‘PROTOZONES’ as transferable concept for producing process-based exhibitions: A reflection on curatorial work at Shedhalle Zurich (2020-2025)

PROTOZONE 2020–2025 is an exhibition format developed for Shedhalle Zürich by Thea Reifler and Phila Bergmann. It places the notion of multi-disciplinary process-based art at the center of curatorial work. Process-based art is a term used for this curatorial concept as a guideline that emphasizes the value of artistic processes, practices and their unfolding possibilities, uncertainties and surprises.

Phila Bergmanns thesis seeks to document, analyze and reflect on this curatorial approach at Shedhalle. It will focus on the application of PROTOZONES as a concept which structured five years’ worth of programming. In exchange with other scholars in an academic context they will contextualize the ways in which PROTOZONES can be positioned as a transferable curatorial concept within a broader cultural and academic field. For this research. an auto-ethnographical documentation of how PROTOZONES is developing is applied and science fictional writing and worlding as tools for institutional shifts towards process-based approaches is investigated.

The thesis will transfer the ideas and experiences gained in this context and formulate PROTOZONES as a curatorial framework or method, it is intended to inform other practitioner’s work within the arts, aiming to speak to curators, exhibition-makers, artists and trans-disciplinary practitioners with an academic or artistic background.

Phila Bergmann (They/Them or no pronoun) works as an artist, curator and researcher based in Zürich and Berlin. In recent years they have developed interdisciplinary projects with a queer-feminist focus within music theatre, opera, installation and performance. They have presented works at Museum Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, 3HD Festival in Berlin, Performing Arts Festival Berlin, SpielArt- Festival in Munich, Nowy-Teatr in Warsaw, European Center for the Arts Dresden, the Radialsystem Berlin, Zürcher Theater Spektakel and Opera Darmstadt, among others. In 2021 they developed an edition of Pogo Bar for KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin.

For the years 2020-2025, together with Thea Reifler, they are working as the artistic directors of Shedhalle Zurich. In 2021, Philipp Bergmann and Thea Reifler are also working as the artistic co-directors of Bone Performance Festival in Bern. Philipp Bergmann teaches art at the architecture department of ETH, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürichn and is a researcher for the project “COLLECTING THE EPHEMERAL Prerequisites and Possibilities for Making Performance Art Last”, at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Art.

Furthermore, Phila Bergmann is currently training as a Social Justice & Radical Diversity Trainer at the Institute for Social Justice & Radical Diversity at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam.