Art and culture can only be presented and communicated within a context; the local, social, political, and economic conditions of their production and presentation and the specific conditions of reception- and discourse must always be taken into account. At the same time, as a consequence, it can be observed a paradigm shift has taken place in cultural politics: no longer “culture for everyone”, but the articulation and representation of minority scenes and cultures with the goal of enhancing the opportunities for participation and action. An integral element of this cultural politic is an orientation towards active protagonists in artistic scenes and the search for and promotion of new, unknown potential.
Only a few public cultural institutions have understood the importance of this culmination and turned their attention towards these minority (which together form a “multitude”) milieus that define themselves via cultural, gender-based, and habitual patterns, and mainly find opportunities for articulation only in subcultural, liberated, and precarious contexts. The central issue here is the definition of an urban culture, a communal cultural work – oriented towards a local authority, a community, which divides its cultural forms into a large number subcategories – into public facilities. This urban culture must be articulated in public spaces (institutions, public facilities, galleries, etc.), which operate as mediators in order to access these pluralistic milieus.
In Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien, of which I have been the director since 2002, art communication is understood as a means of bridging a gap – as mediation, not reduced to a restricted identity, but resulting from the combination of local, transnational, international and cultural aspects. Art crosses all boundaries between the familiar and unknown, the established and innovative, effortlessness and strenuousness. It must oscillate, tackle new themes, make bold assumptions, create transparency, open new spaces.
Culture and art represent the desire to make an effort. With this effort, which entails hard work and standards, a civilized and universal potential unfolds. In this respect, art and culture are “elite” in so much as they enforce a claim – we want to participate, we want to act, we want to understand. This is not a demand made by the masses. It is expressed by a large number of minorities. Therefore art and culture do not reach everyone and do not strive to do so. They reach a multitude – those, who follow their desire to make an effort.
Stéphane Bauer (2007)