Studio Grant

Decolonizing 68

The semiannually awarded District Studio Grant 2018, I (February to July 2018) is tendered on a project-specific basis: We are seeking artists or artist collectives who want to engage with the student movement of the 1960s in Germany from decolonial and feminist perspectives. Here, the focus is on the visualization of the role of black students and students of color in the Federal Republic at the time, as well as the deconstruction of the white narration of this constitutive moment for the Federal Republic today.

As 2018 marks the fiftieth anniversary of 1968, we would like to take this opportunity to question the production of history and to (re)tell the movements of that time from the perspectives of its anti-colonial, diasporic-feminist and black organizations. We would like to actively tackle the ongoing marginalization of this/these story/ies and their resistances and political demands within the constantly reproduced narrations of ’68’ with the co-production of artistic research and public debate under the working title Decolonize 68, borne of the intersectional alliance of the project Art of the Revolt. The Revolt of Art in the Frankfurt Student House and the Art Spaces District Berlin, Arsenal Gallery Poznan and alpha nova & galerie futura.

Colonialism and neo-colonialism, international solidarity, anti-racism, migration, flight and asylum were significant topics in the 1960s. German black and PoC students, and in particular students from Africa, Asia and Latin America who studied at Western German universities in the early 1960s were highly politicized by the civil rights movement in the US, the liberation movements, the process of decolonization or the newly acquired state independence of their countries. They were the first to mobilize protests against state violence and injustice beyond Europe and North America. Organized in student associations and groups such as the African Student Union, they discussed in working groups and in the SDS (Sozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund), aroused political awareness for structural forms of racism, one-sided reporting as well as the continuation of colonial power structures in the global South and acted as multipliers of country-specific solidarity in Germany. They decisively shaped the form and content of the early phases of protest and resistance movements in the FRG. They provided information, called for protest and demonstrated in a more determined and more aggressive manner than their white comrades. Appropriate actions and campaigns, such as the demonstrations against the visit of the Congolese prime minister Moïse Tshombe (1964), the protests against the film Africa Addio (1966) or against awarding the peace prize of the German Book Trade to the Senegalese president and poet Léopold Sédar Senghor (1968) were initiated by the African, Latin-American Student Alliance as well as activists like Adekunle Ajala (chairman of the African Student Alliance at that time) and were a practical and media-effective criticism of state policy. The role of international, diasporic, PoC and black students in the transnational, intersectional (and transhistorical) linking of the political movements of the 1960s is of particular relevance here and can open up an important perspective for today.

In search of such, the call is aimed at artists who want to realize a project on forgotten practices of resistance that are often no longer visible in the dominant historiography, forms of agency and self-empowerment. Within the project, two artistic formats are expected to be developed, of which Format I (e.g. workshop, discussion, performance) can open the process of research and make it visible as part of the projects Art of the Revolt. The Revolt of Art in Offenes Haus der Kulturen in Frankfurt / Main and Workshops of Revolution in the Arsenal Gallery Poznan, as well as at District in Berlin. Format II will be realized towards the end of the studio grant in cooperation with alpha nova & galerie futura in Berlin and will present the results of the research. (As part of the project in Frankfurt, the future studio grant holder can be provided with a material collection of discourses about topics like (neo)colonialism, anti/racism, international solidarity in the context of student initiatives that can be used to realize the project.)

The studio grant is aimed at female identified, non-binary and trans* artists and is part of our engagement in building a solidary artistic community. Therefore, the program offers an open forum for the reflection, advancement, and interconnection of artistic practices through transdisciplinary studio talks and the involvement of the grant artists in the ongoing program.

Awarded by a diverse jury, the grant comprises the free use of District’s 15 sqm “satellite” studio on the Malzfabrik area from 1 February to 31 July 2018 and a budget of 3,500 euros, divided into 2,000 euros fee and 1,500 euros production costs. Furthermore, the grant artist or collective will be actively supported by the District team in the form of curatorial accompaniment as well as organizational implementation and communication of the project. The costs for travel and accommodation in Frankfurt and Poznan will be covered by the local project partners. Unfortunately, the costs for travel and accommodation in Berlin cannot be covered.

Since 2009, District has realized a multifaceted program with the aim of creating an ongoing dialogue between artistic, curatorial, investigative and educational practices. With a focus on contextualizing artistic practice in urban space, District develops collaborative and research-oriented formats for art in the expanded field. Exploring different kinds of proximity and ways of dissolving boundaries, as well as emancipatory moments of amicability, District creates occasions for opening up the present towards diverse perspectives and types of knowledge by means of art. Grounded in feminist, queer and decolonial approaches, District explores the curatorial as a performative as much as analytic practice and probes new kinds of community.

Period of realization
February 2018: Artist Talk at District Berlin
April – May 2018: Format I at Offenes Haus der Kulturen Frankfurt / Main, Arsenal Gallery Poznan and District
July 2018: Format II at District

The studio grant holder was selected by a diverse jury:
Silvy Chakkalakal (Junior professor European ethnology / cultural anthropology and gender studies HU Berlin)
Katharina Oguntoye (author, historian, activist and poet)
Shanti Suki Osman (musician, researcher and educator, District Studio Grant artist 2017, II)
Suza Husse (Artistic director District)
Andrea C. Keppler (curator District Studio Grant Programme, co-curator Kunst der Revolte // Revolte der Kunst, Studierendenhaus Frankfurt)