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Speculations on Funding

29 June 2022, 10am – 6pm

at CAMP notes on education,
documenta fifteen, Kassel, Germany
Hafenstraße 76, Kassel, Germany

Open to public with limited places.
Please register here:

Keynote Speakers: Laura Alexander (Prince Claus Fund), Getrude Flentge, farid rakun (ruangrupa), Antonio Cataldo, Isabelle Graw, Joshua Decter, Niall Smith (TBA21), Marina Vishmidt, Enrique Rivera Gallardo

Participants in the discussion will also include Lumbung members (Arts Collaboratory), documenta fifteen artists and members of funding institutions (ifa, Goethe Institute, ProHelvetia, Alliance Française, Mondriaan Fond, Prince Claus Fond) amongst other independent foundations including TBA21.

Moderation: David Zabel, Dorothee Richter, Shwetal A Patel, Ronald Kolb
Organized by OnCurating.org

Supported by Ifa, Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen


10–12 am CET: farid rakun, Gertrude Flentge, Joshua Decter
1–3pm CET: Marina Vishmidt, Enrique Rivera Gallardo, Laura Alexander (Prince Claus Fond)
4–6pm CET: Isabelle Graw, Antonio Cataldo, Niall Smith (TBA21)

This day-long conference includes three panels, each with three inputs by the invited Keynote Speakers, followed by an in-depth discussion with the conference participants and the general public. The aim of the conference is to contribute to future funding policy frameworks, systems and approaches that are responsive to the complexity of a globally entangled art world.

The conference aims to address two key questions related to arts funding: Firstly: highlighting funding paradigms and questioning their complicity in the reproduction of unequal relations and the perpetuation of (neo)colonial dichotomies (including new dependency effects, i.e., perpetuating systems of exploitation, representation, asymmetric funding structures, etc.). Secondly: examining funding schemes that favour individual artistic production of reification/objectification (placing an emphasis on the funding of singular artists, thereby playing into the hands of an art market hegemonically structured for an economic system based on speculation), with its need for commodification.

Following OnCurating’s long-term research interests, including the history of the biennial phenomenon and similar curatorial projects and their impact on contemporary artistic production and critical discourse, a one-day conference on the theme of „funding paradigm shift“ / “Lumbung as Funding Structure” is being planned in Kassel on June 29th 2022.

The conference builds on previous OnCurating research projects and Journal editions, in particular OnCurating Issue 41: “Contemporary Art Biennials–Our Hegemonic Machines in Times of Emergency”. The documenta 15 conference will be the basis of a new journal edition “Speculations: Funding and Financing Non-Profits” which will be published following the conference.

In search of possible partners, ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) (for conference) and Pro Helvetia (publication fund) are generously supporting this conference and publication. The conference was conceived in dialogue with farid rakun (ruangrupa), and Getrude Flentge of documenta fifteen‘s curatorial team.

Publication Project
The outcome of this day-long conference will be edited alongside other in-depth articles on the political and economic frameworks of funding to be published in an upcoming OnCurating issue “Speculations: Funding and Financing Non-Profits”, to be launched in December 2022 in Kochi, Kerala.

The issue will examine current and past funding scenarios in relation to cultural policies, and attempts to elucidate how arts organisations and arts practitioners can navigate fundraising in uncertain times, whilst maintaining artistic and organisational autonomy. The current project continues five years of research by Zurich University of the Arts (see: OnCurating issue 35, “De-Colonizing Art Institutions”; issue 39 “Draft: Global Biennial Survey”; issue 41, “Contemporary Art Biennials – Our Hegemonic Machines in Times of Emergency”, co-edited by Prof Dr Dorothee Richter, Ronald Kolb, and Dr Shwetal A Patel), exploring the biennial phenomenon and its impact on contemporary artistic production and critical discourse. Issues 35 & 41 of OnCurating were accompanied by panel discussions and conferences, at Kunstmuseum Basel (2017) and alongside the Bucharest Biennale (2020).

David Zabel, CULTURAL EDUCATOR, PUBLIC SPEAKER, CURATOR, NETWORK MEDIATOR, develops educational content that reflects on activism,pop culture, sports and his ownmigration story. He explores new ways of connecting and shifting perspectives. He is Freelancer at Cultural Ministry of Hesse and Boardmember Randfilm e.V.

Detailed programme

10–12 am CET:  farid rakun, Gertrude Flentge, Joshua Decter

Joshua Decter
Epistemes of Sharing, Social Practice, and Collectivity vis-a-vis Art Financialization: A Thicket of Curatorial Contradictions?”

Decter will consider the intersection of alternative funding models and ostensibly decentralized curatorial methodologies in relation to historical examples of exhibition projects wherein attempts have been made to rethink traditional art commissioning & patronage models. For example, how exhibitions can operate as platforms to distribute private and public sector funding to grass-roots art organizations and art collectives not merely for the sake of producing new artworks, but also to repurpose those funds as a means of seeding the sustainable growth of those cultural initiatives beyond the horizon/scope of a temporary exhibition. In relation to this, Decter will also discuss concepts of ‘social practice’ as emblematic of the desire for art to have agency as a kind of social utility, so to speak.

Joshua Decter is a writer, curator, and art historian. His recent books include Art Is a Problem: Selected Criticism, Essays, Interviews and Curatorial Projects (1986-2012) published by JRP Ringier, and Exhibition as Social Intervention published by Afterall Books. Decter has contributed to many magazines and journals including Artforum, Art Review, Mousse, and Texte zur Kunst, and has authored numerous exhibition catalogues. He has curated exhibitions at MoMA PS1 in NYC, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, CCS Bard, the Kunsthalle Vienna, Friedrich Petzel Gallery, and Apex Art in NYC, and was a curatorial interlocutor for inSite_05 in Tijuana/San Diego. Decter founded the M.A. Art and Curatorial Practices in the Public Sphere program at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and has taught at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, the MA Curatorial Practice Program at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, The Cooper Union, The Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, NYU, UCLA, Art Center College of Design, and Bennington College.


1–3pm CET: Marina Vishmidt, Enrique Rivera Gallardo, Laura Alexander (Prince Claus Fond)

Laura Alexander
Forces of Art: Translations to Practice

The Forces of Art project of the Prince Claus Fund (in collaboration with Hivos and the European Cultural Foundation) represented an attempt to expand our understanding of the different ways in which the projects supported by the Fund transform individuals, communities and societies. We will present an overview of the discussions that have been prompted by and since the Forces of Art project, with a particular focus on the possible roles of affect, solidarity and decentralization within the practices of Funders working at the intersection of arts and social change. These questions have been fed by further explorations together with researchers, artists and other funders across the globe.

Laura Alexander is the coordinator of Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning at the Prince Claus Fund. She began her career at the Prince Claus Fund in 2017 as a researcher, gathering information on artists and cultural practitioners in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe to inform the decisions of the Fund, and was a core member of the working group for the Forces of Art project. During this time she also completed a master’s degree in Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam. She has held her current position at the Prince Claus Fund since January 2021, and she is passionate about developing collaborative ME&L practices that provide real insight into the needs of practitioners working at the intersection of arts and societal change.

Myriam Vandenbroucke works as an independent consultant in the field of impact management, research and evaluations, to contribute to the development of initiatives at the intersection of art, culture and societal opportunities. In the past 15 years, Myriam gained experience as a researcher and project manager in a wide range of sectors and institutions, from the arts sector, to juvenile detention centers, government, trade unions and the UN. She worked in several countries in Africa, the Middle East, Indonesia, and the Netherlands. As a Monitoring and Evaluation officer at the international development organization Hivos (2017 - 2020), she got acquainted with the role of arts in freedom of expression and was a core member of the working group for the Forces of Art project. Myriam was educated as a researcher and gained a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience in 2008.

Enrique Rivera
Tie time together

In the dark mystery that emerges from the vertigo of transition, time is dislocated with intensity. Monsters appear, poison and antidote, the balance between intuition and pragmatism. In the face of this condition, How to tie time together?, was an exhibition that incorporated kindness and tenderness at the chore of its context. The exhibition, distributed between Santiago, Chile, and Stuttgart, Germany, was a fertile ground where the art works, conceived during the social transformation that emerged in Chile from the October 2019 manifestations, and that lives its culmination process of transition with the constitutional transformation, were thought to provoke the gentle reunion of transformed bodies.

Since 1999 Enrique Rivera has developed a series of installations and curatorial works, experimenting with audiovisual, analog and digital media at the streets, clubs, galleries and museums. Currently he is the director of the arts and science Museo Interactivo Mirador. I am part of the board of the International Biennial Association, and between 2013 and 2022  I was the director of the Chile Media Art Biennial.

4–6pm CET: Isabelle Graw, Antonio Cataldo, Niall Smith (TBA 21)

Isabelle Graw

By capturing some of the recent structural shifts of the art economy this talk aims at a better understanding of how these changes affect the generation of value. I coined the term “resortization” in order to point to two of the paradigmatic shifts that have intensified online and offline since the pandemic: 1) the relocation of many art world interactions to the online sphere (mainly Instagram) and 2) the tendency of mega-galleries like Hauser& Wirth to open their branches in luxury resorts from Monte-Carlo to Aspen. Both developments will be discussed as being symptomatic for a deeper reorganization of the value sphere. The artworld becomes seemingly more accessible (online) and more secluded in the luxury-resorts at the same time. In both cases, an abstraction from actual working conditions takes place and contextual factors recede into the background. “Resortization” will also be shown to imply an absence of Critique because resorts don´t allow for Critique´s (ideally) situative, well argued and nuanced value judgments. I will end the talk by asking what it means for artists and critics to operate under these drastically changed conditions? What happens if one can´t assume one´s former evaluating public anymore? Does one have to aim for the currently celebrated exit from the value-sphere or is such an exit nothing more than an escapist phantasy?

Antonio Cataldo
From Marxist power struggle to institutional structural change

Hyper-professionalization and culturalization based on closed systems of acceptance and normalization entangle funding opportunities. How can we deconstruct such probes under the aegis of unrest challenging the univocal voices setting the ground for what's equality in the politics of representation? A case scenario for change would entail intergenerational and inter-institutional solidarity bound to break boundaries and strengthen trust in art institutions to fulfill these promises.

Antonio Cataldo is an Oslo-based cultural manager and writer holding a Ph.D. in Curatorial Studies. Since August 2018, Cataldo has served as the Artistic Director of Fotogalleriet, Oslo, an independent and publicly-funded institution, the oldest kunsthalle for photography in the Nordic region. Through exhibitions, discourse, and research for several internationally reputed organizations, Cataldo has actively challenged institutional models, their governing structures, and the representational social role of images. Cataldo studied with philosopher Giorgio Agamben in Venice, Italy, obtaining an MA in 2006. Cataldo sits on the boards of The Kunsthalles of Norway [Kunsthallene i Norge] and the Sandefjord Kunstforening Art Award jury.

Niall Smith, Chief Executive Officer | TBA21–Academy
Throw your pearls in the Ocean

Our existing systems are failing, environmentally, socially and economically.  The world is confusingly full of proclaimed solutions, none of which appear to consider cultures at all.  Neither the cultures they wish to change nor the cultures they want to create.  We need investment in culture and cultural practices to create viable alternatives to these broken systems.  At TBA21, we seek to develop and strengthen culture’s essential role in change and regeneration.

Niall Smith started his career in the Web1.0  boom of the late 1990s, working in broadcast technologies.  Over the past 20 years, he has worked in the public-private and not for profit sectors specialising in peer to peer learning, leadership and innovation. For the past 4 years, he has worked with TBA21—Academy Director Markus Reymann and Chairwoman Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza to promote and grow recognition for the crucial role that contemporary artists have in effectively addressing the critical challenges of our time.