What's hot? A question that we might hope to find resolved at every biennial, art fair or art week that we attend. But what's hot today might be over by tomorrow. And: who decides what's hot, anyway? Yvonne Reiners, a curator and researcher running the performance series Performing Encounters that re-imagines formats of encounter and discussion; and Tina Sauerländer, a curator and writer, who has been organising numerous exhibitions under the label peer to space, jointly organised the upcoming Pecha Kucha Art Night at Haus am Lützowplatz in Berlin. The event will ask this very question amidst a couple of professionals from different disciplines, such as the art historian Annika von Taube, the art dealer Volker Diehl or the publisher Uta Grosenick. I asked the two organisers, why they felt the need to pose this question.
Anna-Lena Werner: Yvonne and Tina, you both organise the upcoming Pecha Kucha Art Night in Berlin with the title “What’s Hot?!”. Why did you feel the need to ask this question?
Yvonne Reiners: When Tina came up with the idea, to organize a "Pecha Kucha Art Night", I was thrilled the very first minute! I knew the Pecha Kucha format from some half-public art events and learned that it originated from sales events. But as I got to know it, it was an amusing and extensive format to mediate knowledge. We discussed for a long time, to finally come up with "What´s hot?!" – which means a kind of listing, a - as - much - open - as -possible -format for wishes, disses, love letters and complaints.
Tina Sauerländer: We want to give a platform for topics which might not be widely discussed in any media but may be even more important. We told the speakers to talk about things they consider important in the art today and why!
ALW: From the twelve speakers that you invited, only one is an artist. How did you choose who should currently evaluate ‘What’s hot?!’
YR : With the PECHA KUCHA ART NIGHT we want to introduce different fields of work within Berlin’s art scene. We want to reveal many kinds of involvement in art. Of course, the artists play an important role, but we also want to introduce curators, journalists, collectors, teachers and also for example the great project of SOS edition, because we don't think that many people have heard of it so far.
ALW: Trends come and go. What is hot today can be boring by tomorrow. Have the art market and art institutions increased their speed, such as the fashion industry?
YR : Sometimes I have this feeling. Exhibitions as mega-events, gallery sell-outs and hyper circulation seem to be our daily art business. But in my daily work as curator and researcher, I am consistently surprised, that pre-modern and modern themes and questions come up again and again; it seems as if through re-enacting and re-staging almost forgotten artworks are being re-discovered.
TS: I feel an increase of speed in general, which I ascribe to globalisation and the Internet. It became harder to plan an exhibition a year in advance and not be outdated with the topic then. So it may be a struggle for a bigger institution, which plans several years in advance. Maybe the increased pace requires a rethinking about contemporary art exhibitions in general?
ALW: The Pecha Kucha style is a very fast lecture format, allowing speakers 6 minutes and 40 seconds for 20 slides. It’s still new to German conferences – why did you choose this format?
TS : As a sales-event-format, Pecha Kucha somehow fits to the increased speed of this market-related business. But Pecha Kucha is also a great alternative to share knowledge and to communicate explicitly – also speaking in terms of the increased speed of our time in general that reduces the audiences’ span of attention. Pecha Kucha produces diversified and thought-provoking-impulses in a short period of time. We think that this format opens up the separation between a scientific symposium on the one hand and an elitist art exhibition on the other, enabling the speakers to communicate in an authentic way.
From 19.30 -22h
The event on Facebook
Left: Yvonne Reiners, photo © Benno Zindel / right: Tina Sauerlaender, photo © Melina Volkmann