The profound political changes that occurred in Europe after 1989—so vividly symbolized by the fall of the Berlin Wall—made Berlin a particularly attractive place for cultural producers to live and work. Over the following decades, many visual artists were drawn to the city by the promise of new opportunities in this rapidly transforming urban environment, which continues to exert a tremendous fascination. A growing number of applications for BKP Award Grants in the field of Visual Arts made it necessary to modify the selection process: since 1992, the fellows in this section have been nominated and selected by an independent jury.
As a site of spatial and social negotiation, Berlin has become the adopted home of visual artists from all over the world. A significant number of international artists who came to Berlin as recipients of BKP Award Grants during the 1990s and 2000s went on to establish themselves within the city’s vibrant cultural scenes and continue to make important contributions to artistic developments here. Among the former fellows who have chosen to base themselves in Berlin, either temporarily or permanently, are Tacita Dean, Mariana Castillo Deball, Jimmie Durham, Douglas Gordon, Bethan Huws, Dolores Zinny and Juan Maidagan, Matt Mullican, Emeka Ogboh, Willem de Rooij, Anri Sala, and Paola Yacoub.
Since the 2010s, the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program, and above all the Visual Arts section, has placed particular emphasis on encouraging artists and other creative partners from the Global South to become involved with the program. Whereas in the period from 1963, when the Artists-in-Berlin Program was founded in West Berlin, through to 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down, the motivation for addressing issues of internationalization was primarily political, today our specific aim is to facilitate and support creative initiatives and forms of cultural exchange that are independent of—and often situated outside—the established Western art world system with its market-led dynamics. Elaborating a global perspective on current sociopolitical discourses and taking diverse cultural contexts into consideration are factors that increasingly determine the fellows’ vocational profiles and the projects they undertake—and this is clearly reflected in the program’s nomination and selection processes. The commercialization of Berlin as a cultural capital and the associated mechanisms of displacement and standardization also have an influence on the activities of the program and affect how our fellows engage with the city and its various communities.
Since its founding in 1978, the daadgalerie has been the hub of the presence and public encounters of fellows in the field of Visual Arts, as well as those in the other sections, whereby exploring transdisciplinary practices in different formats has become a key aspect of individual positioning in recent years. It is also becoming increasingly important to establish strong networks with local partner institutions, creative practitioners, universities, and academies of art; working collaboratively allows participants to make the best use of limited resources and to preserve their autonomous effectiveness—also beyond the boundaries of Berlin. Within this context, the founding principle of the Artists-in-Berlin Program—to provide a meeting place for cultural producers—gains a new kind of relevance, while the institution and those involved with it are presented with a new set of challenges and tasks.