Demokratische Kulturarbeit. Kristina Leko Democratic Cultural Work

Art outreach scholarship

1 August–31 October 2013

Art Outreach
Event Series

Location(s): NGBK, Oranienstraße 25

Grant Holders

Kristina Leko

The experimental art outreach programme that the Croatian-German artist Kristina Leko is developing in the frame of her scholarship for the nGbK examines the political and social potentials of art and its mediation.

Each Wednesday from 4 to 7pm, the artist invites interested visitors to an “Open Art Outreach Office” in the spaces of the nGbK on the first floor of Oranienstr. 25. Together with the visitors and members of the nGbK she will develop a format that – consistently participatory – examines the politically motivated endeavours from the early years of the nGbK, which was founded in 1969. A large number of exhibitions and publications in the 1970s transported specific ideas of the social “functions of fine art”. Keywords of a Marxist critique of late capitalism were “cultural democratisation” and “aesthetic activity”. The latter was explicitly not limited to the so-called fine arts but expanded to include “all areas of reality”. The point of reference of the AG Grundlagenforschung (Study Group Basic Research), responsible for central projects of the nGbK in the 1970s, was always the working class. In the publication “Theorie und Praxis demokratischer Kulturarbeit” (Theory and Practice of Democratic Cultural Work) from 1975 they state: “Before a democratic culture can be established on a broad basis, the cultural workers must recognise and experience in practical cooperation the interests of those who create value in our society.” (p. 5)

Kristina Leko has now made it a task to critically recapitulate the concerns and analyses of the nGbK’s historical projects. What is to be understood as “democratic cultural work” today? What marks have the projects of the 1970s left behind in the political/social sphere? How have the social conditions in Western and Eastern Europe developed? How have the concepts of artistic work and work dedicated to mediating art changed? What is art’s social mission today and how is its current self-understanding articulated? What demands are made on art/mediation and who are the addressees of present-day, critical mediation work? Which economies must be addressed or changed? What about the social taking into service of art? From which position is critique expressed? How is it affirmed/neutralised? What can art outreach achieve? Where does the nGbK stand today?

With a view to a present-day “theory and practice of democratic cultural work”, Leko’s art outreach programme examines a number of different formats in regard to their suitability: interventions, discussions, reading groups, workshops etc. “Neighbourhood Meetings” in the current exhibitions of the nGbK aim to involve the local populations and supplement the activities of the “Open Art Outreach Office”.

Kristina Leko ranks among the prominent proponents of an art oriented towards social interaction and participation. She studied fine art, philosophy and Indology in Zagreb and received her M.A. at the Institute for Art in Context at the University of the Arts, Berlin. Leko has presented important solo shows in New York, Graz, Bonn, Vienna and Zagreb and participated in group exhibitions in Germany, the United States, Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands. She has received numerous scholarships and art awards including the P.S.1-MoMA ISP Residency (2002-2003), the work scholarship of the Kunstfonds, Bonn (2010), the art award Europas Zukunft (2004), the prize of the Croatian Sculpture Triennial (2009) and the prize of the Croatian AICA (2009). Kristina Leko is scholarship holder at the nGbK until August 2014.


  • Open Art Outreach Office (Wednesdays 4 – 7 pm)
  • Neighbourhood Meetings on site