New research project funded by Bildende Kunst – Recherchestipendium + Onassis Tailor-made Fellowship

This Autumn & Winter 2022-2023 I have been / will be conducting a new research project which  entangles fields of #activism, #cultural policy, #comparative art history and #curating (observed from the definition of “curating as a redistribution of power”), and relates to a question/desire that guides my practice: how can the curatorial revert back to the local scene? The research will be performed in two countries, Germany & Greece, supported by two research grants by Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa, Berlin (Bildende Kunst – Recherchestipendium), and Onassis Foundation (Onassis AiR Tailor-made Fellowship).

This research topic connects with my background in art history: investigating the collective context in which art is produced and mediated, with a special focus on self-organization, cooperative historie(s), and biographical research. 
The first time I got in touch with the topic of “The dialog process in Berlin” was in 2014, alongside the production of an exhibition & events program at Galerie Wedding organized by Berlinerpool: visual archive of Berlin-based artists. Together with Andrzej Raszyk we interviewed 15 self-organized advocacy groups in Berlin building a dialogue with policy making and funding system. AbBA, Allianz bedrohter Berliner AtelierhäuserKGB – Kommunale Galerien BerlinKoalition der Freien SzeneInitiative Stadt NeudenkenHaben und BrauchenNetzwerk freier Berliner Projekträume und -initiativenLAFT – Landesverband freie darstellende Künste BerlinRat für die KünsteInterflugsNGBK – Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende KunstNBK – Neuer Berliner KunstvereinIGBK – Internationale Gesellschaft Bildender KünstlerBBK – berufsverband bildender künstler berlinDeutscher KünstlerbundVBK – Verein Berliner Künstler.

Pflegeanweisungen – The art of living together. A botanical exhibition on the coevolution processes between a growing community of representative cultural organisms in Berlin, the conditions of the soil where contemporary art is produced and presented, and (eco) systems of care.
Press release here

I envision as outcome to develop a multimedia publication which will work as an open source model and as an artifact, offering a guideline of methodological aspects to implement in any European art scene the Berliner City Tax model to support independent art production locally.
The multimedia editorial format with performative possibilities resulting from a collective research process resembles previous projects I did for the XIII Havana Biennial (a 3-volume monograph on collaborative and contextual art in Cuba in the last decade) and connects with a methodology that separates itself from the curatorship of visual arts favoring a dramaturgical, situated approach.

If you were on an island… LASA: 10 Years of contextual art in Cuba
EAN : 9782956778233 ; ISBN : 978-2-9567782-3-3
Published by LASA: Laboratorio Artístico de San Agustín, Cuba, 2019. Coordinated by Aurélie Sampeur. Edited by Paz Ponce.

Part of the project: LASA 10 CARNAVAL, produced by LASA and conceptualized by Candelario, Aurélie Sampeur, Club Real (Marianne Ramsay-Sonneck, Paz Ponce, Georg Reinhardt) and Jana Pacheco, with the participation of LASA team and residents of San Agustín, Cuba.
Presented at Wilfredo Lam Contemporary Arts Center  and San Agustín.
In the frame of 13 Havana Biennial

Description of research topic: Berlin

10 Jahre Dialogprozess
Gefördert durch Bildende Kunst – Recherchestipendium (Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa) / Bekanntmachung hier

Im 2022 werden 10 Jahre des langjährigen Dialogprozesses zw. freien & institutionellen Akteuren der zeitgenössischen Kunstszene und dem Berliner Senat: die Debatte um die City Tax. Diese kulturpolitische Diskussion basiert auf der Überzeugung, dass: “Die Förderung des Kunstschaffens ist genauso wichtig wie die Förderung der Präsentation von Kunst”. An diesem Dialogprozess waren nicht nur unabhängige (Koalition der Freien Szene, Haben und Brauchen, BBK) und institutionelle Kunstvermittler und der Kultursenat beteiligt, sondern auch andere stadt-, sozial- und kulturpolitisch aktive Gruppen, Initiativen und Institutionen. Diese gemeinsame Bemühung gipfelte in der Schaffung einer neuen Fördersäule, der “Spartenoffenen Förderung”, die heute einen Teil der Anforderungen des Sektors abdeckt.

Als Ergebnis meines neuen Forschungsprojekts möchte ich eine Publikation entwickeln, die als Open- Source-Modell und als Artefakt fungiert und einen Leitfaden mit methodischen Aspekten für die Umsetzung des Berliner City Tax-Modells in jeder europäischen Kunstszene bietet, um die unabhängige Kunstproduktion vor Ort zu unterstützen.

Die Interviews werden transkribiert, Versammlungsmodelle und die Methodik der Arbeitsgruppen werden skizziert, ein Glossar der rechtlichen Begriffe wird als Anhang beigefügt.
Zweites Kapitel: Mein Berliner Fallstudie wird die Grundlage für einen Dialog mit Kulturschaffenden der unabhängigen Kunstszene in Athen bilden, einem Kontext, den ich seit einem Jahr erforsche. Hier sind 90 % der öffentlichen Kulturförderung für die Archäologie vorgesehen, so dass zu wenig Raum für das kulturelle Schaffen und das zeitgenössische künstlerische Schaffen bleibt. Dieses Kapitel wird von der Onassis-Stiftung (Dezember 2022 – Februar 2023) als Empfänger des maßgeschneiderten Forschungsstipendiums für Community Fellows (ich bin einer) finanziert.

Description of research topic: Athens

Paz Ponce: Dialogue process Berlin > Athens
Supported by Onassis AiR Tailor-made Fellowship (Onassis Foundation)

“Art comes from making art”. 
“Supporting the creation of art is just as important as supporting the presentation of art”. 
“The working and living conditions of artists are closely tied to developments in city policy”. 

These 3 basic convictions sparked the “City Tax debate” in Berlin over the last decade: an open cultural policy dialogue on the situation and future of the production and mediation of contemporary art in Berlin, between independent & institutional actors of the contemporary art scene and the Berlin Senate (*). This cultural-political discussion involved also other groups, initiatives and institutions active in urban, social and cultural policy with an eye toward concepts and realities of work, productivity, and the commons. This joint effort culminated in the creation of a new funding pillar, the “Spartenoffene Förderung” (Multi-sector funding), which today covers part of the sector’s needs. 

I am taking the Berlin City Tax Debate as a case study to perform an analogous research in Athens, seeking for independent & institutional actors to join a dialogue on culture policy and a preliminary study on the potential implementation of European Tourist Tax (City Tax) to support the local art sector. While no magic formula applies to different contexts in the same way; while histories, biographies, spaces, needs, resources, desires and political wills differ from place to place, I am interested in the transfer of knowledge between two contexts that are constantly prototyping contingent solutions to combat similar pan-urban phenomena, protecting the city against total economic exploitation, and claiming for a fundamental cultural-political reorientation in the arts sector for long. What forms of imagination can we produce beyond survival to collectively thrive? I wonder. 

This new research project entangles fields of activism, culture policy, comparative art history and curating (observed from the definition of “curating as a redistribution of power”), and relates to a question/desire that guides my practice: how can the curatorial revert back to the local scene? 

[*] Information on the Berlin City Tax Debate is based on the papers produced by Haben und Brauchen, bbk Berlin, Koalition der Freie Szene. 

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