in Curating, Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK)
Thea Reifler and Phila Bergmann
In their talk, Thea Reifler and Phila Bergmann will present and critically reflect on PROTOZONES 2020–2025, an exhibition concept that they developed for Shedhalle Zürich. PROTOZONES places the notion of process-based art at the center of the curatorial work and serves as a guideline for creating an institution in flux.
Each PROTOZONE is intended to serve as a community-building, queer- and ecofeminist platform and framework for artists, activists, scientists, and visitors. Therefore, the PROTOZONES do not only involve people from international and local art, performance, and club scenes, but also collaborate with people working in future technologies, science, and local initiatives engaged in social, ecological, and technological change. The intended aim of the PROTOZONE is to support various people, materials, and their processes in finding their own ways of becoming, relating, and co-existing in the space of Shedhalle. Thus, each PROTOZONE should become a temporary ecosystem or organism — a space that is shaped and experienced together. This idea is inspired by science-fiction literature from authors such as Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia E. Butler, Marge Piercy, Margaret Atwood, Nnedi Okorafor, N.K. Jemisin. In their novels, these authors create queer-feminist worlds that constantly change and develop and that gain life far beyond the narrative.We will look back and ask ourselves: How did the last 1,5 years at Shedhalle look like? What did we learn after five PROTOZONES came into live? Where are we now and what could happen within the next 3,5 years?
Shedhalle is and always has been a very dynamic art institution with progressive approaches to exhibition-making. It opened in the 1980s in the cultural center “Rote Fabrik” and has since come to be recognized as a space for critical and innovative art practice. Shedhalle was founded as an independent association in 1987. It also has a long history of working with artists as curators and queer-feminist approaches in both content and form.
Thea Reifler (pronouns: they/them) and Phila Bergmann (pronouns: no pronoun/they/them) work together in the fields of music theatre, opera, performance, installation, artistic direction and curation. In recent years they have developed interdisciplinary projects with a queer-feminist focus. They presented works at Museum Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, 3HD Festival in Berlin, Performing Arts Festival Berlin, Schlachthaustheater Bern, 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. They are currently based in Zurich and Berlin.
For the years 2020-2025, Thea Reifler and Phila Bergmann are working as artistic directors of Shedhalle Zurich. In 2021, Phila Bergmann and Thea Reifler are also working as the artistic co-directors of Bone Performance Festival in Bern. They teach art in the architecture department of ETH, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich. Philipp Bergmann is part of the research project “COLLECTING THE EPHEMERAL Prerequisites and Possibilities for Making Performance Art Last”, at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Art.
Furthermore, Thea Reifler and Phila Bergmann are currently training as Social Justice & Radical Diversity Trainers at the Institute for Social Justice & Radical Diversity at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam.