Art Space Unlimited

Resilient communities at the forefront of contemporary art institutions

Five European non-profit art organizations have teamed up to learn from each other and find new ways to open up to audiences with limited access to institutionalized culture. Initiated by La Escocesa (Barcelona, Spain), OFF-Biennale Budapest (Hungary), < rotor > (Graz, Austria), Shtatëmbëdhjetë / Foundation 17 (Pristina, Kosovo), and tranzit.cz / Biennale Matter of Art (Prague, Czech Republic), the project Art Space Unlimited builds upon the individual artistic and educational efforts of these institutions, providing space for local communities to gain resilience through participation in politically engaged exhibition programming and residencies. The art spaces involved will build shared knowledge and organize public events centered around the mediation of art. The project will help these institutions to become spaces relevant for an audience with limited access to institutionalized contemporary art and develop strategies which will be relevant across Europe. The project will culminate in a book that will be made available to cultural organizers and curators in six languages.

Participating institutions:

OFF-Biennale Budapest
La Escocesa
Shtatëmbëdhjetë / Foundation 17
< rotor > Centre for Contemporary Art

The project is co-funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the EACEA. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

Shtatëmbëdhjetë was registered as a foundation in 2018, and it engages in activities throughout all of the regions of Kosovo. The foundation aims to empower people of all genders to participate and contribute to communities and public life through culture, education, and activism. Shtatëmbëdhjetë’s primary programs encompass Arts & Education, Cultural Activism, and Space, organized within three distinct spaces. Galeria 17, with its four annual exhibitions and continuous programs such as May Classes and Pop-up Art Week, utilizes art as a catalyst to address crucial themes throughout the year. Rezidenca 17 provides residential opportunities for writers, researchers, scientists, and other professionals. Beyond offering a space for individual work, Rezidenca 17 actively organizes community events and capacity-building programs, fostering collaboration and skill development among its diverse community. Project Space 17 operates as a co-working space during the day and transforms into a cultural hub in the evening, hosting diverse events such as artist talks, music performances, workshops, masterclasses, poetry nights, and feminist discussions.

OFF-Biennale Budapest started ten years ago as a grassroots initiative providing a platform for progressive, critical culture in order to strengthen the local independent art scene. Since 2014, OFF-Biennale has been organizing regular art events in a biennial format based on wide-ranging collaboration between local stakeholders and international partners. Through its manifold activities, OFF-Biennale aims to contribute to the public discourse by introducing urgent social, political and ecological issues with the intention of enhancing the culture of democracy by means of art. OFF-Biennale is currently in the preparation phase of its next edition, which will take place in May–June 2025. The central idea behind the upcoming biennale is to reclaim notions that have been hijacked by the populist right-wing discourse, such as security, safety, or peace. Instead of top-down concepts that proclaim autocracy, closed borders, and xenophobia, OFF-Biennale presents critical theories and social practices through art that offer other models based on trust, sharing, and solidarity. With a concentrated presence in Budapest, the biennale will comprise projects involving Romani people, children, and the LGBTQAI+ community as well as many local partners of the cultural scene. Parallel to the program anchored locally, OFF will collaborate on international projects with partners in Europe and beyond, helping the Hungarian scene expand by bringing its artists, curators, and content onto the international stage as well as facilitating an exchange of ideas between the two contexts.

The program of < rotor > Centre for Contemporary Art focuses on artistic works that explicitly deal with the social, political, ecological, and economic questions of the present day. It produces and presents mainly visual art, provides essential content for discussion, and mediates contemporary art to a broad public. Promoting cooperation and networked action are essential elements of the < rotor > philosophy. This concerns networking efforts within the art field but also means acting beyond the boundaries of art. The search for satisfactory methods of collaboration and possibilities of participation in artistic processes for the public in general or for specific target audiences is another main focus. For < rotor >, the public space is an important setting to make art happen. Leaving the boundaries of the art space actively brings people into contact with art and thus expands the audience. Since it was founded in 1999, < rotor > has maintained a dense network of organizations and artists in many European countries and beyond. Particularly strong ties have existed from the outset with Central and Southeastern Europe.

Biennale Matter of Art is a project of the initiative for contemporary art tranzit.cz, which was founded in 2002 as part of the Central European network tranzit.org. The first edition of the biennale was held in 2020 in Prague, and it has since become established as a space for voices and perspectives that are scarce in the dominant culture. As part of its various projects, tranzit.cz has been involved in a long-term project with the art group Laundry Collective, whose members are women who have experienced homelessness. It has also supported artist and radical social worker Barbora Bažantová in her work with the Romani youth in a large Romani settlement in the village of Janov in northern Czech Republic. The upcoming edition of the Biennale Matter of Art will take place in Prague from June 14 to September 29, 2024. Curated by Katalin Erdődi and Aleksei Borisionok, the exhibition will explore the topics of social change in rural areas and the history and futures of worker resistance, highlighting forgotten stories of social unrest and underrepresented micro-histories of sociopolitical transformation in Central and Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

La Escocesa is an artist-led contemporary visual arts organization and residency space managed collectively through the artists’ association Associació d’Idees EMA. La Escocesa focuses on supporting artists and cultural agents, offering workspaces and resources for the development of their projects. It provides studios and workshops for over 30 resident artists, alongside a free public program of events, open calls, and training opportunities. As a space inhabited by the artistic community, La Escocesa is active not only in the production and creation of works but also in the common generation of knowledge, networks of care, and new ways of building and practicing cultural institutions. The associative nature of the center enables the active participation of the artists, generating a horizontal collective structure through which the center is managed. As a feminist institution, the values of La Escocesa ​​arise from an intersectional, emancipatory, cooperative, and inclusive position, which advocates for sustainability, experimentation, collaboration, and the development of community artistic projects.

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