You are invited to join us in a collective boycott of the ‘Kunsthalle Berlin,’ a boycott that coincides with the inauguration of the Kunsthalle at Flughafen Tempelhof on 28 January 2022.
Rather than being a considered initiative that is in the interests of the arts and cultural community of Berlin at large (as you might expect from an institution wielding the name, ‘Kunsthalle Berlin’), the new ‘Kunsthalle’ can best be described as a cynical, neoliberal vehicle that will primarily serve to increase the stature and private wealth of all those associated with it. While Smerling may have the warm support of Vladimir Putin, Armin Laschet, Anselm Kiefer, Markus Lüpertz and Lars Windhorst—(and, perhaps most disappointingly, of prominent politicians)—he does not have the support of Berlin’s artists and cultural workers at large. In joining this boycott, we wish to send a clear message:
This ‘Kunsthalle' is not what Berlin artists need.
Neither is it what most Berlin artists want.
Either we stand by and watch as our cultural landscape is hollowed out by the likes of Smerling and his (very white, very male) friends. Or we come together and voice collective opposition to this cynical operation (and others like it—such as the 'Boros goes to Berghain’ fiasco).
If you have not been following the conversation around the ‘Kunsthalle Berlin,’ please refer to the article below by Niklas Maak. Maak’s article articulates multiple reasons why one might choose to keep a healthy distance from the ‘Kunsthalle Berlin.’ For those who do not read German, the article by Quynh Tran is helpful in providing some of the backstory:
Editors at the FAZ must have understood the inflammatory potential of Niklas Maak’s article. It is parked behind a paywall. Fortunately, everybody knows somebody who has access to the FAZ.
Many live precariously in the art community. It can be intimidating to alienate figures like Smerling, Kiefer and Lüpertz. But are we ready to stand by and watch (or actively participate) as our creative landscape is privatised by the likes of Smerling, under the generous patronage of shady figures like Putin, Windhorst and Schröder, with the help of taxpayers’ money?
WHAT DOES THE BOYCOTT INVOLVE?
The purpose of a boycott is to seek to alter a situation that one considers unacceptable. In this particular case, joining the boycott would mean that you elect to avoid visiting the ‘Kunsthalle Berlin,' exhibiting at the ‘Kunsthalle Berlin,’ or patronising/supporting a highly dubious operation that can only serve to further erode the culture of the city of Berlin.
WHOSE SUPPORT ARE WE SEEKING? We hope to receive wide support from Berlin’s artists and cultural workers. We’re also hoping for generous support from Berlin's (and Germany’s) cultural institutions. Many of our cultural institutions are struggling to finance their ongoing exhibiting and collecting practices. All the while, our politicians are pouring money into private projects dreamt up by the likes of Smerling (who can’t even be bothered to pay artists a modest artist fee when their work is exhibited). We’d also like to see a multitude of curators, writers and institutional leaders expressing their support for the artists who have chosen to join this boycott. We welcome the support, also, of anybody who cares about the future of art and culture in Berlin.
HOW CAN YOU EXPRESS YOUR SUPPORT FOR THIS BOYCOTT?
If you think a boycott of this institution is appropriate and would like to express your support, please do so by re-posting this text on your social media ('re-posting' is more effective than ’sharing’) or, of course, by sharing it in other ways (via e-mail, by word of mouth). Help this conversation to go viral. Share information about this institution with those in your community—artists, curators, writers, people who care about this city and its art community. We wish to build a broad alliance. This boycott is designed to start a broad conversation. Feel free to add information and shape the content in this post as you wish. There is plenty of nuance and depth to be added as the conversation unfolds in the public sphere. Share, share and share.