text is based upon a "talk" from 17.10.1994 at BOTSCHAFT. The participants
were Bettina Ellerkamp, Natasha Sadr Haghigian, Joerg Heitmann, Christoph
Keller, Merle Koerger, Ed van Megen, Philip Scheffner, Pit Schulz, Florian
story of BOTSCHAFT can be read as follows: In the beginning there was a wish
to find crossovers between different disciplines like i.e. art, science, TV.
and every day life, in order to define new contexts. The motivation came from
the unsatisfying situation of isolated individualism. As a result of this
togetherness, the possibility prospered for the individual to use technical
as well as communicative structures.
Dromomania (01) was the first event
of BOTSCHAFT after renovating the squatted 4th floor of the WMF-Building,
and "united-party" (3.10.1990; the German reunification date). Artistic reasoning
was connected with political interest, the situation in the squatted house,
and the reconstruction plans at the nearby Potsdamer Platz (the central place
of Berlin). There was a concrete interest for local publicity. To concentrate
on the interaction, none of the BOTSCHAFT members appeared in public with
their own projects. Later a search started to integrate personal interests.
Today, work is done by different kinds of group constellations, BOTSCHAFT
functions as an information pool, work- and thought space. Out of a yearning
for continuation of discourse, most of the members stuck on certain themes.
Projects ran through different phases and as a consequence it came to differentiation
and a more intensive interest. In the best case, these different point of
views expanded, broadened the discussion, in the worst case they led to an
obstruction of handling.
The attempt with Dromomania to bring together different disciplines, regarding
a theme, was a model. "Richtig 92" (02)
was the further developing of this idea. Border areas were sought, where valuation
exists beyond the duality of right and wrong, true and untrue. Various projects
and actions emerged from that. The different positions were presented one
after the other and successively linked. Although different particles of publicity
couldn't be brought together (03) ,
"richtig 92" reached a wide spectrum of people because of the heterogeneity
of the projects.
What BOTSCHAFT is, has developed out of the continuity of events. The work
is less strategic as it seems and it should be understood as an ongoing process.
Instead of theoretical farness, rather practical nearness. It has less to
do with art, maybe more with cultural work in the broadest way one can define
cultural. This means being a place for interdisciplinary work in the center
of Berlin as well as offering drinks and functioning as a bar. The local reference
is central, the question about the art system rather peripheral. The "Friseur"
was opened 1992 to confront events with a bar audience. Film screenings, video
projections, music appearances, political lectures and art exhibitions took
place. The art system is not strategically exhausted but rather used as any
other system (04) . Invitations from
the art context are often answered with self representations, which also reflects
the actual relationship of BOTSCHAFT towards the institutions concerned and
art in general.
BOTSCHAFT is not only known in a local area, but also in a peripheral group
inside the European art centers, which means in the periphery of a so called
peripheral area of art we reach a certain circle. To agitate local means addressing
a wide spectrum of people. To be known by a group at the brink of the international
art scene confirms the image of avant-garde in art.
The way BOTSCHAFT events like i.e. a party functions without strategy has
its advantages and justification - one can't arrange "everything" by strategy-.
To renounce a systematic and success oriented program creates room for action.
In a certain way this is also - let's not call it; strategy - a concept. If
i.e. the connection between BOTSCHAFT, "Friseur" (the bar) and the WMF-club
(the discotheque) is being offensively represented, than just to demonstrate
the rooting in different surroundings and to show that BOTSCHAFT is not just
present in the art system. To concentrate on a group-strategy would have meant
to name Dogfilm (05) BOTSCHAFT TV, the
WMF-club BOTSCHAFT CLUB, and all members would have published under this label
called BOTSCHAFT. Corporate Identity - Multi-Imperium - But it isn't necessary,
cause the links are being made anyhow.
of becoming an institution were rejected because of the experience with ABM-jobs
(06). BOTSCHAFT exists because of content,
not by doing administration work. The two years with ABM and the bureaucratic
bulk, paralyzed work and partly discussions were repressed. Today some members
finance themselves by producing for a (B TV-magazine others by bartending
or grants. Nevertheless BOTSCHAFT j|| takes over a few assignments other institutions
would have to fulfill. Sll The infrastructure takes care of the social background.
reunification, the result of squatting the WMF-Building, and its location
in the east part of town, were certainly important for the foundation. The
whole physical context influenced the events BOTSCHAFT organized. A situation
which is changing at the moment. Projects which were bound to a certain time
or euphoric start failed because the atmosphere changed.
The computer networks are now in a similar situation like the city was shortly
after reunification. Something explodes into a vacuum. The webs are growing
and free spaces are being created. Although at the moment the impression is
spread that quick, swift action is necessary. Therefore, to squat "spaces"
again...? The danger exists that the political connotation of these "spaces"
will be neglected. We should be aware that what is changing is the form, not
the content of the discussion.
doesn't appear in public as a closed group, propagating a manifest. Ideas
are taken up by members and further developed. Authorship is automatically
being questioned, without becoming a central theme. The question: What will
future practice look like? The pressure to make a statement about the art
system is huge. It is annoying when projects don't function freely enough,
although they are principally all right.
with a more process like character such as i.e. "Beirut/NY/Berlin" or "Museum
for Future" (07) stand beside events
like "BOTSCHAFT Praxis" (08) , a combination
of three individual works or "IG Farben" (09)
, a pragmatically political action. At the "Beirut/NY/Berlin" (10)
project the ongoing character becomes clear. In the beginning two separate
events were planned, one in Beirut and one in Berlin. However the realization
was delayed. Out of that, developed an interest in observing the "non public"
phases. A few projects consciously moved in the peripheral art area and use
this place not as a springboard for the center but because of the quality
of communication there, which isn't present in the center.
-The option to work in a small group over 1 or 2 years on a certain theme
without giving way to the pressure of the public, could be signified as a
"Strategy of Refusal".
-"Strategy of Refusal" is too superficial,
-It is a "Strategy of Refusal" because there is a "Dictation of Production",
The latter means that results have to be delivered and in any case, continuously,
-Today the term "product" is differently defined, Information itself is the
product. That's why it is necessary to tie strategic alliances, to build up,
in a short time, a functioning web where information can be positioned,
-Although to justify certain themes, sometimes a change of velocity is useful
to slow down in order to delay the moment of publishing. This also means to
understand BOTSHAFT as a possible "public space".
-It is very convenient to declare the heterogeneity of the group as a fundamental
principle. To give the inside communication a priority means excluding other
parts of the public which could be an asset for the process,
-This has something to do with the fear of "failure"
-When the "failing" becomes and stays self-referential it is without doubt
counter productive. If, on the other hand the public is integrated after a
certain phase, then there exists the possibility that "failure" can release
a public discourse.
(01) In November 1990, the former headquarters
of the WMF, a firm mainly manufacturing cutlery and kitchenware, became the
spiritual starting point and place for the project "Dromomania - cult and
ritual of daily movement-" BOTSCHAFT squatted the 4Th. floor of this house
for the sake of working space room for events and initiated a project which
operated on the intersection of architecture, city planning, art and citizens'initiatves.
"Richtig 92" was a row of events dealing about the understanding of reality
and in a broader sense about "documentation". Excerpt from the press info
"In traditional media, but also in disciplines like art or philosophy, under
the heading ot such titles as "The Disappearing of Reality", there is a desperate
creation of strategies to save "reality". Out of a helplessness confronting
the complexity of the phenomenon, very often critic arises against the audio-visual-communication
tools and the
developing computer technology, which basically questions their use and meaning.
By doing so one thing is overlooked. Man without a TV-set already had a problem
with reality. The question: Who we are and what happens at the moment? is
as old as mankind itself."
"Museum fur Geschichte" (Museum of History) and "Fishing for Documents", two
"Richtig 92" events, which took place one after the other, had a completely
different audience although both events belonged together thematically, and
had to be understood as a global statement. With "Museum fur Geschichte" six
artists, for the duration of one week each, located a model-archiv. In the
spotlight stood cooperation as a means to connect that what was presented
and took place before with the actual exhibition. Each exhibition followed
a model and took over from the previous exhibitions an excerpt, a souvenir,
a fragment. With "Fishing for Documents" video and film makers were invited
to do a row of seminars. On two weekends working methods in-between documentary
and fictional movies were presented and discussed.
Example: Row of exhibitions "Dagegen-Dabei" (Against it-in it) January 1995,
Kunstverein Hamburg, shows production and strategy of art projects since 1969.
BOTSCHAFT together with two other groups called "Büro Bert" and "minimal
club" will work out a radio programme for 10 days. Temporarily the exhibition
space will turn into an office, archive and broadcast studio.
Since January 1993 Dogfilm (5 persons who are all founding members of BOTSCHAFT)
continuously work for a political TV-magazine called "Z", once a month which
is broadcasted all over Germany on the frequency of RTL. As part of the editing
staff Dogfilm has the possibility to practically realize its vision of a reflexive,
1992/93 six ABM jobs (a project financed by the Berlin Senat for unemployed
people) at BOTSCHAFT were granted. An equipment pool was designed and the
wages of 6 people were divided so that 10 people could work for BOTSCHAFT
In December 1993 the "Museum for Future" was installed for the first time
in the Künstlerhaus Bethanien for the duration of a fortnight. Ideas
about future were collected and communicated. The collected material, which
was ordered in numerical organizers is at the moment being digitized in order
to be accessible through Internet. The structure of the "Museum for Future"
is in a state of ongoing process and at the same time subject of discussion.
Three individual works, "cip", "pacemaker" and "E-SMOG", have been made and
shown at BOTSCHAFT In the Shedhalle in Zurich (may 94) these projects were
for the first time under the heading of "BOTSCHAFT Practice" presented. "BOTSCHAFT
practice" referred to the aspect of a community as a practical platform of
By the example of "IG Farben" (During WW II the world greatest chemical industry,
responsible for producing "Zyklon B"), it becomes clear how. a supposedly
forgotten sector of German history is confronting us today again with the
national-socialistic past. The "IG Farben" shares seem to be a good deal for
young brokers. The main issue of the project was therefore to concentrate
on the actual situation of "IG Farben", who tries to reclaim buildings in
the former east. The 53 real estate objects in Berlin were marked by posters,
which gave information about the history of "IG Farben" and what will happen
to the buildings in the near future. Simultaneously in the exhibition space
of BOTSCHAFT, the action as a documentation was presented and at the opening
a lecture was given by Hans Frankenthal, who is a member of the "Auschwitz
committee" and a former forced laborer at "IG Farben" and over 40 years now
actively doing resistance work against this company. At the same time a lot
of articles appeared in various newspapers.
"Beirut/NY/Berlin" is work in progress and has already gone through different
phases of work and discussion. This was actually not expected when Jayce Salloum
and Walid Raad, participants of "Fishing for Documents", came up with the
idea of organizing something like an exchange. During the preparations it
became clear that those who wanted to be involved only had access to little
information and clichés. No wonder, cause Beirut is being described
as "playground of terror", the media constantly spread anti-Arabic propaganda
increasingly since the disappearing of the old enemy "communism"< After almost
two years of communication, misunderstandings, euphoria and skepticism, five
members of BOTSCHAFT will fly to Beirut for a direct contact with the participants