Kunst- und Kulturförderung



Exhibition. Debate. Magazine. Initiated by Manuela Ammer, Eva Birkenstock, Jenny Nachtigall, Kerstin Stakemeier and Stephanie Weber.

20 Jul 2017 - 17 Sep 2017




As a ‘struggle of form', C. is not only concerned with political forms (…). The struggles of form are struggles of meaning; they imbue culture and language with active resistance. (…) “The sign becomes the arena of C.”

In dictionary entries, their initials represent terms after their first mention. Class, class struggle, class contradiction, as well as crisis, catastrophe, and colonialism turn into C. Our C. stands for Class Languages – and thus for a terrain of antagonisms in which past political orthodoxies encounter the social brutalities of the present. 

In this present, questions of the translation, articulation and (bodily) inscription of these divergences have become part of an all-encompassing process, whose transformations and intensifications we want to foreground with CLASS LANGUAGES: artistically, curatorially, within writing and in debates. We are not interested in presenting art as a stand-in for politics, but rather want to investigate the signatures, markers and forms of the deeply antagonistic relations, of which it is a material part: What we are concerned with, in other words, is art as a class language as much as class languages within art. 

We want to start mapping, appropriating, occupying and expanding a terrain on which we continuously produce fault lines. In three formats – in exhibitions, magazines, and debates – we want to periodically confront the notion of class languages in/of contemporary art and probe how they could be opened up towards a collective development of a practical knowledge, of forms of agency within and beyond art. Towards a notion of class that does not so much consist of mutually affirmative identifications but rather of shared forms of negativities, of translations of antagonistic experiences alongside one another. Leaving behind orthodox notions of class and the grammar of productivity attached to them as well as the ideologies of progress and freedom that they evoke, begs the question of the possibilities of a concept of class beyond such nationally organized modernisms. CLASS LANGUAGES seeks to pursue precisely such questions: How can we bring practical solidarities into articulation that rise out of the forms of oppression that unite and divide us alike – within art and beyond? 

A classed institution of globalized capitalism itself, art is not at all a privileged site of recovering authentic communication amidst the cold abstraction of the value form. Its contemporary form is based on precisely those modernisms that frequently made the notion of class appear unacceptably orthodox. Consequently, CLASS LANGUAGES is concerned with a heterodox perspective on both class and art. As the linguist Valentin Voloshinov observed in the short quote at the outset of this text: Each form is the terrain of class struggles. The first exhibition at District, the debate program that follows and the first issue of the magazine KLASSENSPRACHEN, which will be published at the closing of the show in September, present a diverse collection of materials, an exemplary view of those artistic, poetic, critical, media, and theoretical positions which we engaged in our search for points of orientation regarding the question of class languages. This collaborative working environment wants to assemble a panorama of its forms and antagonisms: Art is a starting point but – so we hope – not the end point of our ongoing commitment.

Participants: Kai Althoff/Isa Genzken, Gerry Bibby, Cana Bilir-Meier, Sean Bonney, Hans-Christian Dany, Övül Ö. Durmuşoğlu, Michaela Eichwald, Frank Engster, Fehras Publishing Practices, keyon gaskin, Sarah M. Harrison, Ann Hirsch, HATE MAGAZIN, Karl Holmqvist, Infofiction, Stephan Janitzky, Jutta Koether, Justin Lieberman, Hanne Lippard, Thomas Locher, MC Baustelle, Sidsel Meineche Hansen, Karolin Meunier, Rachel O’Reilly, Phase 2, Johannes Paul Raether, Monika Rinck, Aykan Safoğlu, Juliana Spahr, spot the silence, Starship, Josef Strau, Marlene Streeruwitz, Hans Stützer, Linda Stupart, Ryan Trecartin, Peter Wächtler, Ian White, Tanja Widmann, Frank B. Wilderson III, Susanne M. Winterling, Alenka Zupančič and others.



Thursday, 20.07.2017

Opening hours: 21.07.-17.09.2017, Wednesday - Sunday 2-6 pm 


Friday, 21.07.2017

7 pm KLASSENSPRACHEN / CLASS LANGUAGES – Translations and Transformations 
Monika Rinck (Berlin) and Juliana Spahr (Oakland) in conversation (EN)

The debate program of KLASSENSPRACHEN opens with short presentations by and a conversation between Monika Rinck and Juliana Spahr who, from different perspectives, have both worked on the urgency that poetry may claim today: as shared process of individuation, as a terrain of collectivity, as a political form – opening up reflection on the ways that class traverses it, transforms into it and appears as the subject and object of its translation. 

Monika Rinck is a writer, translator and poet based in Berlin. Her recent writings include Honigprotokolle (2012), Risiko und Idiotie. Streitschriften (2015) and Wir. Essay (2015). She curated the Poetica III (Cologne) 2017, and the poets-in-residency program Kur und Kür for Skulptur Projekte Münster 2017. See also www.begriffsstudio.de

Juliana Spahr is a writer, poet and critic based in Oakland, California. Recent publications include That Winter the Wolf Came (2015), An Army of Lovers (with David Buuck, 2013) and Everybody’s Autonomy (2001), a.o. Together with Jena Osman Spahr, she edits the book series Chain Links, and with Joshua Clover and Jasper Bernes she edits Commune Editions.

Saturday, 22.07.2017

12 am Performance Hanne Lippard (Berlin) / Response Marlene Streeruwitz (Vienna) (EN / DE) 
1 pm Lecture Marlene Streeruwitz (Vienna) / Response Hanne Lippard (Berlin) (DE / EN)

In this reciprocal format, artist, performer and poet Hanne Lippard (*1984 Milton Keynes) and poet, playwright and novelist Marlene Streeruwitz (*1950 Baden upon Vienna) present to each other one of their works and mutually comment upon it. In both their writings and stagings, though from very different vantage points, the question of femininity features as a social locus and space of (classed) violence that is distinguished by how language is processed and embodied. 

Hanne Lippard is based in Berlin. Recent shows include Flesh, KW Berlin (2017), FOAM, LambdaLambdaLambda, Prishtina (2016) and Fluidity (group show), Kunstverein in Hamburg (2016). Her new book This Embodiment was just released with Broken Dimanche Press, Berlin. See also www.hannelippard.com

Marlene Streeruwitz is based in Vienna, London and New York. In the last decades she has published widely in literary and poetic forms and has authored audio plays and theoretical essays. Recent publications include Yseut (2016), Wahlkampfroman (2016), So wird das Leben (2016), Poetik. Tübinger und Frankfurter Vorlesungen (2014) and Nachkommen (2014). See also www.marlenestreeruwitz.at

3 pm Politisch publizieren / künstlerisch publizieren: Einige Modelle
Fehras Publishing Practices (Berlin), HATE Magazine (Berlin), Phase 2 (Berlin/Leipzig) and Starship (Berlin) in conversation (DE)

This panel is dedicated to different publishing formats that have taken the regular, continuous as well as variable form of the magazine as their starting point but do not necessarily still produce within its frame. As an irregularly published print magazine, HATE MAGAZINE was founded in 2008 in Berlin and today primarily operates as an online format. Phase 2 was established in 2001 as a discussion platform of the antifascist and radical Left, as a printed form of their debates. What is at stake here – as is with Fehras Publishing Practices that exist in Berlin only since 2015 – is the shifting manifestation of political form in print. Fehras Publishing Practices adjusts its form to the respective format that its subject matter – the presence of North African and Middle Eastern publications in the English-speaking art world – assumes. Within this art world, Starship exists since 1998. As an artists’ and art magazine Starship has continually altered its mode of presentation, like Fehras, adjusting it as artistic form in relation to its subject matter. Using the example of these different publishing practices, the panel negotiates the question of artistic and political forms of radicality in print today.

6 pm Writing Towards an Aesthetic Practice? Writing Towards Art?
Justin Lieberman (Munich), Rachel O’Reilly (Berlin) and Josef Strau in conversation (EN)

The three artists and writers brought together on this panel have worked with largely different forms of writing as part of practices that do not seek to define art as a safe haven for aesthetic forms, but rather expand artistic production to a more general sense of aesthetic authorship – a sense of risk. In this panel, the question of risking art as an aesthetic practice is dedicated specifically to the roles language can play therein – and has been playing in the work of Lieberman, O’Reilly and Strau. 

Justin Lieberman (*Gainesville, FL) is a Munich-based artist whose recent shows include Installation View, Galerie Christine Mayer, Munich (2016), Je t’Empire, Le Confort Moderne, Poitiers (2015) and Squeezed Relief, Martos Gallery, New York (2014). Latest publications include The Corrector’s Custom Pre-Fab House (2015), Address to the Student Art Collective (Adjunct Commuter Weekly, 2017), Michel Auder’s Machinic Bohemia (2010/14) and Hopi Basket Weaving (2006). See also www.justin-lieberman.com

Rachel O’Reilly (*Gladstone, AU) is a poet, critic, artist and researcher based in Berlin. She teaches at the Dutch Art Institute and has recently collaborated with Natasha Ginwala a.o. on the public program of the Contour Biennial (2017). O’Reilly has co-authored the book On Neutrality: The Letter from Melos (2017) with Jelena Vesić and Vladimir Jeric and has presented her ongoing artistic work The Gas Imaginary (2016-) at different places, amongst them the Gladstone Regional Art Gallery and Museum (2016) and The Jerusalem Show (2017).

Josef Strau (*Vienna, AT) is an artist based in Frankfurt and New York. His recent solo exhibitions include Künstlerhaus Bremen (2017), House of Gaga, Mexico City (2016) and Secession, Vienna (2015). Strau has written widely both within the frame of his own practice as well as for catalogues and magazines. Amongst others, his publications include the essay “The Non-productive attitude” (2006), and most recently the books Dreaming Turtle (2015), The New World 2, Travels in Turtle Island (2015) and The Atlantis Search Engine (2013). In 1990, together with Stephan Dillemuth, he founded the artist-run space Friesenwall 120 (Cologne), and 2002-06 he was the curator of Galerie Meerrettich at the Volksbühne (Berlin).

8 pm After the Ice, the Deluge
Performance Linda Stupart (London) (EN) 

In their performance, part of their exhibition contribution, Linda Stupart will engage with the queering of scientific language, the burden of objects/image as proof and the relation between bodies and horror/abjection through the intersection of two divergent subjects: Morgellon's syndrome and the melting polar ice caps. 

Linda Stupart (*Cape Town) is an artist, writer and educator based in London. Recent solo exhibitions include A Dead Writer Exists in Words and Language is a Type of Virus at Arcadia Missa, London (2016), where Stupart also launched their debut novella, Virus (2016). Stupart’s work has been shown/performed at Matt’s Gallery, The Showroom, a.m. gallery, the ICA and Guest Projects in London. See also www.lindastupart.net



On Class, Identifications and Conditions of Production in the Arts

Thursday, 14.09.2017
5pm - 8.30 pm (dinner break included)

Workshop and radio programme
with Shanti Suki Osman and Anna-Lena Wenzel

During the construction phase of Klassensprachen, District’s production team, under the name of MC Baustelle (MC construction site), produced eight audio tracks that can be listened to in the exhibition. Here sounds and conversations from the construction site, but also autobiographical references to class and working conditions, become intertwined. In a public workshop MC Baustelle will incorporate new voices that will be tranferred to a radio programme, and broadcast on Missy Radio.

The participants of the workshop are invited to contribute to the dialogue with their own impressions of the exhibition and their experiences of class, of the realities of work and fluid identification in the field of art.

The tracks from MC Baustelle can be listened to here.
The tracks from MC Baustelle II can be listened to here

Further information on the workshop here.



Saturday, 16.09.2017

On the penultimate day of the exhibition KLASSENSPRACHEN at District Berlin, we celebrate the release of issue #0 of our eponymous magazine (with contributions by, among others, Cultural Capital Cooperative Object, Hans-Christian Dany, Övül Durmuşoğlu, Sarah M. Harrison, Christiane KettelerRachel O'Reilly, Susanne M. Winterling, and artists from the exhibition). A day of talks, discussions, a performance and a party will conclude KLASSENSPRACHEN in Berlin, whose next iteration will open in November at the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen in Düsseldorf.


4 pm Frank B. Wilderson III (University of California, Irvine) 
moderated by Kathy-Ann Tan (John-F.-Kennedy-Institut, FU Berlin)

In his talk, Frank B. Wilderson III will fundamentally question the negatively defined concept of class that has been central to the exhibition and debates programme of KLASSENSPRACHEN. One of his starting points in this respect is the history of the Black Liberation Army as an anti-systemic movement whose militancy exceeds the boundaries of modern political subjectivity (unlike, e.g., the RAF). Wilderson will discuss how the historical development and consolidation of class as bearer of Communist Revolution is based on a notion of political freedom that always already presupposes and excludes the black as slave. The modern notion of freedom that underlies the subject of labour finds its counterpart in slavery, rather than being located beyond it. Moderated by Kathy-Ann Tan, Wilderson will specify his theses in relation to a medium that has assumed its own particular place in his work and which, at the opening weekend of KLASSENSPRACHEN, Juliana Spahr and Monika Rinck have designated the site of a fundamental reconstruction of individuating thought: the poetic.

Frank B. Wilderson, III is a writer, poet, scholar, activist and filmmaker. He teaches Drama and African American studies at the University of California, Irvine. His fiction and creative prose, as well as his critical and scholarly work, have been published internationally and include Incognegro: a Memoir of Exile and Apartheid (2008), Red, White, & Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms (2010) and “The Black Liberation Army and the Paradox of Political Engagement” (2014).

Kathy-Ann Tan works as a literary scholar at the John F. Kennedy Institute of the Freie Universität Berlin. Her latest publications include Reconfiguring Citizenship and National Identity in North American Literary Imagination (2015) and, previously, The Nonconformist's Poem: Radical “Poetics of Autobiography” in the Works of Lyn Hejinian, Susan Howe and Leslie Scalapino (2008). In her current research project, Tan explores “The Aesthetics of Decolonization”.


6 – 6.30 pm Break 


6.30 pm Describing in Outs
Johannes Paul Raether and Tanja Widmann in conversation about two works

The allegedly neutral and standardized “work description” is ubiquitous in relation to art works: We encounter it in wall texts and on labels, in criticism and essays, and in the context of art education activities. Mostly, it is considered a necessary evil, a means to an end (namely, criticism or praise), a somewhat dull reflection of the work proper or tedious groundwork for the shaping of opinion. Conversely, one may claim work descriptions as the foundation of any communication about art: What they acknowledge or ignore, how they evaluate and structure, which (language) barriers they create or remove, determines access to the work in question. Johannes Paul Raether and Tanja Widmann will describe to one another a “work” of their choosing and respond to the descriptions of their respective counterpart. Neutral text turns into confrontational dialogue.

8 – 8.30 pm Break


8.30 pm its not a thing
Performance by keyon gaskin, ca. 50 min.

keyon gaskin prefers not to contextualize their performances with their credentials.

“its not a thing is an anti-theatrical solo performance problematizing trends in contemporary performance. With the work gaskin poses questions around the ‘multifarious nature of care and opacity.’ (…) undermines the roles of performer and spectator challenging our rules of engagement. The work is a punk gesture. It is not your typical theatrical experience and that is the point” - Ben Pryor, Curator American Realness, NYC


9.30 pm Cocktail and Magazine Launch


10 pm Party with music by Jane D and Skrait



CLASS LANGUAGES was initiated by Manuela Ammer, Eva Birkenstock, Jenny Nachtigall, Kerstin Stakemeier and Stephanie Weber. The next iteration of CLASS LANGUAGES is an exhibition at the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf, opening on 20 October 2017.

Exhibition design: Fotini Lazaridou-Hatzigoga. Graphic design: Offshore Studio.

Artistic Director District: Suza Husse with Janine Halka and Andrea Caroline Keppler. Executive Direcrtor: Frank Sippel. Production manager: Naomi Hennig. Communication: Johanna Ekenhorst. Technical support: MC Baustelle (Francy Fabritz, Josephine Freiberg, Anka Mirkin, Winnie Olbrich and Hassan Suleiman). Assistance: Eva Storms and Yoonhee Kim. Finances: Annett Hoffmann

A project by District Berlin funded by Hauptstadtkulturfonds Berlin. Supported by Cine Plus and Jungle World. 

For further information please visit: http://klassensprachen.org/