Berlin is a city where nothing stands still for long, and, over the last few years, the city has become a magnet for a new breed of young, contemporary artists, whose influence has been felt nationwide. Berlin is brimming with artists: there are an estimated 20,000 living and working in the city. They have been attracted to the German capital by cheap rents, masses of studio space and the city’s carefree, freewheeling spirit. Berlin’s arts scene stands out on the world stage. Cultural projects are generously funded and supported by many large and dynamic institutions in the city.
Berlin has a creative magnetism and has always used its buildings to articulate its significance. Amongst these is the Berlin Art Institute (BAI) which is an innovative and independent art school and residency space for artistic training. In 2015 two artists, Stephanie Jünemann and Ralf Schmitt founded the institute. With its pioneering concept of an international artist residency, contemporary art school and being an overall arts incubator, the BAI is an independent institute for artistic practice, training, discourse, and research in Berlin.
The BERLIN ART INSTITUTE makes use of the large number of national and international artists in Berlin and generates its temporary and regular partners from this pool to make a broad and flexible training offer. The regular events of the BAI with alternating artists, critics, curators etc. enable all participants an artistic and cultural exchange with the actors of contemporary art in Berlin during their study stay. The aim of the BAI is to stimulate exchange between artists, curators and other creatives and the directors create an environment for residents to succeed by offering professional support with networking, production and presentations. They also offer inspiration and support to their residents at a time when outcomes are especially uncertain and when ideas are often most fragile- in the private moments of creative daring when the pen is first put to paper, or brush to canvas. Collectively as an incubator, the BAI strives for a society that celebrates creative people and process, that values experimentation and exploration of new ideas and that recognises the role artists, and the creative process can have in achieving this vision.
The essential freedom that is necessary for all creative accomplishment is more important now than ever – freedom to develop without expectations of outcome, freedom to challenge assumptions, freedom to take bold turns toward new directions that will shape our world in years to come. Supporting artists and their creative development is not an easy feat. It is not easily measured by tickets sold or tourism generated, by test scores or tax returns. The tangible results – the plays and dances, books and music, and other creative works – often emerge months or years after the first creative spark. And many times the greatest impacts – on the individual artists themselves, on their communities and audiences, and on all the lives they touch – are not tangible at all.
The benefits of residency programs are vast for artists and creatives. On a very basic level, it gives an artist time and space to work, away from their normal lives. The second part of the equation is that residencies place artists in new communal contexts with new peers and mentors from all over the world. All of these factors create an environment where artists can make substantial jumps in their work in a short amount of time. The art world is full of contingencies, but residency programs are proven to help artists in measurable ways.
All images courtesy Berlin Art Institute.