Agora Art Collective / Berlin, Germany

Agora Art Collective / Berlin, Germany

for various disciplines and any background; the main fields of interest are:
visual art, film, sound and music, dance/choreography, theoretical practices, philosophy, writing, architecture, curation, performance, creative science crossovers, political/social activism, web programming, design, innovation, animation, technology

Series: Urban Contemporary –
Hotspot Berlin (Neukölln), PART VI

An integrative and sustainable stance on
Art, Work and Food

Agora Art Collective found a home at this five levels of a high brick building with its 140 sqm space in the very south of Berlin, at the district of Neukölln.
Big windows offer light flooded working facilities and the fond design of the premises shows – from the apple tree veranda, the artist’s atelier, the co-working offices and the restaurant areal.

The central aspect of Agora’s concept is presented clearly from the start.
The aim is to combine divers, seemingly contradictory fields in a symbiotic way to find new solutions, results and methods.
The entry page online shows it already: Work – Art – Food.

According to their self-description, Agora is a project space, hosting people and projects based on a philosophy that reflects the values of its community: diversity, self-organisation and social ties.

Let’s see how engaged the art collaborative, founded by Pedro Jardim and Caique Tizzi more than three years ago, with their core team including Marcela Donato and Tainá Moreno realises that.

Caique Tizzi, founding director and artist,
originally from Brazil
At this location near U-Bahn station Leinestrasse, Agora provides a co-working space on two floors, also hosting a party called Democracy International and a company called Impact Hub focussing on the social impact through social media, a restaurant, and of course it’s residency programme.
It gets together artists and thinkers of all kinds investigating social art practice, showcasing performances, panel discussions, exhibitions and artistic interventions. Those events also take place at other locations of the city.

The Agora Residency Programme is called AFFECT and has a trans-disciplinary approach, in terms of selection of their participants as well as working procedures. It takes place in three modules, meaning three times a year. The time frame for one module is about three months.
The programme is structured in five phases: Contextualizing, Nourishment, Conceptualizing, Materializing and Outcome. Eric Ellingsen was the moderator of module I, module II was moderated by Fotini Lazaridou Hatzigoga, and module III will be guided by Diego Agulló. Interviews with all protagonists can be read online.

One group comprises up to eight international participants, but can also be less, like at present there are seven fellows participating. Two of a group are allowed to be based in Berlin/Germany and may obtain a scholarship.
This time it is a Danish and a Canadian artist based in Berlin, coming from the background of the Institut für Raumexperimente. This institute, led by artist Ólafur Elíasson in affiliation with the College of Fine Arts at the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK), concluded its five-year educational research project in March 2014.
Generally, the intention is to select participants not only of different track records and nationalities, but also of nearly

contradictory fields, artistic approaches and professional orientations. In an intense exchange with personalities of divers disciplines like choreographer/dancer, sculptor, architect, musician, visual artist, editor etc., the fellows are encouraged to reflect on concepts of collaboration, the extend of personal input and mixed authorisation. They find tools and modes of creating something new.
The ‘something new’ is meant to be quite specific: After building a collective spirit they crystallise their experiences into a show and publication. This is designed and realised during the three months process, facilitated by Judith lavagna and thanks to John Holten, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Broken Dimanche Press.

The fellows are also accompanied throughout their stay, and already before and after, by the coordinator of the residency programme and curator Paz Ponce. Originally from Spain and having graduated from art history, she is working with Agora since nearly one year. Paz Ponce is warmly taking care of and advising the rather young participants, helping and supporting them content wise as well as in practical terms.
Although the programme is open to any age, mostly students at the final term of their studies, graduates or artists apply who are at a certain period in their careers, perhaps at a point of stagnation or reorientation. They take this chance of a platform to collide and complete, to jump into a void, to explore the unknown.

Sedimenting and confronting themselves with a new context is used as a method to grow and to move forward. It is also a kind of training on how to be open to proposition and how to engage, to share the common belief that aesthetics communicate.
Thus, this is one reason why the selection jury particularly wants the applicants to explain their understanding of community and social commitment.
The spacious studio on the top level of the building appears to provide ideal conditions for creative collaboration. Big tables, draft walls, even an own kitchen and a music system help to develop an inspiring atmosphere.
The intensive examination of topics as well as the Berlin based art scene is boosted through special endeavours like a 24 hours exploration through the city, guided by a moderators.

PARTS OF A BODY / A BODY OF PARTS: A Choreographic Insert In The Shape Of a Text.

Apart from realising the residency programme AFFECT, Agora Art Collective runs the performance programme ‘Foreplay’ and sets up a festival called ‘Collects’.
That a text can be choreographic Emma Waltraud Howes demonstrates and Lorenzo Sandoval explores with this proposition on 16th August 2014.

Not only for events like these the restaurant area becomes a gathering place for the most divers mix of Berlin based, art interested people. Food, cooking and dining commonly is a central aspect for the association. In their definition, eating is the initial ritual of gathering.

Once a week Agora hosts the Food Assembly. So, every Wednesday the local farmers who are part of the food assembly network bring their products to sell them directly to the customers. The need to subscribe and order the groceries in advance.
Weekly altering chefs in residence create a menu and community and networking dinners are installed. Even the offered drinks are to be mentioned.
The eye catcher surely is the large water filter, but also the choice of beer is not random:
There you get ‘Quartiermeister’, which has been nominated as sustainable beer of the ‘Kiez’ (region).

The facts
Always practical to know are the opening hours:
Co-working and Studio Access, Mon-Sun: 0:00 – 0:00 h (24/7), Agora TEAM availability, Mon-Thu: 10:00 – 14:00 h, Agora Café, Mon-Sat: 10:00 – 17:00 h, Sun: Special events, Agora FOOD Platform, Mon-Fri: Lunch 13:00 – 16:00 h, Sat: All-day brunch, Sun: Special events

It is a programme tutored by five facilitators, each one guiding the process for 20 days, also accompanied by a moderator and coordinators.
A light and inviting artist’s atelier at the operating location of Agora Art Collective at Mittelweg 50 is provided, and fortunately the rental contract for the upcoming five years is signed. Accommodation needs to be organised individually.
Application instructions and deadlines can be found online.
The costs for tuition are 1.000 Euro per month, and of course AFFECT helps to find funding with the national institutions at the participant’s home countries.
Trying to find national and EU funding bodies to receive institutional financing themselves, the collective has yet set up a broad network, like collaborating with Neuköllner Salon, Kulturnetzwerk Neukölln, as well as with Instituto Cervantes in Berlin and Goethe Institute São Paulo for exhibitions and art installations.

To conclude
Participants will find a well-structured programme with specialised councillors by their side, embedded in an integral concept at a warm and inspiring space. Recommendable!

More info on the Agora Art Collective e.V. homepage and on Facebook.

Photos: A.M.;
Interview with Paz Ponce,
Coordinator of AFFECT,
Agora’s Programme for Collaborative Artistic Practices in Berlin,
16th August 2014.