The MdbK [next;raum], established in 2022, invites new opportunities for participation and dialogue. Together with actors from urban society, the collections, their presentation and mediation are to be critically questioned.
Upcoming: MdbK [next;raum] #02
After last year's MdbK [next;raum] #01 negotiated the topic of Gender_Gender in MdbK, a new group has been meeting since January 2023 in MdbK [next;raum] #02 on the topic of Unlearning | Learning. How does one learn to forget outdated knowledge? How can future exhibitions and museum processes be connected to unlearning processes?
As part of the collaboration, 10 workshops will take place throughout the year. The participants dedicate themselves to various Unlearn aspects - criteria and concepts such as class, racism, discrimination, but also aspects of the museum are to be analyzed, reflected upon and "unlearned". Together they will search for solution-oriented core questions and interdisciplinary allies. The group meets colleagues, reform educators, authors, activists, everyday survivors, social workers, and resonances in their own life stories.
The museum's internal project group includes the director, a curator, a cultural educator, and an arts educator.
The [next;raum] has dedicated its exhibition scenography (implementation phase from September 2023) to the theme of the garden in order to make Verlernen|Unlearn tangible. It works in the middle of the exhibition spaces as a place of invitation and field of experimentation for analogies to the theme. It collaborates with animate nature, allotments and garden cultures. What do Old Fruit Varieties and Old Masters, fences and pennants, showcases and abandoned plots tell us? What does permaculture taste like, and how can plum jam help make museum decisions more joyful and democratic?
Theme day Unlearn Museum
In #02, the MdbK has dealt - not only in exhibitions - with Unlearn topics such as body knowledge, collecting senses, compensatory relationships, degrees of maturity and seating possibilities. The theme day on November 25, 2023 is aimed at all those who are interested in artistic, social, ecological, political, and scientific Unlearn impulses and would like to enter into conversation with the MdbK about them. The program includes performances, talks, music, installations, guided tours of the MdbK [next;raum] and a panel discussion with guests. Afterwards, there will be the opportunity to participate in a collaborative meal at Café Treff.
The MdbK [next;raum], located in the room group of the Renaissance Collection presentation on the second floor, invites new possibilities for participation and dialogue. Together with actors from the urban society, the collections, their presentation and mediation are to be critically questioned:
What attitudes does the museum convey? Who helps to shape the museum? How can the museum's collection be expanded in terms of diversity?
The MdbK [next;raum] is funded in the program 360° - Fund for Cultures of the New Urban Society of the German Federal Cultural Foundation and supported by the feminist library MONAliesA Leipzig.
The Leipzig Museum Concept 2030 defines museums as "mediators of social change". Inclusion and participation are highlighted as central concerns. Thus, the paper adopted by the city council states: "With regard to mediation work, no programs or projects are offered for diverse target groups, but changing interest groups are granted spaces for action to offer programs in the museums themselves. For this purpose, rooms in the exhibition area could be made available to them on a permanent basis. [...] The visitor-oriented museums cultivate the connection to social reality - they are special, but not aloof places." (Excerpt from the Museum Concept 2030 of December 2019, points 2.2. "Transculturality" u. 2.3. "Museums as places of active social discourse")
Against this background, a team and mission statement process took place at the Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig in 2021 and 2022. In our mission statement we stated: "Works of art stimulate discourse, interaction and education. Participatory offerings, events and exhibitions are the foundations of our institution, which invites participation. We take up socially relevant topics and develop formats for active participation."
As part of a recontextualization of the collection, the MdbK has opened a place with little hierarchy: the MdbK [next;raum]. It is a 60sqm space through which actors from different parts of the urban society can contribute themselves. Here, the city and the museum come together and develop content on topics relevant to the times. The MdbK [next;raum] provides event impulses and initiates interventions for change processes. The focus is thus on the presentation of a personal context. The original use as an exhibition space on the 2nd floor is abandoned in favor of a laboratory, workshop and event area. In this way, the museum does not only behave as an institution of knowledge transfer, but it wants to learn from the perspectives of the urban societ
The project is intended as an experimental field within the presentation of the collection. It invites a broader engagement with art outside the art historical canon. Visitors become participants and can thus have a stronger cognitive, affective, and actional impact on the institution as a local public. This form of project work contributes to the MdbK's integration of important premises such as sustainability, participation, and involvement into its museum work. People from different backgrounds are invited to realize their individual references and own perspectives on specific questions in the context of the art museum. Their own processing strategies are intended to contribute to the fact that other visitors will also have the confidence to adopt new perspectives. In this way, marginalized perspectives, un-exhibited, uncollected, and unrepresented questions, themes, and artworks can gain relevance.
#01 – Unterm Rock
The MdbK [next;raum] started with the project Unterm Rock. Reflections on gender issues, which deals with the representation and reception of gender and gender constructions in the collection of the MdbK. In the process, we invited associations, initiatives, and individuals from Leipzig whose perspectives have been underrepresented in the MdbK to date. Anyone who was interested and willing to commit to continuous participation over eight workshop dates could participate. There was no application or exclusion procedure, which was greatly appreciated by the participants. The cooperation was remunerated with an expense allowance. The aim was to deal with the images and questions in the group, in discussions and visual reflections - supplemented by background information provided by the MdbK or via literature provided by the Leipzig library MONAliesA. One success was and is that the space with its visible results has also questioned attitudes and stimulated discussions within the museum. As part of the project work, the MdbK Gender Day took place on November 12, 2022.
"I have never experienced the examination of queer-feminist topics as it takes place here at MdbK in any other museum. In particular, the intermingling and disruption of eras and themes as well as thought patterns is extremely profitable and inspiring. The interaction of the artists with the art also leads to more interactive thinking/viewing for me. I think it's GREAT & wish for more of it!"
"As a woman, I get trepidation and nausea and want to scream out loud."
"Creating new images. Invite BIPoC flinta*. Stop being exclusive. Acknowledge and use/make room for own positions of power/privilege. Listen to yourself, only then is it possible to listen to others. PROVIDE SPACE."
"It should be for everyone. However, most images are often sexist, women are portrayed too weakly."
"Why is art, at least felt, only liked in the educated bourgeoisie -> how can art be made accessible to all classes? -> And why should one always only see art in museums and not make it? Why not let guests design the big gray walls? Let's become part of the art. Lack of understanding because the representation does not correspond to the breadth of reality, no erotic feelings because this "ideal" seems cold & inanimate; the reduction annoys me."
"I believe that a museum should be quasi-opinion-free. The role of the museum is to exhibit the works of art as value-free as possible. It doesn't have to make sure to present different perspectives; these come with each visitor. Each viewer has his or her own perspective on the art and gets involved to the extent that he or she allows his or her inner self to be influenced by the works."
"We are shaped by what and who we see. Whether in a museum or in 'real life.' I see many successful men and token women, often titled as such. I also feel in MDBK's current exhibition that these great artists* are being used to draw attention to the issue. I would so love to see them in an unframed context. Hopefully that will be possible soon."
"To be honest, it shouldn't be made into such a huge drama. I've never, in terms of art, not felt equal. It's the individual perspectives of the museums and artists, I can't influence that. I either like it or I don't, my decision, whether it's appropriate for me personally or not."
"A "neighborhood meeting" during the conception phase of new exhibitions would be exciting. I imagine a picnic or breakfast together at a long table at MDBK, where people can exchange ideas about the planned exhibitions with the curators, art mediators, etc. (open to all)."
"It should be possible to add comments to the works; there should be more discussions about the exhibitions, regular projects like the next_raum."
The MdbK regularly deals with socio-political topics in its exhibitions and collection presentations. People were explicitly invited to the MdbK [next;raum] who were interested in the topic - without any prerequisite regarding their educational background and without questioning their affinity to the visual arts. The exchange between the participants themselves and with the museum staff was central. The result of the process also gives rise to criticism (cf. e.g. Kreuzer 11/2022), which we are dealing with. Above all, it shows that we need to further explain the experiment MdbK [next;raum]. For instance, it critically asks: What is actually allowed to happen in the museum space? Who is allowed to interpret and speak there? Which concepts of knowledge and art do we allow in the museum?
Beyond exhibition formats, we also offer experimental opportunities to engage with art. Together with interested individuals and initiatives as well as with visitors, we explore alternative levels of interpretation and allow new spaces of participation to emerge. We recognize the different backgrounds of life, knowledge and experience of each individual as expertise in their own right, which is valuable and enriches the MdbK. Therefore, we want to listen to these voices in the institutional context and give them space.
Without a doubt, many scholarly topics worthy of exploration arise from the field of tension between art and society. In the MdbK [next;raum], however, it is first and foremost a matter of addressing current questions that arise from one's own subjective encounters with the MdbK's visual media.
Where artworks and collection history are supposed to form a kind of dignity formula, for which an unbiased discourse is perceived as a shameful approach, exclusion mechanisms are invoked. When museums are initially expected to exhibit authoritative knowledge, opportunities are lost.
Allowing and shaping voice can come with inadequacies and unfinishedness; that's what process work is. Museums can be unfinished places. It is no longer exclusively a matter of conducting discourses with those sub-publics that determine these very discourses, but also of entering into conversation with other parts of the public. It is about seeking the contemporary not only in the topicality of academic knowledge, but in the topicality of access to the institution.
How do we come together?
 Supported by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes - 360° Fonds für Kulturen der neuen Stadtgesellschaft, the house presents impulses, among others, on transconfessional influences on European pictorial tradition (Luther and Abba Mikael) and on the representation of body (image) and reception history of ethnic markings (Why born enslaved?). The museum's own collection history, especially the representation of so-called FLINTA artists, recently came to the fore in the exhibition Unterschätzt. Female Artists in Leipzig around 1900, 12.5.-3.10.2022). And also in the context of exhibitions, we emphasize in a special way questions such as those that were the focus of [next;raum]: For example, in the show of works by Harry Hachmeister, in which the fluidity of contemporary constructions of gender was a theme (Harry Hachmeister. From Disco to Disco, 3.2.-8.5.22).
Gender Day at the MdbK
This year, the MdbK has dealt with issues such as gender equality, queerness and role conceptions - not only in exhibitions. The Gender Day on 12 November was aimed at all those who would like to find out more about and enter into conversation with the MdbK about them. The programme included performances, talks and guided tours at the MdbK [next;raum], a panel discussion with guests and a collaborative dinner at Café Treff.