Welcome to ABA (AIR Berlin Alexanderplatz), an artist-run initiative. Our mandate at ABA sets out to investigate how “artistic research” has become increasingly engaged with fields of knowledge that lie beyond what has traditionally been considered the “artistic sphere.” Conducting fieldwork, delving into archives, drawing parallels, testing hypotheses, creating photographic documentation and compiling new “findings” have all become integral parts of the contemporary term “artistic research” -defined by Mika Hannula as “methodological abundance” that sets itself apart from traditional scientific methodologies. The very idea of artistic research has prompted theorists such as Paul Feyerabend (Against Method) and Bruno Latour (Laboratory Life: The Social Construction of Scientific Facts) to call static notions of “method” and “fact” into question, giving particular relevance to subjective, interdisciplinary, and experimental approaches to research.
Today, when the majority of communication is done online, often between people who will never meet and always with the threat of being monitored, ABA strives to create spaces where people can freely express their ideas in a comfortable, aesthetically stimulating environment and be met with immediate, face-to-face responses. The border between the public and private spheres is blurred as like-minded strangers come together in the streets, parks, and apartments of Berlin, the entire city becoming a living room, where history is already pressing in from all angles.
ABA’s operations consist of the conception, curation, and implementation of various work and presentation formats: The organization of Salons, the release of Publications, the stewardship of a Residency Program, the organization of Lab, the maintenance of online Notices, and lastly the management of the BFSCA (Berlin Field School of Contemporary Art). Whether you are joining us as an artist-in-residence, an attendee of our frequently held salons, or as a reader of one of our publications, your attention is already a contribution to the development of ABA as a safe, cooperative space where artists, curators, designers, theorists—and anyone who is interested—can come together in support of each other’s endeavours.
The idea for which began in 2009. Artists’ Susanne Kriemann and Aleksander Komarov invited friends and acquaintances from around the city of Berlin to their home at Alexanderstraße 13, a ten-story Plattenbau built in 1960. ‘From the balcony of this relic of GDR modernism, we had a full view of Alexanderplatz—the pseudo-Art Deco Alexa, the Fernsehturm with its shining dome, myriad constructions sites, the Rotes Rathaus resurrected out of the Italian Renaissance—as a microcosm of Berlin’s unique and eclectic style. It was Walter Benjamin who juxtaposed the term salon with the term marketplace. Looking down on the modern marketplace of Alexanderplatz, our small group of artists, gallerists, art directors, curators, musicians, architects, writers, and researchers discussed the sociological and political implications of contemporary art production in the dynamic metropolis that is Berlin.
ABA offers residences to researchers based in Switzerland (Pro Helvetia), The Netherlands (Mondriaan Fonds) and Belgium ( Cultural Heritage Arts) and serves as a living space, production studio, and meeting point for residents and their extended communities. ABA also facilitates salons, which are a foundational aspect of our program.