CLB Conception

7. Juni 2018
Von Sven Sappelt

CLB Berlin is an independent project space for contemporary art, cultural studies, and urbanism at Aufbau Haus on Moritzplatz in Berlin Kreuzberg. Founded in the summer of 2015, we offer a varied program of exhibitions, performances, film screenings, book presentations, readings, lectures, and discussions. In addition to our function as a public platform, we offer space for closed meetings or workshops by independent initiatives, universities, foundations, and cultural organizations. We are also a creative lab for the production and presentation of artistic and academic cultural projects in an urban context.

The topics we address deal with central concepts of art, science, and the city. With a decidedly interdisciplinary approach, we foster an open network of interrelationships and interdependencies that incorporates various protagonists from culture, business, and politics who are shaping our living spaces.

What holds all this together is a shared understanding of the world’s complexity and their refusal to confine themselves to a single position, perspective, or field. This is underpinned by a specific attitude: one that acknowledges that our own horizon is always limited and can only be expanded with the help of others. This applies to individual biographies as well as to urban society. Sustainable design approaches and long-term solutions can only be developed when expertise from different disciplines and spheres of life are brought together. Ultimately, this is nothing more than democratic culture in practice: actively addressing the overwhelming diversity of articulated positions, far-reaching interdependencies, and possible futures in order to draw conclusions for one’s own life and society as a whole.

In order to achieve this, we cultivate a culture of inclusion and hospitality that enables authentic encounters removed from hierarchies, dependencies, or status. In practical terms, this means inviting conflicting positions, practicing respectful interaction, and consciously offering space for others’ ideas and intentions. Our small bar also contributes to this familiar atmosphere.

As simple as these goals may sound, the challenges they pose are complex. The open space must be constantly reasserted: in the face of insulated art discourses, the rhetoric of competition, elitist power structures, explicit and implicit dependencies of daily life, crippling bureaucracy, and financial constraints.

In a time when independent spaces for art and culture are increasingly coming under pressure and being pushed into the periphery, CLB Berlin strives to maintain an attractive and central location for the arts and urban discourse, based on an economically viable model yet open to the unpredictable creativity of a plural community of actors, organizations, and networks searching for work spaces, production sites, and presentation venues around the world, and especially in Berlin. Ultimately, we aim to provide something that is essential to democratic public spheres: opportunities for meeting, exchange, and self-understanding about oneself and the community.

CLB Berlin does not pursue any commercial goals. At the same time, it must be financially viable and is therefore organized as a private enterprise. As such, it combines entrepreneurial independence with the common good. In this sense, CLB sees itself as a socially committed cultural enterprise. We have chosen to refrain from acquiring charitable status, as the related obligations would in our case be more restrictive than beneficial. At CLB Berlin, we offer space for entrepreneurial thinking and new organizational models, and are committed to adapting political, legal, and administrative structures to a contemporary understanding of cultural entrepreneurship.

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