A Collaborative Effort Towards Radical Change
Artists’ ideas and concepts of dealing with the climate crisis are at the center of Montag Modus’s series Klimata.
What role can art play in these times that scream for radical reforms? This is the overarching question of the Montag Modus’s series Klimata. With this year-long performance project, the curatorial collective MMpraxis – in collaboration with the Collegium Hungaricum Berlin (CHB) and together with Hungarian and Berlin-based artists – explores ideas on the current global changes.
Dániel Kovács, Jasna Layes Vinovrški and Léna Szirmay-Kalos
Curators and artists, MMpraxis
Montag Modus was initiated in 2015 by curators Kata Krasznahorkai and Léna Szirmay-Kalos at the CHB to present the works of Budapest- and Berlin-based dance and performance artists together, in the frame of one evening. For the first time, CHB has involved the local art and dance community in its regular program. The format of a Montag Modus event is best described as a group exhibition of live art that enables a structure where individual works can co-exist together. Since its conception, Montag Modus has been intended as a platform for artistic encounters and experimentation by offering artists one-week long on-site residencies leading up to the event.
Experimenting with curatorial roles
In the following three years, Léna continued curating and organizing the series. This rich experience and the positive feedback of the artist communities encouraged her to start experimenting with curatorial and organizational roles as well. To bring in new perspectives in the structure, Léna invited two colleagues with whom she had already collaborated in the past – art historian Dániel Kovács, former CHB Program Director, along with choreographer and former co-organiser of the 3 AM series Jasna Layes Vinovrški – to take over the series for one year and work as a team on the project Klimata. Together, the three of us founded the curatorial platform MMpraxis. This allows us to continue Montag Modus as an independent series and to collaborate with CHB and other institutions such as Flutgraben e.V. as equal partners.
As we know by now, the climate crisis that we are experiencing is a direct consequence of modern age human activities. When it came to Klimata we agreed to use Bruno Latour’s definition and understood climate as _“a wide range of relationships between humans and their material living conditions”. In order to address the complexity of the subject, we decided to organize five subsequent events, each with a different approach, that explore current global ecological, political and social developments.
We see these five events within the Klimata series as one research process, in close exchange with the artists and authors. The first event, “Touch and Go” in March 2019, explored the ephemera of the digital age and their impacts on our consumption of relationships and communication across intimacies and distances. The second event in May, under the title “This is Not About You”, focused on the relationship between human and non-human entities. In the third event in July, “The Giant Arrived”, we addressed the most urgent issue: the ecological crisis. By confronting the problem of our impact on the environment we posed the question: What role can art play when climate change is rapidly altering the world around us? The 4th chapter, “We Solemnly Swear“ in October, takes the topic of civic and political responsibility as a point of departure and gives an impulse for a revolution-to-come. In December, the final event “Coping Strategies” looks for solutions to overcome mental states such as fear and indifference in order to be able to think and act in the direction of change.
We are not only curious about how artists in their diverse practices are dealing with current difficulties and dangers: we also wanted to explore different ways of organizing and curating, so that we can try to respond to these pressing issues on a curatorial and production level. In this spirit, we are investigating what collaboration between artists, curators and institutions actually means and in what way these relations can be challenged. Until now, this enabled us to work on a much closer collaborative level with everyone involved than we might in a typical production situation. By watching and discussing each other’s rehearsals and having communal dinners during the mini residency week, Montag Modus creates a micro-community each time. Preparation week is crucial, as we understand the event as a collaborative effort and not as a showcase of different works.
Also unique to the Klimata series is the textual contribution to each event. In this context, we invite a scholar or writer to respond to the given topic. Together, we look how this text can be performed during the event, rather than be simply printed in the evening program. In this way, it can co-exist in its particularity with other artistic works. During our latest event “The Giant Arrived”, we introduced a discursive format in which we encouraged the audience to join the conversation on the subject matter. By continuously experimenting with new formats, we are searching for different ways to involve the artists and the audience with Klimata and provide a space for exchange on the daunting fictions and realities of our times.