Five questions for Silke Wittig
Interview by Jakub Charousek
1) What should our reader know about the Video-Forum of Neuer Berliner Kunstverein?
An artists’ and cultural producers’ initiative founded in 1971 as a platform to view, produce and collect video art works, the Video-Forum is the oldest collection of video art in Germany, and nowadays with more than 1,600 works it is also one of the largest in Europe.
(c) n.b.k. Video-Forum, 2016. Photo: Jens Ziehe
2) How has the Video-Forum of Neuer Berliner Kunstverein evolved since the 1970s?
The collection has been growing continuously since its foundation, and it is still expanding, as the n.b.k. purchases and co-produces works on a regular basis. Its scope reflects the developments and particularities of different time periods, with a particular focus on Fluxus, feminist video, and contemporary and historical video art from Berlin, as well as works that take various approaches to reflecting on the medium itself.
3) If you were to choose some really important and unique footage from the collection, what would it be?
That is not easy, there are many works I could mention now! But if I had to decide I would spontaneously pick two early co-productions: Time Pieces by Allan Kaprow, which was made from the documentation of a happening that he realized for the n.b.k. project Aktionen der Avantgarde (ADA 1) in 1973, and Wold Vostell’s first longer 16 mm film Desastres from 1972, which marks an artistic milestone in his engagement with the social state of exception and its translation into a New Realism in art.
4) What is your approach to curating art and how do you perceive the presence of women in this field?
Having a background in Fine Arts and Media, I aim to first of all comprehend the artist’s approach in developing and realising a work. I see my role as a curator mainly in supporting the process of sharpening ideas, reflecting approaches and finding the right setting to meet the content of the work. Regarding the presence of women in this field, as in other fields of art and culture I see a discrepancy between the very high number of women graduating in curatorial studies and art history and the number of women actually working in this field in higher positions. Nevertheless it is difficult to generalise, for instance I positively observed a very strong presence of successful women in the field of curating in the former Yugoslavian states, where I have repeatedly worked during the past years.
5) What are the future plans of the Video-Forum of Neuer Berliner Kunstverein?
Apart from expanding the collection and co-producing new works, the Video-Forum is taking up a number of invitations by major art and cultural institutions in Europe, Asia, North and South America to give lectures and screenings of its holdings, and it is also currently expanding its own educational programme by collaborating with different universities in Berlin. For updates on all forthcoming activities, go to the Video-Forum website, where a list of all the artists and video works in the collection can be found.