A Conversation between Andrea Scrima and Anike Joyce Sadiq
The following conversation took place from November 2021 to February 2022 via e-mail in reaction to a general meeting of the Villa Romana Association that took place on October 28, 2021 in Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin. The authors participated in this meeting in their function as members, having been actively involved for two years in a group of artists that had formed in response to a new funding situation. When there was no longer any way to prevent a simultaneous changeover in directors, the group sought to at least preserve the Villa Romana as a place created by artists for artists and to ensure that the general direction of the program established under Angelika Stepken be continued.
The Villa Romana was founded in 1905 as a German art association in Florence. In addition to an exhibition program and numerous collaborations with artists as well as with art and cultural institutions both local and international, the Villa Romana Prize is awarded each year to four artists or collectives from Germany in the form of a ten-month residency and grant.
This conversation attempts, from the authors’ perspective, to reconstruct, contextualize, and archive the discussions that occurred between artist members and the board and the course these took over time. It poses questions about membership and the extent of agency it allows, and inquires into the role artists play in shaping institutional structures. Financial and political dependencies, the seeming openness of a diversity-based policy toward art and culture, and the (re)distribution of the real and symbolic capital that becomes legitimized by a non-profit status are subjects of investigation. Read more »
I left Florence exactly two years ago, a week after the first Corona lockdowns went into effect on February 22, 2020; I returned to the city for the first time yesterday, just as Russian attacks on Ukraine shifted into full gear. Back in Berlin, the war felt suddenly very close: we share a peculiarly intense, at times numinous northern continental winter light with our neighbors to the East; we are united by weather fronts, massive drifts of leaden, seemingly immobile nimbostratus clouds inching slowly across the North European Plain through Poland and Belarus and drifting farther east and south, eventually yielding to the frigid Siberian High and the weather patterns of the Black Sea Lowland. Moving eastward, the clement maritime climate of the western plains gradually gives way to harsher temperatures: summers are hotter, winters bitter cold. The day before yesterday, as over 100,000 people gathered in Berlin between the Victory Column and the Brandenburg Gate to protest the Russian invasion, the sky was sunny and clear, and although there was still a frigid bite in the air, the snow covering the streets of Lviv and Kharkiv and Kiev had either passed us by or was blown into Ukraine from the northeast. Martius, named after the Roman god of war, marked the beginning of the ancient calendar year and the resumption of military campaigns following a winter hiatus. Today, on the first of this ominous month, a forty-mile-long Russian convoy is approaching Kiev. It’s just above freezing there; precipitation is in the forecast for the next several days, expected to give way to subzero temperatures. People will be bombed out of their homes and forced to flee in the freezing rain; later, the slush on the rubble-strewn roads will turn to ice, making their journey on foot even more arduous. Read more »