ARTension: Straight forward with...

Artension is an open platform for a critical discourse on and between artistic, scientific and other socially relevant positions. We invite guests to present their projects and discuss their subjects of interest in a public debate. We create a space for direct and intense engagement with concrete ideas, as well as a possibility for a first-hand experience, which can be meaningful for the audience.


...Mia Mäkelä!

23rd of April 2013

Green Matters

Moderating: Prof. Dr. Ariane Berthoin Antal
Curator: Maria Ptqk

The Artist as Investigator

This ARTension session will reflect on the role of the Artist as Investigator through the contributions of Prof. Dr. Ariane Berthoin Antal from the research unit "Cultural Sources of Newness" and artist and documentarist Mia Mäkelä who will show her video "Green Matters Handbook for Algae Gatherers" and discuss her experience looking into the environmental issues of the Baltic Sea. Art environments are often perceived as open laboratories and the investigative practices of artists as a key model for a new form of research. They are highly relational, feeling at ease in the crossroads of disciplines and free from the formalities and hierarchies of the academia as well as from the closed profit-oriented structure of R+D departments.

- Part 1 -
Cultural Sources of Newness.
by Prof. Dr. Ariane Berthoin Antal
Project presentation

The research unit Cultural Sources of Newness was established in 2008 by the W2B (Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung), the Social Science Research Center in Berlin. It aims to address the cultural factors that favor creativity and the cultural conditions under which newness is recognized and valued, drawing on multiple disciplinary perspectives such as: economic sociology, cultural economics, organizational development, cultural anthropology, political science and urban studies.

- Part 2 -
"Green Matters. Handbook for Algae Gatherers"
(11 min, Finnish with English subtitles)
by Mia Mäkelä

In this video and handbook, Mia Mäkelä approaches the environmental issues around the eutrophication of the Baltic Sea. Her experiments with the green algae, an essential source of oxygen with prospects of using it for energy and food in the future, explore their possible use with traditional rug-machine techniques. The project was presented as part of an exhibition at the botanical garden of Turku on the occassion of TURKU 2011- Cultural Capital of Europe. It was commissioned by "Curated Expeditions to the Baltic Sea" by Capsula.

- Part 3 -
The Artist as Investigator
by Mia Mäkelä

Mia Mäkelä will present the research process behind "Green Matters. Handbook for Algae Gatherers", in which she had to engage with an eclectic set of knowledge, ranging from biology and environmental politics to rugtechniques. Taking that as a starting point, she will reflect on the position of artists in scientific and interdisciplinary projects and address the key question of their role as investigators, social mediators, political agents or "agents provocateurs".

Prof. Dr. Ariane Bethoin Antal is program leader for Artistic Interventions in Organizations in the research unit "Cultural Sources of Newness" (WZB) and professor of Organizational Development and Intercultural Management in the Technical University of Berlin. She has recently published "Managing artistic interventions in organizations. A comparative study of programs in Europe" (with R. Gómez de la Iglesia and M. Vives Almandoz, edited by Gotheburg.
TILLT Europe, 2011)

Mia Mäkelä is an artist, real-time visual performer, educator and documentarist. Her current projects include the live visual set for the opera "La Figure de la Terre" with premiere in Berlin in April 2013 and a documentary on traditional healing in Adivasi communities in India. She is an author on the topic of live visual performance and expanded cinema.

...Laura Méritt!

17th of January 2013
7 pm

Frauenkörper neu gesehen: Diskussionsrunde mit Laura Méritt

Dr. Laura Méritt ist feministische Linguistin, Aktivistin, Kommunikationswissenschaftlerin, Autorin und Herausgeberin. Sie ist außerdem Betreiberin eines wöchentlich stattfindenden Salons in Berlin Kreuzberg und des sexpositiv und feministisch orientierten Sexshops Sexclusivitäten.

Wieviel sexuelle Selbstbestimmung und Selbstermächtigung ist Frauen heute möglich? Unter welchen Bedingungen hat sich unser Wissen (und Unwissen) über „die weibliche Sexualität" und „den weiblichen Körper" entwickelt, und welche persönliche und politische Beziehung haben wir zu diesem Wissen? Was ist die weibliche Prostata? Im Kontext dieser und anderer Fragen ist das illustrierte Handbuch Frauenkörper neu gesehen entstanden.

Die amerikanische Erstausgabe A New View of a Woman's Body erschien 1981 in den USA, veröffentlicht von der Federation of Feminist Women's Health Centers, die aus der Frauenbewegung hervorging. Sie erregte Aufsehen mit Erkenntnissen zu weiblicher Sexualität und Möglichkeiten der Gesundheitsversorgung (z.B. mit Blick auf Lust, Verhütung, Abtreibung), die über die vergangenen Jahrhunderte zurückgedrängt worden waren. Die Autorinnen kritisierten den Status Quo männlicher Vorherrschaft in Bereichen wie dem Gesundheitswesen, der Wissenschaft sowie der Wissensproduktion generell. Auf der Grundlage von eigenen empirischen Studien, insbesondere der vaginalen Selbstuntersuchung, revolutionierten sie die Sicht auf den weiblichen Körper und machten sich, die Frauen selbst, zu den Subjekten ihrer Erforschung.

Signifikante Teile dieses Wissens haben bis heute weder in die medizinische Fach- noch in die Sex-Ratgeberliteratur Eingang gefunden, geschweige denn in den Schulunterricht oder in die Berichterstattung der Medien. Korrekte und positiv konnotierte Begriffe für den weiblichen Sexualkomplex bzw. seine verschiedenen Teile sind außerdem nach wie vor rar. Die Ursachen und Konsequenzen dieser Defizite werden zu diskutieren sein.

Kürzlich hat Laura Méritt eine umfassend überarbeitete Fassung der deutschsprachigen Erstausgabe Frauenkörper neu gesehen (1987) herausgegeben, erweitert um aktuelle Themen (z.B. sexuelle Orientierungen und Geschlechtsidentitäten, kosmetische Genitalchirurgie) - und damit bereits ein beachtliches Medienecho hervorgerufen.

Bei SAVVY Contemporary wird Laura nicht nur "Frauenkörper neu gesehen" vorstellen, sondern auch allgemein über die politische und die private Relevanz von körperbejahendem, sexpositivem Feminismus hier und heute sprechen.

ARTension ist eine Plattform für offene, kritische Diskussionen zu und zwischen wissenschaftlichen, künstlerischen und anderen gesellschaftlich relevanten Positionen.

Die Diskussion wird auf Deutsch stattfinden.

Moderation: Ariane Rutz

...Karen Wohlert and Scott Bolden!

18th of October 2012
7 pm and

A collaborative project for a public tree house in Berlin Wedding

Das Baumhaus is a collaborative project between local and international artists, designers, creatives and active people from numerous backgrounds. Together we're acting on the little voice in our head that says, "What is it I can do to make the world a better place?" Our answer is to create a space that inspires people to come together, communicate in meaningful ways and become part of a growing culture of active engagement. One could think of das Baumhaus as an active laboratory to support the development of an urban culture which is both environmentally and socially sustainable.

We think, our idea is quite like a community garden, except instead of plants, in das Baumhaus we can grow networks of active people and sustainable ideas to fulfill shared goals. We thought: wouldn't it be great if there were more places to go where the main idea, culture and expectation is based on meeting new people to have good conversations with, finding common ground and engaging in collaborative efforts to make the world a better place. That's when we started developing a strategy to build a place in a special symbolic way that would make it functional, inspiring, groovy and fun...

So now it's about building a tree house around a big structural column in the middle of a dramatic 140m2 (1500ft2) space with high ceilings and transforming it into an inspiring and fantasy-like public space. Why a tree house? It's a cozy place built together by the people of the neighborhood where they can meet, play, imagine and create; a concept familiar to people from many cultures. Building das Baumhaus will create an evolving functional artwork open to the public will make high quality art and design intimately accessible and useable by the public.

Starting in November, local artists and neighbors will work together along with international collaborators to build the space, everyone contributing what they love to do. It's all about coming together to develop collaborative installations of ideas, art and design. The space will be built in an organic design style influenced by each collaborator's individual art, ideas and sensibilities. A decent visualization might be to imagine what a space would look like if it were a combination of elements from Gaudi, Frank Lloyd Wright, Lord of the Rings and Avatar all in one, inspired by aesthetics found in nature.

Moderation: Ariane Rutz

...Dough Fishbone!

30th of April 2012
7 pm

Doug Fishbone, born 1969, is an video and performance artist living and working in London. He earned a Masters degree in Fine Arts at Goldsmiths College. Since 1998 he has realised solo projects and exhibitions in Ecuador, New York City, London, and Copenhagen among others, as well as numerous group exhibitions. By means of satire and irony he contrasts different contexts and puts the absurdity of the mass media, consumer society, and globalisation up for discussion.

Within the scope of the open and critical discussion series ARTension, Doug Fishbone and SAVVY Contemporary will screen the film Elmina, shot in Ghana in 2010. Doug Fishbone is the initiator and coproducer of this film and takes the lead role of Ato Blankson, a Ghanaian farmer – though being white and without the film ever addressing the issue, while otherwise conforming to the characteristics of Ghanaian or rather West African film in every respect.

Elmina brings together two milieus which usually form a sharp contrast: on the one hand the world of popular Ghanaian film with the main emphasis on melodramatic and gripping entertainment, where a sociocritical momentum can be conveyed in passing, on the other hand the intellectualised art world of Europe and North America or “the West”. Accordingly, the film is presented to its audience by applying a two-fold strategy: in Europe as an art product, exhibited at TATE BRITAIN and shown at renowned film festivals, in Ghana as an entertainment film, sold at a low price on street markets.

In Ghana, the spectators find themselves confronted with the “inappropriate” ethnicity of the protagonist, who nonetheless acts quite naturally in the midst of the familiar potpourri of film narrative motifs such as corruption, murder, intrigues, and globalisation. The questions thereby posed substantially lead beyond pure entertainment spectacle.

In Europe, a context not well-known to mainstream art consumers is put across through a “normally” readable main character. The foreign setting with its exuberant visuality and a plot that, from a “Western” perspective, appears heavily overloaded surround this character seamlessly. On the basis of its political implications alone, this contextual displacement demands an open-minded engagement correspondent to the currently predominant discourses on the reception of internationally oriented art. Do we in fact need a white actor playing a black protagonist to consider an African film worth watching, or even discussing?

It is exactly these discourses that link Elmina to the fundamental objective of the project space SAVVY Contemporary, namely fostering the exchange of ideas and the interaction between ”Western art” (circles) and “Non-Western art” (circles) – especially, as our core audience includes both milieus addressed by Elmina.

Moderation: Ariane Rutz

Press release

...Koyo Kouoh!

25th of April 2012
7 pm

Moderation: Roger Martin Buergel

Mediations of the Self - African contemporary in transformation
The terrain of artistic and intellectual practice in Africa is in rapid change. new spaces, new climates, new languages of negotiations and mediations are arising on the landscape. The age of representation and advocacy from the late 80's through the early 00's is gradually replaced by a new generation of practitioners interested in the power of localities and their environments. This talk will engage with significant voices in that field to draw a new cartography of production and discourse for Africa.
Koyo Kouoh is a cameroonian born independent exhibition maker and cultural producer educated in Banking Administration and Cultural Management in Switzerland and France. She is the founder and artistic director of RAW MATERIAL COMPANY, a center for art, knowledge and society. Kouoh is currently serving as agent to Carolyn Christov- Barkagiev’s documenta 13. She collaborated with the Dakar Biennale of Art from 2000-2004 and co-curated with Simon Njami Les Rencontres de la Photographie Africaine in Bamako in 2001 and 2003. Specializing in photography, video and art in the public space, she has curated numerous exhibitions internationally and written on contemporary African art. Her latest exhibitions “HYPOCRISY: THE SITE SPECIFICITY OF MORALITY” co- curated with Stina Hoegkvist was on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Oslo. In collaboration with Anne-Marie Bouttiaux and David Adjaye, she curated he contemporary section of GEO-graphics, an exhibition that celebrated 50 years of African Independence at Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels in 2010. She co-curated “MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME, contemporary hospitality in a changed world” an exhibition and community program in collaboration with Charlotte Bagger- Brandt for Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen. The project reflected on the notion of hospitality in contemporary art in the context of international migrations. Kouoh is associate curator of Salon Urbain de Douala, a festival of art in the public space initiated by Doual’art in Douala, Cameroon. She lives and works in Dakar.

...Emeka Okereke!

18th of April 2011
7 pm


Invisible Borders Trans-African Photographic Initiative was founded in 2009, in a bid to contribute through art and photography to the patching of numerous gaps and misconceptions posed by frontiers within the 54 countries of Africa. It is an artists-led initiative which in itself is a product of the Invisible Borders Road Trip Photography Project organised and executed annually by as many as 10 Nigerian photographers. The project is trans-African in its orientation, and sees the participating artists collectively taking road trips across Africa to explore and participate in various photographic events, festival and exhibitions while engaging on a daily basis with the environment and the people encountered. The emphasis is primarily on the collective journey of the participating artists who, during their momentary stops in capital cities, create photographic works that often reflect their individual approach to engaging with local artists, art practitioners and the inhabitants. They also collaborate intensively with colleagues from each of the countries involved. Underpinning the project are several major aims:

• To tell Africa’s stories, by Africans, through photography and inspiring artistic interventions.
• Encourage exposure of upcoming African photographers towards experiencing art and photography as practiced in other parts of the continent.
• Establish a platform of cultural network that encourages and embraces trans-African
artistic relationships within the continent.
• Contribute towards the socio-political discourse shaping Africa of the 21st Century.

Emeka Okereke born in 1980 is a Nigerian photographer who currently lives and works between Nigeria and The Netherlands. He came in contact with photography in 2001.He is a member of Depth of Field (DOF) collective, a group made up of six Nigerian photographers. His works mingles between conceptual photography and documentary. Over the past years, he has worked strictly in black & white, but currently, employs other media (graphics, video, sound, and literature), which makes his artistic practices seem more and more active and dynamic by the day. His works deal mostly with subjects and issues that involve the society and the emotions dissipated through cosmic coexistence of human beings alongside the non-humans. In the past, he has explored versatile ways of communicating his own particular vision - in poetry, in video works, in multi-layered exhibitions in the public space as opposed to the gallery, in power point and video presentations of the various projects he was involved in.


13th of December 2011
7 pm

In the course of the exhibition Perspectives on in / outside we kindly invite you to a presentation by and discussion with Christof Mayer and Francesco Apuzzo of raumlaborberlin:
Acting in public
Appropriation and activation of public spaces through collective processes are some of the main subjects of raumlaborberlin. Using the example of Chaise Bordelaise and Sedia Veneziana, Francesco Apuzzo and Christof Mayer will explain the concept of construction as a social act and an instrument for the formation of communities.

...Emeka Udemba!

28th of Novemeber 2011
7 pm

Presentation of the artproject ‘Closed space’- (Berlin /Neukölln - Johannesburg/Hillbrow) by Emeka Udemba
The project ‘Close Space’ questions the identity of urban spaces and how they come to be. It traces what produces them as well as what they produce and follows the question of how a space can be creatively accessed, engaged documented and understood. This project alludes to the historical as well as contemporary context of two infamous cites: Neukölln in Berlin and Hillbrow in Johannesburg. Using visual imagery, the aim is to look for affinities, differences and other peculiarities with a view of understanding how these spaces evolve.
Born 1968, Emeka Udemba studied art education at the Lagos state collage of education/University of Lagos, Nigeria. Udemba’s art practice is a process of continuous inquiry where various creative genes interweave. He produces installations, performances, photography, video and drawings. His works explore questions underlining individual as well as collective experiences dealing with issues of socio-cultural influences and politics. He has won various prizes, grants and residencies and is also involved in curatorial art practices in public spaces. He lives and works in Freiburg and in Lagos.

We warmly invite you to the presentation of Emeka Udemba´s work, which will be followed by a Q&A session and a buffet.

Moderation: Andrea Heister

... Sarah Vanagt!

27th of October 2011
7 pm

Film screening and open talk with the video artist Sarah Vanagt
Sarah Vanagt (*1976) studied History at the universities of Antwerp and Groningen then trained at the London National Film and Television School.
In her works history and its narration play a major role. Her research led her to the war zone between Congo and Rwanda where she found in the harmless play of children, political dimensions and a revelation of the social status quo in these regions. The sensitive connection between history, reality and their intertwinement become visible.
Her work has been shown at several international film festivals and is part of the series of political films shown at Kino Arsenal. She lives and works in Brussels.


* First Elections (15 min.):
Goma, Eastern Congo, April 2005: A group of children act out the first democratic elections since independence. Their election game includes a lot of violence and death. The relationship between local politics and the children is embodied by Bébé Rico and Bébé Elégance, two animated babies used in commercials. The Rico advertisements have a political connotation in the collective imagination of Congolese people. Bébé Rico is identified with President Kabila, and Bébé Elégance with Vice-President Bemba.
* Little Figures (15 min.)
* + a work in progress.

... Tobias Wendl!

19th of Juli 2010
7 pm

We warmly invite you to the screening of the documentary Helping Things to Reappear – Conversations with Minnette Vari (Video 43 min) by Thorolf Lipp and Tobias Wendl. It is the first part of a series that portrays three leading South African artists (Minette Vari, Tracey Rose and Johan Tom) who work with their own body, documentin, altering and irrealizing their performanes with video.
Subsequent to the screening, Tobias Wendl will be present for further discussion and an open talk.

Minette Vari, born 1968 in Pretoria, is a South African media artist who obtained her M.A. in fine arts from the University of Pretoria in 1997 and currently lives and works in Johannesburg. She critically engages with digital technologies, focusing on problems of representation within mediated images and mass media. She creates surreal scenarios with alien-like characters and her play with the untrust- and untruthfulness of media leads to the consideration as to what extent this could be the essential feature of media itself. (

Thorolf Lipp is an anthropologist, filmmaker and the owner of arcadia film production in Berlin. His research focuses on the Oceania and Sub-Saharan Africa, portraying the local media and art scenes as well as the topics of religion (myth, ritual) and intangible cultural heritage.

Tobias Wendl is professor for the art of Africa at Free University in Berlin and filmmaker. Over the last two decades he has produced award-winning documentaries on African artists and cultures. Before being appointed as professor at the FU in March 2010, he was the director of the IWALEWA-Haus, Bayreuth, an important research and exhibition center in Germany for African cultures. (

Moderation: Andrea Heister, M.A.

... Kader Attia!

31st of May 2010
7 pm

In the first part of this series we will like to discuss with the artist, Kader Attia, about the extent to which art can serve as an environment or create a condition to come to terms with or process history in the present.
In his installations and photography Kader Attia deals, inter alia, with the economic, political and cultural aspects of architecture in different contexts; be it in state building or in the legacy of the colonial era. The artist gains inspiration from travelling and coupled with researches on art theory and history, he lays a foundation for the development of his works.
Some points of interest in this discussion are:
Which questions does he pursue in the development process of his works related to the heritage of the colonial era?
To what extent is it possible, with the help of artistic positions, to instigate a reflection or even create awareness for historical contexts?

Kader Attia was born in 1970 in Saint-Dennis (France). He lives and works in Berlin and Algiers. Having taken part in many international exhibitions and biennials, Attia’s works have obtained, on an international scale, a wide critical acclaim. Currently, his installation piece with scrapped sheet-roofs, Kasbah, can be seen in the Sydney biennial, as well as other works in the DREAMLANDS exhibition in the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Together with the curator Laurie Ann Farell, he just received the Abraaj Capital Art Prize 2010 of the Art Dubai for his work History of a Myth: The Small Dome of the Rock. Kader Attia is represented by the Christian Nagel gallery in Berlin.
Conzept: Sophie Eliot