“From the Aesthetic of Administration”

Centrum
Reuterstr. 7
August 11, 2017–September 17, 2017

View of “From the Aesthetic of Administration,” 2017.

How do you envisage the aesthetics of administration? Early morning light, a wood-veneer desk, perhaps tea in a chipped mug? Conceptual artist Joshua Schwebel seeks to examine art from a structural perspective for this exhibition, which could be mistaken for a dowdy office. The show began as an email (a copy of which is pinned to the wall here), sent by Schwebel to Berlin’s arts-funding administration, the Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa (Senate Administration for Culture and Europe), inviting its staff to produce artworks for his show. He received only two positive responses, from Pauline Püschel (who studied cultural management) and Anne Wesolek (a trained art historian).

Püschel’s ironic sculptural installation—Limits (all works 2017)—asks viewers to sit at a desk (sourced from the senate’s basement) and use a computer program that reproduces the daily processes of a funding administrator. If you press a button “agreeing” to fund a project, you can then write a speech about why, and print and file it alphabetically. For her part, Wesolek took a series of photographs, “Inside Brunnenstraße,” depicting her colleagues’ offices, revealing the inner cavity of an organization that is usually invisible to the public and mainly comprises white walls, files, mugs, stacks of paper, artworks, posters, graph-paper charts, and pens—exactly what you might expect, bringing the stereotype to life.

Interrogating the value of art in its various dimensions—from market potential to funding viability, or how it comes to bear on labor—Schwebel encourages a critical reflection on the role that civic bodies play in what can actually be produced and the aesthetic signifiers of a bureaucracy that often sculpts artists’ livelihoods.

— Louisa Elderton