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Die Kolonie – Encouraging participation

“My wife Eva and I always wanted to rename Worpswede so as to liberate it from all preconceptions of what it is supposed to represent. But of course this was not possible!” (Martin Kausche, founder of the Künstlerhäuser Worpswede (Worpswede Artists’ Residences), in 2006, aged 91, shortly before he died)

The “Kolonie” (German for colony) is an undertaking by the Künstlerhäuser Worpswede (Worpswede Artists’ Residences) that takes the form of a ‘land grab’ at the edge of the Teufelsmoor (Devil’s Moor) and that encourages people to get involved and become a part of this. It brings together artists, researchers, craftspeople and activists from various disciplines at the Martin Kausche-studios in Worpswede. Die Kolonie cooperates with international academies and art institutions and, on a local basis, regards itself as a source of contemporary stimuli for the Worpsweder Museumsverbund (Worpswede Museum Collective).

Urban art institutions are mirror images of their societies, and these institutions are undergoing structural and thematic changes in many regards today. The dominant funding logic based on ‘projects’ leads to isolated, evaluable containers of meaning where interrelationships, contexts and the transparency of heteronomies are disregarded. The curatorial paradigms of the last ten years – the political and the critical spheres – are in danger of being degraded into institutionalised discussion loops that tend to reinforce existing systems of thought and action rather than questioning these. One result of this is that art and its connection to life are increasingly giving way to an infinite range of possibilities – with the associated loss of art’s emancipatory and connecting potential.

First of all, Die Kolonie is just a concept, a loaded context – only a name. However, with this name we are now beginning our search and we aim to combine individual projects so as to favour a broad narrative and to create new connections. To do this, the Kolonie asks producers about a utopia for their own work. Die Kolonie’s aim is to become a totality of mutually interconnected individual units. Die Kolonie’s contemporary relevance thus results from the dynamics between events and from their societal and ecological contexts.

It is aiming reterritorialise its location by re-appropriating the notion of the term ‘colony’. It intends to continue the history of Worpswede as a fractal: Die Kolonie is a speculation with respect to a location that will eventually consist of numerous smaller copies of itself. In this way, it aims to use the entrance to modernity in an archaeology of the location in order to help to find a way out of post-modernity.