Four months in Berlin

Date posted: February 25, 2011

Live guide Catherine Stephens-Ward talks about her work placement

Live guide Catherine Stephens-Ward talks about her work placement
Before beginning my work placement with Tereza de Arruda at T & A Art Projects I spent September at a language school in Berlin getting a working knowledge of German.  Tereza was away for the first two weeks of my placement, but she recommended that I used my time to ‘immerse myself’ in Berlin’s art scene. What an opportunity – it was the weekend that the international contemporary arts fairs opened and I had passes to attend. Over four days I went to Art Forum, Preview Berlin and ABC where I crammed in as much as possible. The rest of my days were spent researching and visiting galleries/museums/art spaces and private collections and I found that I saw a lot in a short amount of time.

I was based at Tereza’s office on Augustrasse in central Mitte, Berlin’s most up-market gallery area. She got me working on several exhibitions, all in the early stages of planning. I contributed to the development of an exhibition on Indian art – classical to contemporary, Tereza’s most ambitious project to date. I researched artists, artworks and private/public collections and wrote texts on the artists and their work which were included in the exhibition proposal. I also produced research for exhibitions on Sigmar Polke amongst others and the history of Documenta. In addition I translated exhibition proposals from Portuguese into English, produced photographic summaries of previous exhibitions and researched online marketing tools for exhibition promotion. I also handled some of Tereza’s correspondence, organised meetings and attended a press conference on the forthcoming Documenta.

During the weeks Tereza and I would make many visits to exhibition openings, artist studios and to art professionals. It was very interesting to compare studios in Berlin to those that I had visited in the UK and to meet artists of various nationalities and backgrounds. We visited the artist duo Manon Awst and Benjamin Walther who were on a residency at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien. We went to Dresden for the opening ofEberhard Havekost’s exhibition at the Künsthalle and to the after show party. One weekend a group of Welsh artists from Swansea and Cardiff visited Berlin and staged an exhibition at the Freis Museum and I assisted with the curation and gave the artists a tour of the city.

I gained a very broad understanding of Berlin’s vibrant art scene and I also learnt about the art scenes in countries that I knew very little about such as Brazil, China and India. By working on large scale international exhibitions I developed my skills in research and translation. I also gained an understanding of what it is like to work as a freelance curator and the associated challenges and problems. My time in Berlin was very inspiring as it is a place imbued with creative energies where possibilities seem endless. I hope that I can keep this energy alive to invest it into new projects back home in Cardiff.

Through working as a Live Guide during Artes Mundi 4, Catherine Stephens Ward met Berlin-based curator Tereza de Arruda whilst she was in Wales attending Artes Mundi Encounters professional symposium as part of a Visual Arts Curators Visit, organised by Wales Arts International.  Their meeting led to a four month placement as a curatorial assistant at T & A Art Projects in Berlin. The placement had the support of the Leonardo scheme through ECTARC – European Centre for Training & Regional Co-operation.

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