowledge exchange without the constrictions of an academic corset. To achieve this, outstanding, upcoming national and international artists will be invited to deal with/ treat contemporary questions of interest. Without the claim of providing answers, these artists will use varying media of art (painting, photography, installation, video, sculpture) to formulate comments on these questions, pose new questions, raise awareness to other problems and excite contemplation on them.

In the close collaboration with upcoming, brilliant curators and artists from all corners of the globe, the following points could be of relevance

* New positions of a creative curatorial practice and their relation to “world art”
* How can non-material artistic positions be materialized in the framework of an exhibition without merely displaying them as a „representation“?
* How can communication help to integrate heterogenic media, formats or backgrounds in the same frame but still produce an artistic tension and draw attention?
* The creation of new concepts and contexts of artistic expression and presentation in relation to time and in open/public spaces.
* Reinterpretation and revision of the notion of an exhibition.
* The role of the receptor/audience/spectator in the communication axis between art works as well as between an art work and the receptor.
* Reinterpretation and revision of the notion of „World art“ in relation to itself and to the concept of „Western art“.

The following features have been set up to realise this project.

* An exhibition every two months
* Performance art / Theater / Live-music
* Exhibtion publications in limited editions of 25 pieces per exhibit
* Foundation for: Zeitschrift für Zeitgenössische „Nicht-Westkunst“/ Journal for contemporary „Non-Western art“
* Foundation for: „Performance Annuelle“ in and around 3 metro stations in Neukölln


SAVVY Contemporary has moved to Wedding in 2016 and has been founded in the district of Berlin-Neukölln. Contrary to the „ideal“ society as described in Thomas Morus‘ satirical work ‘Utopia’ (1516), Neukölln is neither a satire, fiction nor utopia. With 300.000 inhabitants from 160 nations, 33.7% of the inhabitants being immigrant, 38.8% permanent unemployment (Source: Bezirksamt Neukölln) and numerous news headlines about criminality as well as being furnished with a „Banlieue-charme“, Neukölln instead gives the impression of a perfect dystopia. But exactly this alleged polemics offer an adequate background for a cultural and class exchange, a basis for a religious discourse as well as milieu for the research of a contemporary nomadism and a re-definition of the notion of “Home”.

Your utopia is my reality and my reality is your utopia could form the guiding idea of SAVVY Contemporary – The laboratory of form-ideas.

SAVVY Contemporary is at home in Richardstraße 20 in the "Cathedral of Electricity" - a former and somehow still working transformer station by architect Hans Heinrich Müller. We are situated in the neighbourhood of the historic Richardplatz, the main plaza of the former Rixdorf village which was later in 1737 divided in to Deutsch Rixdorf and Böhmisch Rixdorf. With its traditional and historical businesses, the old buildings that are listed as historic monuments – e.g. the Bethlehem church on Richardplatz 22 (first mentioned in 1435) or the Rixdorfer blacksmith’s shop on Richardplatz 28 (one of the few buildings that was not destroyed in the 1849 fire disaster) – is the Richardplatz one of the most Berlin’s most beautiful plazas.


It is intended to support this project by acquiring financial help from sponsors.