A Performance Series

Critical Writing

30 DAYS – A PARTICIPATORY PROJECT BY MEANS OF ‘IMPERSONAL’ OBSERVATION

Urban Space, 4 June 2008, KiM – Brunnen Strasse 10/ Mitte (c) Andreas Bastiansen. Courtesy Wooloo Productions

They are two anonymous North American cartographers whose intention is to map the artistic and cultural landscape of Berlin. For 30 days, these artists are collecting personal opinions from gallerists, directors of art institutions or just art goers like those who pass by the Wooloo-organized open-art-event. They plan to display the hot-spots of Berlin’s art scene, according to public opinion, by (photo)graphic means.

Cartographer 1 and 2 started their research at the „Museumsinsel“ in the middle of May, digging for some art, finding CFA: Contemporary Fine Arts – a gallery whose name could be programmatic for the whole enterprise. The two nameless persons who’ve never been in Berlin before are dressed up like tourists, rather than middle-class gallery goers and – uniformed as they are – pretend to be unsophisticated passers-by. They are inquisitive about Berlin’s artspaces, it’s hot venues, the different types of exhibiting-models, and how Berlin’s art world professionals behave in relation to apparently external visitors. Their aim is to figure out how accessible the art community could be for those who are not a constitutive part of it.

For this purpose Berlin works as a pilot-project for the two Americans. On one hand, they collect information from their contact with experts, but they also assemble their material by meeting the art audience personally – both locals as well as visitors to Berlin. During the official meeting at the New Life Shop on 4th June, the two artists showed up in their everyday uniform to ask spectators for their personal recommendations. As well as filling in a form with contact details, they invited people to leave a mark on a city map of Berlin, suggesting sites for further exploration. The cartographers will visit these sites over the next few days, until the project ends on 15th May, at the same time as the festival closes.

By using the experience they gained from people – based in Berlin or visiting the city – and the artistic landscape, which they have illustrated in a Google-Map, the cartographers intend to create a social network which connects the places they’ve been to with the people they’ve met. They want to minimize the competition felt between galleries in favour of a more easy-going, community-based approach to the ways that art and spaces intresect in Berlin. You could understand the projects’ aim as the creation of an open space and fair play for art(ists) in the city.

But if the map appears objective, it has still been shaped by subjective recommendations, and filtered by the personal perception of the artists. Can this investigation still be an „impersonal“ observation?

The project does not only record what these two external people have found out by grasping thoughts about Berlin’s art scene. The artists also adopt the role of a transmitter: they collect information and point it outwards via a system which draws a symbolic line into physical space. The result is an immaterial „landscape“, in fact a recording of a 30-day-sequence, which is created by those who produce art as well as those who consume it, and transferred by these two artists, according to their individual preferences.

They create a model which sums up the status quo of Berlin’s art world, although in a very subjective way. To gain information from a system at the same time as observing it might not be as democratic as it is supposed to be – just like the self-referential art scene in Berlin.

The results of 30 Days’ research are listed in an online database and marked as a check-mark in an „all over the world“, well known display-format, namely Google-Maps. The venues that the artists have found are also documented through digital photgraphs and exhibited on Wooloo.org, which is an online platform for ongoing participatory art projects.

But in the end, the project constitutes an abstract corpus that the two anonymous Americans bear out from a fluctuating system. Conscious as they are of their public anonymity, their disembodied expertise is only present as a conglomerate of pictures shown at Wooloo.org – as traces of a happening that exists for the duration of the New Life Berlin festival. Apart from the live event on June 4th where people had to label venues on a physical map, the “30-days” project will only truly exist digitally.

This kind of display as well as this (con)temporary art and it’s short term validity seems to be like Berlin’s fashionable art world – moving and changing in any concern. Nevertheless – it is fortunate that the cartographers harvest this empirically captured information about the current state of Berlin’s artistic landscape: it might not be beneficial for Berlin’s art scene, which exists as a self-preserving system, but it will be an essential archive for future academic study.

Christina Irrgang

Christina Irrgang is the Open Dialogues: New Life Berlin Associate and studies Theory of Art and Aesthetics at the State University of Media, Arts and Design in Karlsruhe/G and works as a freelance art critic. Contact: irrgang@iwprojekte.de www.iwprojekte.de

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THE NEW LIFE BERLIN FESTIVAL: A POINT OF VIEW

The culturally engaged individual walks around Berlin with her hands outstretched, wanting art, seeking participation and demanding service. And she will receive what she asks for, either in the grand buildings and parks housing the fifth Berlin Biennale or in the soon to be demolished office blocks, out of the way apartments and open air spaces hosting New Life Berlin.

But confusion and combustion occurs when actions in the name of art are thrust upon the individual without her asking. New Life Berlin, a city wide festival branded with the notion of ‘participation’ aims to explore cultural mobility, and presents art to those both concerned with the contemporary arts and those who would never think to ask. It is here at the juncture of engagement and production – reached through varying forms of involvement with the public – that questions around receivership arise.

Amongst the projects hosted by New Life Berlin, there are traditional models of receivership offered by Nathan Peters’ Eminent Domain installation, Arts and Conversation curated salons with practicing artists, and Marisa Olsen’s live TV performance Assisted Living to name just a few. The roles of artists and visitor are clearly defined; the artist creates and the public appreciate. While it is true that there are participants in the production of the projects, such as the case for Franck Leibovici’s Powell Opera, ultimately they become part of the artist machine churning out a spectacle for the spectators.

Other artists thrust their work upon the public, uninvited. Flash Job Campaign, headed by artist Per Traasdahl uses artists as ‘catalysts’ to inspire youths in disadvantaged neighbourhoods through 3 hour work placements, ‘flash-jobs’. With one unsteady foot in social work and the other in art work, these small interventions disrupt the established understanding of the role of an art producer and willing receiver. Similarly, 30 Day of New Life Berlin, presented by two anonymous artists, has begun mapping spaces of cultural interest through information gathered from the festival’s participants, but more interestingly though the interrogation of the proprietors and residents of various cultural establishments. Ask a little and ye shall receive a lot.

There is a danger however, that projects like Traasdahl’s Flash Job and Barbara Rosenthal’s Existential Interact where she approaches passers-by and gives an impromptu performance and small tokens, is perhaps blinded by a mis-placed belief that art is ‘good for us’. It is exciting and progressive to reshuffle the rigid modes of artistic production and receivership, however it is potentially offensive and presumptuous to force certain art projects upon the unsuspecting public, under the guise of positive benevolent actions.

New Life Berlin is a dynamic festival, bringing together and testing multiple approaches to participating, interacting and receiving. It is a site for experimentation but we must address the risks involved when dealing with such issues. At least one participant in the works discussed above has removed themselves from the project and we know little about the reactions of the public on the receiving end. An important but seemingly absent project at New Life Berlin is a survey of its audiences’ interpretations, attitudes and criticisms of the festival, gathered from those who ask and receive, and those who don’t ask but still receive.

By Claire Louise Staunton

Claire Louise Staunton is a writer and practicing curator currently based in London with particular interest in sonic and performance interventions www.inheritanceprojects.org

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SO WHERE IS THE ART IN BERLIN? JUST POINT ME IN THE DIRECTION…

SO WHERE IS THE ART IN BERLIN? JUST POINT ME IN THE DIRECTION…

’30 Days’ is a project by two anonymous North American cartographers in the New Life Berlin Festival who are on a mission to map the artistic and cultural landscape of Berlin by simply asking the local art enthusiasts, “where is the art in Berlin?”

During the 30 days of 1 May to 15 June Mr. and Mr. Anonymous will visit and experience art in Berlin for the first time. They will collect and link art in the places they happen to stumble-upon or are directed to by strangers on the street, tourists or fellow artists to the New Life Berlin festival and relay their findings employing a unique mapping system in conjunction with a Google-map (MAP 1), a physical map (MAP 2), and photographic images. What results is the 30 days ‘mission impossible’; a 30-day scavenger hunt for art around Berlin with no predetermined route, navigating their way through Berlin by relying on local recommendation and discovery.

This process of mapping, or cartography, has a long history dating from about 2300 B.C. Mr. and Mr. Anonymous have this history in mind and are using proven mapping methods , employing a sophisticated means to illustrate the accessibility of the art community in Berlin. I am unsure how scientific Mr. and Mr. Anonymous are about the actual mapping, but the concept is undeniably appealing. Moreover, there is a definite new development in the way they are mapping the art of the city. Within these developments, they rely on trusted methods, and like any great expedition they are depending on local people ‘in the know’ to foster this map. In so doing, they are exploiting ‘word-of mouth’ and making the most of Berlin’s artistic network and associations.

Mr. and Mr. Anonymous made their first appearance at a public network meeting in the New Life Shop on June 4th. It was a casual gathering of artists and writers who were interested in the concept of mapping the artistic culture in Berlin. This event gave Mr. Mr. Anonymous the opportunity to introduce their project whilst remaining individually unnamed. It also gave the public an opportunity to participate in mapping the 30 days project. At the meeting, Mr. and Mr. Anonymous asked everyone to mark on a large map of Berlin where art can be found. This collection of dots started the process of drawing MAP 2 and would lead Mr. and Mr. Anonymous to some suitable Berlin art destinations. I was intending to contribute to MAP 2 by marking where I thought art was to be found in the German capital, but never did. I was stumped from the get-go. Firstly, what is the definition of art? Art is not an object, a place or a space. It’s a philosophy, is it not? And secondly, all the notable museums and galleries were already taken, and there were lots of dots covering the areas I knew. Eventually, I figured a tourist like myself had little to contribute.

With a population of 3.4 million in its city limits, Berlin has a young, thriving artistic community and is growing rapidly. Artists flock here from everywhere; it’s somewhere artists can live cheaply and can find great studio space with relative ease. But how approachable are the arts without having specialist information or an artist-friend as tour guide? Mr. and Mr. Anonymous are attempting to find out by identifying all the communities of cultural expression that form the layers of Berlin’s art. They have immersed themselves in Berlin’s artistic realm. They’ve seen a lot of art spaces and met a lot of the people who make those places special. In this sense, 30 Days is a project about overcoming barriers of language and knowledge in order to gain access an art and culture within a large city area. It will be interesting to see if the documentation reveals what the 30 days perceptions of art in Berlin are. The duo have set themselves no small task in trying to articulate what art represents, where art could exist, and survey a multicultural artistic community by just being here for 30 days. A cartographical approach to such questions is unique and very welcome.

The 30 days maps are online at http://www.wooloo.org/30days/

Carali McCall

Carali McCall is an artist living in London.
caralimccall@gmail.com www.art-yo.com

Please only reproduce this text with permission from the author and Open Dialogues. opendialogues@gmail.com


30 DAYS OF NEW LIFE BERLIN

Two male cartographers who wish to remain anonymous have arrived from the USA to participate in The New Life Berlin Festival. As the title of their work suggests, the cartographers, who like to be known as A and B are here for 30 days. Their purpose is to carry out an urban exploration to map the arts and culture of the city.

Any visitor to Berlin cannot help but be struck by the cranes that silhouette the horizon. Germany’s capital is a building site, in which galleries and alternative spaces have flourished, even more since the Wall came down. A and B are aware of this shifting landscape. Whilst cartographers of the past sought to conquer the globe, these cultural nomads are using travel, observation, questioning and report-writing strategies to plot the galleries of Berlin. They work with performance, participatory actions and interventions to gather information, using spatial and cognitive decision making and engaging in dialogue with those they come into contact with.

On a scorching hot day I found myself shadowing cartographers A and B while they mapped a number of galleries punctuating the area. The day began at Galerie Schuster, Heidestrasse 46, next door to The Haunch of Venison Gallery and not far from The Hamburger Bahnhof Gallery of Contemporary Art. Cartographers A and B were wearing t-shirts and shorts, their American accents and strolling demeanor creating a persona of visitor or tourist.

The cartographers’ game-plan for 30 Days of New Life Berlin includes covert attention to the spatial and curatorial qualities of each gallery they map. They photograph the hanging of work and the architectural construction of the gallery, and can be seen surveying ceilings and the hidden surfaces and structures of art works. Attention is paid to lighting: I was surprised to be told that many of the city’s galleries use strip-lighting. Each gallery is evaluated for it’s openness to the cartographer’s questions and visitor information. A and B variously adopt roles as performer, detective, evaluator, researcher, and distributor of information.

We continued to Infernoesque Projektraum, situated in an industrial building at Heidestrasse 46-52, and then on to Zern, a gallery where Andreas Gefeller’s show Supervisions investigates the layering of the unnoticed inner workings of buildings and urban landscapes, photographed from above. Then, nearby, a cobbled walkway and a row of six inter-connected, converted warehouses: Hallen am Wasser (“Halls on the Water”), a complex of galleries whose exteriors are cloaked in a grey fabric facade, which houses painting, sculpture and installations. As A and B continued their rituals of observing the spatial and curatorial qualities of each gallery, I felt a heightened engagement with my surroundings. As we returned to the massive Armadillo like glass shell of Hauptbahnhof, Berlin’s Central Station made up of 9,000 interwoven sections, I was acutely aware of having been both participant and spectator in this work.

A and B engaged in another mapping strategy later that day, giving what they said was a performance involving the audience and participants of New Life Berlin Festival at The New Life Berlin Shop in Choriner Strasse. Participants were asked to highlight their favourite cultural locations on a large walled map of Berlin. As they made their marks the purpose of the paper map was altered; from a tool for mapping routes from one place to another, it became an interactive, layered alternative urban and cultural narrative.

The research outcomes accumulated by A and B can be seen on the Wooloo website http://www.wooloo.org/30days and includes three links leading to images, gallery listings and a Google locator map. Its topography can be seen as setting up interconnections between different gallery locations, looking beyond the surface, as if interrogating the gallery substratum of the city. Beyond this, the 30 Days link gauges the ease of cultural integration for the ‘outsider’ who might be a tourist, foreigner or stranger. These strategies raise an awareness of the limitations of cultural language,and question the notion of truth and the hierarchy of art speak,- the self-serving industry chatter that conforms to a system not made clear to outsiders.

The cartographers’ construction of social and cultural maps creates an alternative dialogue and narrative, permitting visitors to the website (and Berlin) to position themselves both as outsiders looking in (and insiders looking out). But is the listing of gallery information and thumbnail images enough to actively engage an online audience? My own live participation enabled an entry point that most other visitors to the 30 Days of New Life Berlin could not have. At the same time, this online information invites its audience to undertake their own mapping and exploration of the galleries in Berlin, and has the potential to radically alter online cultural and social mapping.

Ann Rapstoff

Ann Rapstoff creates performances, interventions and events. She is co-curator of ArtWash. www.annrapstoff.co.uk, www.artwash.co.uk.

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NEW LIFE, NEW MAP, IMPRESSIONS FROM A NEW NATIVE

As the New Life Berlin Festival is now at a close, one of the lasting impressions is the way that my city (yes, being a 4-year resident, I now lay claim!) has been used by participant artists, some of whom have never seen Berlin before, as a platform for their work. New Life Berlin is most certainly situated here and in no other city; almost every project is grounded in a social, physical, political or historical aspect of Berlin. For this reason, this city was subject to the projections placed on it by visitors and residents. In creating and using maps of Berlin as the basis of many of the projects, we did indeed create a new Berlin map built of impressions, memories, fantasies, dreams, and fragments.

Some artists in New Life Berlin chose to physically engage with the Berlin streets. Gordon Sasaki’s ‘Movement,’ shown as part of Urban Space screenings, focused his camera only on the Berlin topography under his feet. And Marie Christine Katz (‘Road Kills and Other Casualties’ also of Urban Space) lay down in the street, waiting to see how Berliners’ reaction to her would reflect their experience of Berlin, how her unlikely act would be situated in this city. How would Berliners react differently to passersby’s in New York, or elsewhere? How would their reaction be situated in Berlin?

‘30 days of New Life Berlin’ looked at Berlin as a set of points of artistic attractions, hyper-linking points on an online map to descriptive writing based on a physical visit. The 30 days project called to mind that “art” might be in every cobblestone of a city, or, depending on your perspective, only housed in galleries. But the map was made by cartographers who came to Berlin from elsewhere—in other words, mapped by explorers and not natives—and so what we see is a map not fully integrated into the experience of living here in Berlin. In some sense, the foreignness of the 30 days cartographers gave a more objective view of what Berlin has to offer: a native’s sense of art in his/her own city may change vastly from year to year. A visitor, on the other hand, might not venture much further than the Auguststrasse or Brunnenstrasse gallery district, and never find the dilapidated building sites, the graffiti murals and other pieces of Berlin art that are off the beaten track—and likely to soon be destroyed.

Per Traasdahl’s ‘Flash Job Campaign’ was also tied directly to the Berlin map. On the first day, participant “Catalysts” were given a physical section of the map of the Neukölln district of Berlin. Like the 30 Days cartographers, Flash Job Campaign catalysts pounded the streets of the very piece of map they held in their hand, but with the mission of finding one time or ‘flash’ jobs for teenagers. Going into the project rather blindly, many participants and onlookers wondered what would be the real life result of physically walking those green and blue street lines of the map? Who would the catalysts encounter and how would they communicate with – in some cases- no German language skills? Despite the difficulties of “dropping” catalysts into the mix of Berlin, several ‘flash job’ matches were made between teenagers and employers. Two of these jobs, however, were outside the borders of Neukölln. But the magical aspect of the project was that the borders of Flash Job Campaign were more fluid than the “rules of the game,” rules that were initially delineated not only in terms of the map, but in terms of how catalysts had to improvise to make the jobs happen. And by letting these rules soften, and improvisation move in, the catalysts learned that the process was the art. The final product, of making a match and fulfilling a flash job, was the icing on the cake. As one of the participants said, “it wasn’t until I stopped concentrating on the word “job” that I actually found one.” It wasn’t until they let the map fly away that they saw what lay within it.

Ali&Cia’s “Eat the Wall” likewise wrestled with the physical borders of Berlin—though in this case, the choice of a wall reminds us of a relic that nevertheless still makes its mark. Using food as physical bricks, participants were invited to build a wall in between two rooms in the SCALA space on Friedrichstrasse. When visitors later arrived, we were forced to one side or the other based on our date of birth. Only by eating or dismantling the wall could we cross. Each room had a decidedly different energy—one was painted black and the lights were dimmed; in the other the walls were white and the light was almost oppressively bright. But we didn’t know the difference until some of us defected and came back to bring the news: “The other side … it’s much more communal, much more comfortable. Come over with me.” While the wall was an impressive architectural feat, and the process of eating it or taking the art away or ‘to-go’ was quite entertaining, I was struck with how Eat the Wall seemed to be the product of an outsider’s impression of Berlin. While the Berlin wall will be an idea permanently etched in collective memory, it lacks real meaning for those of us that live in Berlin today; those who cross freely from east to west on the U-bahn, and who see, in fact, that big development intends to take Berlin as a whole within the next ten years. The new digital O2 Loop billboard, for which a section of the “East Side Gallery” was dismantled, looms much higher than the wall ever did. Capitalism has indeed broken down borders.

What may have brought an experimental project like the New Life Berlin festival to Berlin is the fact that the Berlin Wall was here, and when it was dismantled it left a chaos and a lack of organized capitalism that made way for a multitude of experimental arts and performances spaces. This history is what explains the dilapidated “East Berlin” texture of the New Life shop itself, the fading signature Berlin posters of Nathan Peter’s ‘Eminent Domain’; the worn “beautiful ugly” that so many of us appreciate about this city. And just two blocks down from the New Life shop we see an empty lot which will apparently be turned into exclusive loft apartments. Its new developer advertises itself as “The Fine Art of Living—Moved by Diamona & Harwisch.”

I imagine that as artists we want somehow to hold on to the chaos of a freshly unified Berlin, because it gives us so much freedom. Yet, as the Art and Economics Group so clearly reminds us—we need someone to buy our art, we need festivals to raise our profile; we need people with money to recognize us. This is an endless struggle. We need the spaces- that are “not art” to be called art—something the 30 Days Cartographers make manifest- and for these spaces to stay bohemian, not simply turned into brand names and chain stores. Hopefully this “New Life Berlin” map that we have all created together will continue to hold in tender balance the imagined Berlin that brought us here in the first place.

Kathryn Fischer (aka Mad Kate) is a writer and performance artist currently making mischief in Berlin, Germany. www.alfabus.us

Please only reproduce this writing with permission from the author and Open Dialogues. opendialogues@gmail.com


WHEN IS AN ARTIST NOT AN ARTIST?

30 Days
Two anonymous cartographers
30 days prior to the closing of the New Life Berlin festival.

The two cartographers behind the 30 Days project casually make their way across a courtyard, between two flat roofed buildings and back towards the main road. Over the disused railway track opposite, they were told by the previous gallery’s assistant, a row of small art spaces inhabit the glass-fronted elevation of another vast converted industrial building. Shadowing them, I enjoy this sense of discovery and the unknown route ahead – a process invariably more interesting than much of the work on show.

Photographs and notes are taken upon entering the galleries, which are assessed according to a scale known only to the cartographers. Acting as anonymous practitioners, these cartographers aim to infiltrate and subvert Berlin’s local art networks and create, over thirty days, an alternative map of the city’s artistic landscape, which can then be used and added to by future visitors. Both cartographers originate from the USA, and through their position as relative outsiders, they also aim to connect organisations by pairing up the mapped spaces and encouraging them to collaborate on a future project. These pairs would not normally work together – perhaps because of preconceptions about each other’s work, different commercial agendas, or lack of inclination to direct resources towards small, experimental projects. The results of the cartographers’ activities are one Google map of locations and two collections of textual or image based information that exist online via Wooloo.org. The resulting institutional collaborations will be followed up by the cartographers at a later date.

The cartographers admit that their categorisation of the galleries is subjective, and explain that any map-maker’s cultural background influences the maps that they produce. Talking to these map makers, it is clear that they are highly educated art practitioners who have de-classified themselves as artists in favour of the title ‘cartographer’. However, they say they aim to tread lightly over their chosen terrain, creating altered perspectives and relations amongst its potential visitors or inhabitants, whilst maintaining a critical distance and leaving no trace of their presence. Referring to the project in cartographic terms is therefore problematic because, by nature, the traditional cartographer stamps their ground a little, forming a subjective overview of place that is open to misinterpretation or generalisation. Cartography produces space, defining identities through difference. The inhabitants of the landscape being mapped (in this case, artists/professionals/galleries) then locate themselves within these identities, by which they define the outsider. Therefore, if the 30 Days online site and maps are to gain the level of interest and visibility that their creators aim for, the cartographers have the potential to mark their influence on the identity and boundaries of the Berlin art scene.

Another subjective element of this project is the classification of artistic activity. When do we cease to define activity as artistic – when working artists lose physical proximity to each other? When they all go out for a coffee? Perhaps the cartographers are being knowingly playful with the elusive nature of the artistic act, but if so, this could be reflected more in their results. In fact, the map shows established galleries for the most part and a lack of artist-led initiatives, studio groups, temporary spaces, events or individual artists’ activities. This is probably because less formal additions would be harder to fix geographically, which would interfere with the easy use of the maps as guides.

But the maps’ status as guides is also in doubt. In order to dispel the fixedness of the cartographers’ definitions, it is crucial that the maps can be adjusted by future visitors. Therefore, the project’s priority must be to provide a model for visitor re-structructuring (by adapting the original results online or creating a new map), rather than to create a definitive guide. However, the maps need to be visually clear and accessible to enable visitors to contribute. Although one of these maps is available through Google search, most of the information is stored on Wooloo.org with no direct link from the homepage (though this may be out of the cartographers’ hands), and it is also unclear how the maps could be adapted. The mapped spaces are presented through an inviting visual display, yet remain separate and difficult to understand in relation to one another. Without clear links given between them, they are rendered isolated, cut off from the flow of movement in-between which defines them as destinations.

On a practical level, the artists claim that adopting the title of cartographer allows them more freedom to work within the networks they are navigating, which suggests the art institutions they visit may treat artists using ’non-art’ processes more suspiciously than their professional counterparts. Perhaps as artists have historically taken the institutional framework of their working environment as subject for analysis, they seem likely to have a more complex critical agenda, and as they don’t represent the views of a corporate employer, artists are allowed a more critical position than other professionals. The re-positioning of roles also denies any distinction between the artists’ work and that of other practitioners and professionals in whose fields they may be working; when acting as artists, the cartographic process may be seen as a tool in the realisation of an artistic idea, but when acting as cartographers, the emphasis shifts to the product of their activities – the map itself. This role play also enables potential audiences to engage with the maps outside of an artistic context, which, the cartographers assume, would only complicate the situation. By enforcing the cartographic status of the project, its members make sure that the map readers are simply reading maps, and not partaking in a work of art.

This cloaking of the artist has implications within the network of relations existing between artists, art institutions, audiences and publics. As the New Life Berlin festival has exemplified, many artists position themselves in diverse roles, employing processes traditionally associated with other areas of study or professional work. Shouldn’t the artist’s role be declared in order to promote contemporary art practice as multi-faceted and inter-disciplinary? In fact, New Life Berlin was structured to promote just this kind of interdisciplinarity, among its communities of artists and participants. Also, though the artists have masked the project’s status as a work of art, the project is dependent on the artistic context of this festival for its promotion and dissemination, and so 30 Days’ separation from the art world is only fleeting.

Perhaps then, alternatively, the cartographers’ choice not to be deemed artists within the festival’s publicity material offers a critique of some participatory and interactive projects, whose claims of shifting and merging the roles of the artist and audience are unfounded. In denying the role of the artist the cartographers suggest that, as artists, the distinctions will always remain.

For now the project stands on ambiguous ground. Much like the dried out areas of land that interrupt the sprawl of Berlin’s urban system, the maps’ function is unclear. They are available for use, yet the user has an uncertain amount of freedom within them and relies on mediation for access. When the festival ends, and the cartographers remove themselves from the physical location of Berlin, the map they are offering will show its full subversive potential.

Charlotte A. Morgan

Charlotte A. Morgan is an artist and writer currently co-developing and curating Transit Projects, a mobile project space based in Sheffield UK and online. charlotte.anne.morgan@googlemail.com

Please only reproduce this text with permission from the author and Open Dialogues. opendialogues@gmail.com