You Are Not Invited was a protest action created by Berlinklusion in 2019 at the Haus der Statistik as part of their Pioniernutzung initiative. This ‘un-exhibition’ — an exhibition that no-one was invited to, was our exploration of the relationship between gentrification, the temporary use of non-arts spaces for cultural purposes, and the neo-liberal structures that perpetuate inaccessible working conditions for arts workers in Berlin.
You are not invited.
You are not invited because we put on our exhibition already and it exists only in the past.
You are not invited because we didn’t tell you about our exhibition.
You are not invited because our exhibition was hosted by a space that became inaccessible.
You are not invited because the entrance was partially blocked.
You are not invited because the disabled accessible toilet was being used as a storage space.
You are not invited because the only other toilets were too unhygienic to use.
You are not invited because we were excluded from the community meetings.
You are not invited because we didn’t want to pass on and reproduce the inaccessible working conditions that we had encountered ourselves, to you, our public.
You are not invited because in so-called participatory urban development projects such as this1, who, and what kind of bodies, are imagined as urban ‘pioneers’? Certainly not disabled ones.
You are not invited because, while it may be considered reasonable in some quarters for some cultural workers to spend hours of their own unpaid time and their own money renovating a shell of a room, without heating and properly working toilets, in order to pay a subsidised rate to use such a space, many disabled cultural workers simply don’t have that privilege.
Instead, we invite you to visit our ‘un-exhibition’ right here, on this webpage. Our un-exhibition is the documentation of a protest action we performed in the Haus der Statistik in November 2019. Motivated by our experience of the space as inaccessible, both in terms of the physical building and the way it was being managed, we decided to flip the situation on its head. Rather than create a public event in the space that couldn’t possibly be accessed by our peers and friends, we decided to instead use the space to (creatively) make a point about access. Our point, is, in fact a question: why can’t these government subsidised spaces for cultural use be planned and managed in a way that ensures that they can actually be used by everyone?
We used this space on our own terms. We took the opportunities that this particular physical space gave us and used only the time in the space that was comfortable for our own individual bodies to collaborate with each other. In one day, we created an experimental exhibition along the broad theme of interconnectedness and correlations. We each selected pre-existing artworks from our practices, some recent, some older, that we felt resonated with these themes, the space, and the paradigm of inaccessibility that we found ourselves in.
Dirk created Frames of Reference, a site-specific interactive installation comprising 36 printed words in small wooden picture frames that we displayed along the exposed wooden struts of an unfinished chipboard wall. The frames were re-arranged to form different sentences. The words come from six different categories: verbs, expressions for time, expressions for place, quantifiers for subjects, quantifiers for objects, and conjunctions. For example: “If some always have everything here”.
Kirstin’s five photo-collages from her series If One Were Two (2018 / 2019 ongoing) depicted rich landscapes, each one divided in two horizontally by a fine gold metallic thread. Our only indication of what separates above from below, or reality from reflection is the thread, connecting them literally and metaphorically and seeming to compress both space and time. In addition to this, she created a mixed wall collage, that was a kind of rendition of the group collage we did for „Call and Response“ at Aquarium in 2017. Kirstin used outtakes of printed work and 3D and 2D collage materials left from our workshops that we used to create a free-form installation. Kirstin would put something on the wall, then Dirk or Jovana responded in the moment and so on until we felt it was done.
Jovana presented two works. First, a series of minimalist acrylic drawings and paintings on canvas and paper from 2018 called Water Land Heavenly Bodies which depicted a multitude of objects and perspectives, basic elements of a landscape such as the land, the water, the sun and the space itself, weaving themselves into a new whole with the potential of continuing to intertwine, to change and to expand. Her second work was a detail from a 2004 installation piece Contratto d’alloggio / Contract of Accommodation, a picture made from rusted iron frame, glass, print on paper and pvc, electro-motor, dust and dirt, referring to a neurological system in which all the cells are interconnected.
Lastly, Kate wrote a text about our overall experiences, which you can read here at Tanzschreiber online magazine. She also wrote this exhibition text and visual descriptions of the artworks in the images you will find on this page.
Our small performative action was perhaps not what was expected of us when we occupied the tiny space offered to us at the Haus der Statistik and it was certainly not what we had originally planned. But we hope that, in some way, it will at least be a more accessible experience for our viewers than at the Haus der Statistik, and will draw attention to the often exclusionary nature of such cultural urban development initiatives and encourage the facilitators of such projects to think of disabled bodies right from the very start so that such temporary affordable spaces can be used by everybody.
 I say so-called because the documents outlining the participatory process by which the Pioniernutzung initiative for Haus der Statistik was conceived does not seem to have involved any groups or communities reflecting the needs of people with disabilities, particularly those working in the cultural field. https://hausderstatistik.org/pioniernutzungen/
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