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City, country, Europe – how the art world grows together

Portofrei #2 Runde 2
How can we act together? | Illustration: © Bernd Struckmeyer

Art may not know any boundaries, but the art world certainly does. So how can curators become better networked – and make a stand for their shared values? This will be discussed by Simona Da Pozzo, Gottfried Hattinger and Hajnalka Somogyi – and you can join the debate! Leave us your views and questions: in the comments field on this page or on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #freepost.

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February 12th, 2019  |   Hajnalka Somogyi
Hajnalka Somogyi Photo (detail): Csaba Aknay / Orbital Strangers OFF-Biennale Budapest boycotts the Hungarian state-run art infrastructure, thus the project steers clear of public art spaces. This already places it outside a certain professional/art bubble; instead, our projects appear in public space, shops, cafés, industrial spaces, community centers etc., often also engaging with their context of presentation. The audience and the general media loves the adventure of exploring some hidden faces of the city, and this way the projects appear obviously less detached from everyday reality. 

Taking the notion of the filter bubble politically, I have two answers. 
  1. The near-full governmental control over the media puts us in a difficult situation when trying to reach wider audiences. In such media, the coverage is heavily one-sided: critical voices are mostly ignored, or they get aggressively denigrated as ‘communist’ or ‘gay propaganda’ (see Frida Kahlo!), which creates less than optimal conditions for interacting with those beyond one’s political comfort zone. Our projects have been mostly ignored so far by the official media-machine; we produce our own content to spread on social media. At the same time, we can’t rule out the possibility of some attack in the future, with the government and its media going on ever-wilder ideological rampage over an assumed international conspiracy against the country. 

    Voicing ideas in one’s own echo chamber is not to be undervalued

  2. In our view, voicing ideas in one’s own echo chamber is not to be undervalued. In a context of educated, independent-minded people leaving in flocks, and a depressingly powerful propaganda roaring up and down the land, one can feel somewhat discouraged and isolated with certain thoughts and sentiments. As long as a filter bubble can protect from despair and support one to carry on (which seems a prerequisite for seeing beyond), OFF is happy to help strengthening it.
February 7th, 2019  |   Simona Da Pozzo
Simona Da Pozzo Photo (detail): Emilia Castioni I process the ‘public space’ so as defined by the network “Non Riservato: places where individuals’ routines are at the mercy of the case and unpredictable encounters can generate dialogues between heterogeneous subjects. In the public space, relational artworks and collaborative approaches can disclose the thin margin between the individual and the “us”, as mentioned by Bernard Stiegler.

That’s why, in a political perspective, I look at “passers-by” as a target and an object of study, and at the “dialogue” as a tool and a goal. Via one to one relationship, I deal with the concept of belonging through some topics on which everyone can express their own point of view (despite any cultural background) and to contribute to a new collective vision. Intricate structures (as labyrinth, catalogues, and Chinese boxes) allow multilayer access to the artwork playing with people’s curiosity

In a political perspective, I look at the dialogue as a tool and a goal

For example, within my project Luminescenze (research realized in the frame of the Borderlight Collective collaboration), I map the places in which inhabitants would like to bring a different light in the nocturnal landscape of Milan. The project portraits citizens as activators of places, relations and resilience and at the same time it collects information outlining an alternative vision of the city by night. In this case, the involvement of the people has been overlaying a quantitative work, made using an online platform and social media, and a quality investigation, creating a series of collaborative mapping in the frame of convivial meetings in peripheral areas.  
February 5th, 2019  |   Gottfried Hattinger
Gottfried Hattinger Photo (detail): Julia Vogt About ten years ago I took up my work as artistic director of Festival der Regionen in Upper Austria. For the first time I faced the challenge to put up artistic festivals in small towns where nobody seemed to take an interest in contemporary art. I had to get out of the comfort zone, say goodbye to those cultural institutions that had functioned as a protective area and step out into the public space to expose myself and my artistic work to the comments of the general public.

From the very beginning I aimed at a light-footed balance of artistic work and social action within my work. Talking to people face to face far away from the usual experts talk, it was actually easier than I had thought to convey messages that can be grotesque and weird at times. In doing so, I always aimed at  making the locals join artistic processes without misusing them for my own needs.

We should try and be a bit less uptight and let our spirit dance instead

I soon realized that this would only be possible through personal, individual involvement rather than social media, emails or phone calls. Being an outspoken sceptic, I do not believe that art is making an impact on society as a whole. After all, in a microcosm of people who want to change the world ours are only low voices within a choir of social struggle. Still, these voices are important. Perhaps we should try and be a bit less uptight and let our spirit dance instead.

And when it comes to right-wing populist tendencies … I might give you my opinion next time. 
January 28th, 2019  |   Geraldine de Bastion
Geraldine de Bastion Photo (detail): Roger von Heereman / Konnektiv We live in the age of information overload and digitally induced short attention spans. Studies are showing correlations between fake news and viral hoaxes spread online, the deluge of new information that’s constantly pouring into social media and our short attention spans.

In addition, the filter bubble phenomenon results in opinion silos and lack of meaningful exchange of opinions between people of different interest groups on social media platforms. Creating meaningful and impactful engagement is a challenge of our digital age.

How do we reach those outside of our political comfort zone?

In the last episode of “Freepost” we debated how political artists should be in Europe today and the role of the artist in relation to political movements. In this episode, I am looking forward to learning about artistic intervention practices and strategies for socially and politically critical art to reach a wide public and create an impact. How do we reach those outside of our political comfort zone? What artistic tools exist, to pop ideological bubbles and enable contemporary art to reach of different political positions and offer opportunity for discussion and interaction? These will be the overarching topics of this debate.

You all reside in different countries in Europe, Hungary, Austria and Italy. As outlined in the previous “Freepost” debate, we are having this debate in light populist power gains across Europe, in particular in the countries you live in. I would like to begin our conversation with a focus on the local, the closest possible space for interaction in this globalized, increasingly digital and immaterial world – the cities and towns where you live and work in. What are your strategies and tools for interaction in with your local environment? Do you use the public space and how do you try and interact with those outside your filter bubble? 


Logo IGBK The current edition of our digital debate “Freepost” is being held in cooperation with the Internationale Gesellschaft der Bildenden Künste (IGBK). In November 2017, the IGBK organized the symposium “Fragile Affinities” together with the Akademie der Künste, Berlin. The topic of these “Freepost” is derived from the questions discussed there.



Simona Da Pozzo Photo (detail): Emilia Castioni Simona Da Pozzo is a performance and video artist living in Milan. Together with other artists, she works on various projects at her Vegapunk studio. Furthermore, since 2013 Simona Da Pozzo has been making her atelier available to other artists as part of the “Artist Hosting Artists (AHA)”, “Camouflage” and “AUBatVPK” programmes.

Gottfried Hattinger Photo (detail): Julia Vogt Gottfried Hattinger is a freelance curator and book designer who lives in Ottensheim near Linz. He studied at Linz Art School and from 1987 to 1991 was artistic director of the “ars electronica” festival at the Brucknerhaus in Linz. Gottfried Hattinger creates and designs festivals and exhibitions, primarily in the areas of performance and theatre, visual art, sound art and music, and old and new media.

Hajnalka Somogyi Photo (detail): Csaba Aknay / Orbital Strangers Hajnalka Somogyi is a curator of contemporary art. Since 2014 she has worked as director and co-curator of the OFF Biennale in Budapest, Hungary’s largest independent art project that was founded on Somogyi’s initiative. Among other things, Hajnalka Somogyi was an editor at artmagazin.hu and curator of the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art in Budapest.


Geraldine de Bastion Photo (detail): Roger von Heereman / Konnektiv Geraldine de Bastion is a political scientist who advices public institutions, NGOs and business enterprises on the use of digital technologies. Her expertise is valued by internet activists and bloggers around the world. She is a member of Digitale Gesellschaft e.V., which fights for basic rights and consumer protection in the digital domain. Each year she is a sought-after curator and presenter at the international internet conference re:publica.
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