CAMILLA GRAFF JUNIOR
Crossing Context Neukölln
Camilla Graff Junior is a Danish artist, living in Berlin. She is one of 23 associate curators for MPA-B 2013, with a curatorial project entitled ‘Crossing Context’, which examines the notion of ‘intervention through artistic research’, and presents a series of 11 works by artists and activists from Denmark and France. The works range from live performance to visual art, sound and video, and are loosely gathered under the themes of ‘identity’ and ‘gender’. We were lucky enough to meet with Camilla in a sunny Berlin park outside the Kunstraum t27 gallery where much of her program takes place. We were interested to find out more about ‘Crossing Context’, and about how Camilla views her role as both artist and curator. Listen to the full recording of this interview in the park below.
“One of the themes this year is gender… there are a lot of female artists that I don’t actually name as female artists. For me, that’s how you actually empower female artists.” Camilla Graff Junior, 2013.
For the past two evenings, we have joined Camilla Graff Junior at Kunstraum t27 to experience the diverse work she has brought together for ‘Crossing Context’.
On Wednesday 8th May, we attended a post-workshop installation and discussion for ‘Gender and the City’ at Kunstraum t27 as part of MPA-B 2013. ‘Gender and the City’ was a five day workshop run by the artist C’est Beau Le Pouvoir. Below is the MPA-B programme description of the project.
‘Urban-designer Pascale Lapalud and sociologist Chris Blache take their stating point from the fact that the city is, for the most part, male created and male occupied. During a six-day workshop they will invite all interested to go out and investigate the public space of Neukölln from a gender -perspective. Parallels will be drawn to the 20th arrondissement in Paris, where a workshop took place in the end of February. The aim is to look at the similarities and differences between the two neighbourhoods, share experiences and both collectively and individually, introduce a change by inventing new strategies for female players within the space of the city.’
“Before we can talk about gender we have to talk about poverty, about race, about culture” Post-workshop discussion participant
During the workshop, the women used counting as an attempt to hold onto something factual, for example, their investigations revealed that of 195 Berlin U-Bahn stations, only 10 were named after women. They also counted everyday occurrences such as the number of women on bikes, and the number of single men with children. Despite this attempt to engage with statistics, there seemed to be a general acknowledgement of the inadequacy of this method as a means of understanding the deeper reality of how gender functions in the city.
The workshop seemed to be an opportunity to open up discussions around gender and the city, and to raise questions as opposed to answering them. The exhibition and post-workshop discussion focused largely on the impossibility of neutrality, and challenging our natural bias.
“It’s going from seeing what you think you see, to actually looking.” Post-workshop discussion participant
Listening to the discussion as someone who had not taken part in the workshop was an interesting perspective. I could not help but count, as the women had done during the workshop, the ratio of women to men in the gallery. I counted 17 women and 3 men.