View through a showcase into the exhibition space.

You Are Not Invited

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 is standing in front of Dirk Sorge's work Frames of Reference.
Dirk Sorge, Frames of Reference, interactive installation, 36 picture frames, dimensions variable, 2019 (photo credit: Jovana Komnenic).

Image Description: Kirstin, who is a white woman with long auburn/dark brown hair wearing a long dark coat and wrist/warmers, reaches up above her head towards a thin wooden shelf with her left hand. Along the shelf sit 6 pine picture frames, around 15 centimeters long by 10 centimeters high, each about 3 centimeters apart from each other, with a white piece of paper inside that has a different word printed on it. The pictures are arranged to read: if some always take everything here. Kirstin holds in her right hand another one of these frames and in it the word reads: have. She is holding it just below the shelf and looks as if she is contemplating where along the shelf she should place it.

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.

Kirstin Broussard's work Untitled, 10 photographic prints and gold thread.
Kirstin Broussard, Untitled, photographic prints and gold thread, 2019 (photo credit: Jovana Komnenic).

Image Description: Ten colour photographic prints are lined up in a row along a white wall. Each photograph has been taken in a portrait format and depicts a landscape with a horizon. But in each image, the horizon is positioned at a different place – sometimes it is near the top of the image, sometimes it is in the middle, sometimes near the bottom. The images are lined up so that the horizons of each image connect with each other and from a distance, can be seen as one long, straight horizontal line. Looking closer and one can see that the landscapes are actually composed from different images. Some have been flipped upside down, some are images of landscapes captured in the reflection of glass or water.

Kirstin Broussard stands in front of her wall collage work.
Kirstin Broussard, Untitled, paper and photography collage, 2019. (photo credit: Jovana Komnenic).

Image Description: Kistin stands in front of an off-white wall. The wall has been plastered in a patchy way, with grey render in uneven shapes. One can see where wallpaper has been pulled from the wall and painted over but left behind a rectangular shaped imprint. Kirstin is in the process of placing various coloured shapes of paper and foam shapes onto the wall to make an abstract collage. There are black oblong shapes of foam about 20 centimeters long, yellow circles about 20 centimeters in diameter, smaller black circles around 10 centimeters in diameter and at the center of the collage, a white framed pencil drawing of a brick well. Kirstin holds a yellow circle with a circle hole cut out of its middle in her right hand. She is pinning it to the wall. In her other hand she holds two A4 sheets of paper with coloured photographic prints on them.

A close up of Kirstin's wall collage.
Kirstin Broussard, Untitled, paper and photography collage, 2019 (detail). (photo credit: Jovana Komnenic).

Image Description: A close up of Kirstin’s collage, on the left of the image are two paper circles overlapping each other. One is an offcut from a photograph, it is blue in colour and depicts the black branches of a tree. On top of this circle is another circle of white paper, with black printed text. The Paper is tick and has Braille letters punched into it. Slightly out of focus and further along the wall, lie the other parts of the collage. The various circles and black oblong shapes making up the collage have been stuck directly onto the wall contrasting with the framed pencil drawing, that sticks out by about two centimeters from the wall.

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.

Jovana Komnenic's work Water Land Heavenly Bodies, 7 drawings/paintings acrylic on canvas and paper.
Jovana Komnenic, Water Land Heavenly Bodies, drawings/pantings acrylic on canvas and paper, 2018 (photo credit: Jovana Komnenic).

Image Description: Four paintings on canvas and three framed paintings on paper below them, hang on an off-white wall. All seven pictures depict minimalist images of things from nature: the first two images are bodies of water, blue-gray oceans whose surfaces seem to be caught and sprayed upwards by the wind. The next image is a set of three green mountains in simple triangle forms. The last image on the top row is devoid of any imagery, but brushstrokes are visible. The colour is the same colour as the wall behind it, so that the picture almost gives that part of the wall the optical illusion that it has raised itself away from the rest of the wall. Along the bottom row the first image depicts another trio of triangle shaped mountains, this time in a sandy yellow colour. The second image shows another ocean scene, this time calmer, without wind, the greenwaves forming neat curled crests. Lastly, the final image depicts a sandy toned moon or a sun.

Jovana Komnenic's work Contratto d’alloggio / Contract of Accommodation, rusted iron frame, glass, print on paper.
Jovana Komnenic, a detail from Contratto d’alloggio / Contract of Accommodation, rusted iron frame, glass, print on paper and pvc, electro-motor, dust and dirt, 2014. (photo credit: Jovana Komnenic)

Image description: Originally part of an installation, this particular artwork comprises of a black metal frame, around 50 centimeters by 35 centimeters. Inside the frame, behind glass, lies a red frame of what appears to be a satin like material. On top of that are two pieces of paper overlaying each other. The bottom image looks like a black and white image perhaps originally printed on newspaper print and blown up so that the individual dots of ink can be seen, and rendering the original image unidentifiable. The image on the very top, is a black ink drawing of a system of points, connected by intercepting and overlapping straight lines.

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.

[1] 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.

Seen from the outside at dusk, the You Are Not Invited exhibition is seen from outside the Haus der Statistik building.
You Are Not Invited, exhibition view from outside, 2019 (photo credit: Jovana Komnenic).

Image Description: Seen from the outside at dusk, the You Are Not Invited exhibition is seen from outside the Haus der Statistik building. A brick and concrete facade surround the high glass window. The window has graffiti tags sprayed onto it near the bottom and mid-section, but one can still see into the room. A discarded magazine is wedged between the window frame and the adjacent graffiti covered brick wall. Inside the window a white pull-up banner about 2 meters high, with Berlinklusion’s name and logo sits in the bottom left side of the window. Behind it, we can see a room that has been lit by a yellow floor-lamp. On the wall directly behind the banner we have a clear view of Jovana’s Water Land Heavenly Bodies artwork, and on the wall to the left, Kirstin’s collaborative wall collage. Above the white rendered walls are exposed concrete and bricks joining the last meter of the wall to the ceiling.