Iconographic Dictionary on Collective & Collaborative Artistic Practices


The aim of the Iconographic Dictionary is to wonder: what are the shapes, formats, content, tactics and aesthetics of collective and collaborative artistic processes.

These terms speak to a set of approaches and ways of engaging with contemporary artistic practice where content and form are equally important; where aesthetic horizons pivot on the interaction with a multiplicity of actors from different disciplines of art and beyond (science, technology humanities); and factors: bodies of practice that stem from need-specific, time-specific, community-based, project-oriented ways of relating to the world and others. Simply put: ways of working and living together.

Based on experimentation, processuality, interdisciplinarity and critical engagement, subject matter is relational and has a chameleonic nature: appropriating or mimicking media, resources and operational methodologies from organizational structures that exist and apply beyond the art world.

Paraphrasing Robin Hewlett (STUDIO for Creative Inquiry) “what these groups share is an interest in addressing important social and political issues, in a manor that models a cooperative philosophy and counters the competitive nature of capitalist culture”. A “desire to speak as a collective voice that has long fuelled the social imagination of modernism (Gregory Sholette and Blake Stimson), collective organizing has a long history in social, political and economic realms”.

We wish to acknowledge the subjects and identify the objects of interest and concern in the triangular relationship “institutions/artists/communities” that produce and mediate art in the contemporary Berliner Art Scene. This project was born out of the observation and contact with these groups, partially from the point of view of the art historian, but also from the position of the foreign witness and, at the same time, a partaker of this scene.

Ultimately this project responds to a need for creating and legitimising a basis through which such practical bodies of knowledge, experience and views of culture can be recognised art forms. These sets of artistic practice so far exist outside of traditional cultural categories supported by private and public sectors, since a lack of vocabulary corroborates the old saying: what cannot be named, cannot be imagined and therefore cannot be eligible for funding.

Think of the dictionary as:
    •    a social sculpture
    •    a relational device
    •    a collective portrait
    •    a performative trace and a trigger
    •    a template for grant applications and grant givers
    •    a magic carpet for artists in residence

The dictionary will enact its most perverse desire: to subvert the limits of imagination.

The final publication will be dissected through a three day project where participants will be paired under similar dictionary entries to collaboratively unfold content during a performative day event. The process of this collaborative and performative phase will be led by Agora Collective in which an issue of the dictionary will be presented. Selections will also be published in Transart Institute’s ELSE Journal.

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Participating Artists:
María Alcaide, Eszter Bircsák & Melinda Sipos & REPLY+ALL, Stephano Casetti, Dorit Cypis, Patricia Domínguez & Palo Cháán, Leon Eixenberger, Hancock & Kelly, Tatiana Istomina, Asia Komarova & The Outsiders, Anne Labovitz, Judith Lavagna, Stephanie Migliorati, Cristina Miranda, Maia Nichols, Marianne Ramsay Sonneck & Club Real, Lezli Rubin, Stephanie Sabo, Abi Tariq & TBP, Anke Westermann, Kate Williams & ek.1 + many more.

Curator: Paz Ponce

Paz Ponce (Cádiz, 1985) is a Spanish independent curator based in Berlin, where she works with several non for profit organizations and municipal institutions supporting experimental approaches to art production & art education.  With a background in Art History from Universidad Complutense de Madrid (2005/11) and Freie Universität Berlin (2010/11), her practice researches on identity formation mechanisms with a special focus on Berlin’s self-organized art scene, departing from the Arendtian notion of “the common interest” (weltliche Bezug). She is interested in the symbols, collective archetypes and temporary needs bounding us together as a society. An architecture of the collective where memory, semantics and iconography play a key role. Part of her curatorial methodology reflects on lingüis-tics, an ongoing series of projects where language is conceived as a playful tool and synaesthetic attitude towards life and knowledge.

_ Current ongoing projects: Coordinator of AFFECT: Program for Collaborative Artistic Practices in Berlin (initiated by Agora Collective and co-funded by Creative Europe as part of CAPP); is involved with berlinerpool network as chief curator of the arts archive, providing conceptual and operational consultancy services for artists, curators and art organizations; collaborates with Galerie Wedding in the realization of curatorial and educational projects for children. Paz Ponce teaches a subject on the articulation of curatorial discourse for the Diploma offered by Node Center Curatorial Studies Online.