A decade ago, the Sommerakademie im Zentrum Paul Klee introduced a landmark educational template that is now being reinvented by the reestablished Sommerakademie Paul Klee (SPK), beginning in August 2017.
The new Sommerakademie Paul Klee, under newly appointed artistic director Tirdad Zolghadr, is a fully funded program offering artists a departure from business as usual, without becoming an exhausting interruption in its own right. It caters to practitioners working at a postgraduate level, whether or not they have an official certificate saying so. Professional experience and intellectual appetite are the main requirements.
Over two summer sessions – August 2017 and August 2018 – eight fellows are granted access to the university’s outstanding infrastructure and technical support, and will proceed to collectively author a public event scheduled for April 2019. Although based on the idea of an academy, the aim is to transcend the blueprint of seminars and tutorials, and to focus on group research and cross-professional coalition building.
Back in the 2000s, there were few examples of summer retreats as proposed by the Zentrum Paul Klee. Our new program builds on this pioneering idea, while proposing a more complex blend of theory and practice, discourse and production. With its atypical timeline and exceptional infrastructure, the SPK combines collective inquiry with the perks of production-oriented residencies. The SPK is a fully funded program, covering room, travel and visa expenses. This in close partnership with international art institutions such as KW Institute for Contemporary Art Berlin.
Both in terms of a concrete curatorial theme (see below) and a fundamental working premise, the SPK seeks to account for the consequences of Contemporary Art. It traces the impact artists effectively have on the world around them, and works towards possibilities of reclaiming and steering that leverage. As such, it asks how the traction of Contemporary Art, as is, can be used to maximum effect, here and now.
Realty is the name of the first thematic building block, and a framework for the collectively authored event in Spring 2019. It focuses on the role of Contemporary Art in recent histories of urban development and gentrification. The latter is a stark and grisly example of art’s leverage today, and finding a productive response to gentrification has evolved into something of a holy grail within the field internationally. In order to bypass the melancholia, and avoid theorizing our failures yet again, our references must go beyond the usual scope of Euro-American art and academia. To what extent can we speak of a planetary development? If the term “gentrification” implies a multiplicity of often underestimated factors, what does this mean for possible rules of engagement? In order to address these and other questions, Realty will need to take stock of legal implications as well as artist initiatives, urban regeneration policies, chronospatial mythologies, art and/as architecture, and more.
The Summer 2017 program will also include contributors speaking to broader possibilities of artists reclaiming their professional future and working conditions, including Tashy Endres, Dieter Lesage, Suhail Malik and Lise Soskolne (W.A.G.E.).
The 2019 event will provide the point of departure for the subsequent SPK cycle (2019–21), featuring new fellows and a new curator. Its actual format may range from the realistic to the preposterous; either way, the hope is to transcend the status of self-critical polemic, and work towards a model worth replicating.
→ state-of-the-art print workshops
→ wood, plastics, metal, and textile facilities
→ high-tech sound studio
→ audiovisual media lab for film, video, and photography
→ conservation and restoration facilities
→ specialized libraries
→ contacts to conservation and restoration facilities
Three sessions on-site:→ August 5–25, 2017
→ August 4–24, 2018
→ April 2019→ Application ended on February 18, 2017
→ Travel, visa expenses, room and board fully covered.
→ A collective production budget is also secured.
→ Minimal commitment required is 7–8 weeks on-site, over a total of 20 months (Summer 2017 – Spring 2019).
→ From the very outset, SPK Fellows are encouraged to assume co-curatorial responsibility, and co-devise the program.
→ Additional visits, involving workshops with Bern MFA students, are under discussion. The scope of these workshops is to be determined with the SPK Fellows.
→ Between the sessions on-site, the SPK will facilitate a continuity of the working process via various online platforms.
→ Alumni of the Sommerakademie im Zentrum Paul Klee strongly encouraged to apply.