Goethe Medal: German state decoration goes to OFF-Biennale


This year’s Goethe Medal honours the film manager Gaga Chkheidze from Georgia, the curator and dramaturg Yi-Wei Keng from Taiwan, and the curatorial team of the OFF-Biennale from Hungary. The official decoration of the Federal Republic of Germany is awarded to public figures who render outstanding services to cultural exchange worldwide or the teaching of the German language. The Goethe-Instituts abroad nominate candidates by virtue of their significance for cultural policy and their exceptional artistic work; the selection of awardees is made by a jury of experts. The Goethe Medal will be conferred by the president of the Goethe-Institut Carola Lentz at a ceremony in Weimar on 28 August.

For the announcement of this year’s awardees, Carola Lentz, president of the Goethe-Institut, noted, “Cultural practitioners and civil society actors worldwide are increasingly affected by censorship, repression, persecution and war. This year’s award winners are inspiring enablers and mediators, creating places of encounter and diversity of perspective. They make a significant contribution to cultural understanding, global exchange, and freedom of expression and art. Gaga Chkheidze has contributed significantly to the development and internationalisation of the Georgian film scene and has worked hard to connect Georgia to European and international programmes. Yi-Wei Keng is one of the most important initiators of cultural exchange in Taiwan, especially of the networking with Germany’s theatre scene. The OFF-Biennale is the largest independent event for contemporary art in Hungary and reflects current social, political, and ecological issues through artistic means. It unequivocally works without state funding. With the Goethe Medal, we hope to strengthen the work of these outstanding individuals and groups in their cultural context.”

The commission for awarding the Goethe Medal, chaired by Thomas Oberender, justifies the selection of the award winners as follows:

Gaga Chkheidze is an internationally recognised film manager from Georgia. Under his leadership, the Tbilisi International Film Festival, which he founded, has become a central venue for the current Georgian and international film and cinema industries and an important meeting point for filmmakers, producers, and distributors in the South Caucasus. Gaga Chkheidze’s engagement in the field of film is crucial for Georgia’s connection to European and international institutions and programmes, film markets and festivals, and for opening Georgia to international co-productions. Gaga Chkheidze also maintains close working relations with Germany and creates important cultural bridges between the two countries. As director of the Georgian National Film Centre, he has worked for the digitization and restoration of the Georgian films produced during the Soviet era thus making a decisive contribution to the preservation of Georgian film heritage.

Yi-Wei Keng contributes as a curator, dramaturg, and translator to a lively cultural exchange in Taiwan, primarily in the performing arts. He has brought important stimuli to the Taiwanese theatre scene, including experimental theatre, children’s theatre, and theatre for people with disabilities. Under his direction, the Taipei Arts Festival has become the most important festival for performative arts in Taiwan with guest performances and co-productions from Europe, the USA and Japan, among others. A special focus of his work is the promotion of German theatre productions. Yi-Wei Keng has brought productions by the Deutsches Theater Berlin, Rimini Protokoll and Raumlabor Berlin to Taiwan. He is also continuously committed to opening up new perspectives for theatre professionals and students of theatre studies in Taiwan through translations of fundamental foreign texts into traditional Chinese characters. At his suggestion and with his support, many contemporary plays and publications from Germany, such as “Postdramatisches Theater” by Hans-Thies Lehmann, have been translated in recent years.

The OFF-Biennale is the largest event for contemporary art in Hungary. The six-member curatorial team, which consists exclusively of women, brings contemporary art to civil society, and initiates a public discourse on current socio-political and ecological issues. The focus is on issues such as the participation of LGBTQ+ and Roma in Hungary. The curators not only invite central positions from Germany and other places into the Hungarian debate, but also make Hungarian and Eastern European perspectives accessible in Germany and beyond, as recently at documenta fifteen. OFF-Biennale deliberately keeps its distance from a national cultural policy and therefore works without state funding and without partnerships with state art institutions. This is considered by the OFF-Biennale both a strong political statement a practical basis to protect the freedom of artistic expression and the professional integrity of its programmes.

About the awardees

Gaga Chkheidze (Georgia)

Gaga Chkheidze was born in Georgia in 1957. After studying German at Tbilisi State University, Gaga Chkheidze graduated from the Faculty of Literature and Art at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena. In the 1980s, he worked as the director of the German school in Tbilisi and taught German literature at Ilia University. In 1988, he organised a Georgian film retrospective at the Arsenal cinema in Berlin for which he even smuggled films across the Soviet border in his car. In the 1990s he worked as a translator and programme coordinator for the Forum of Young Cinema (Berlin International Film Festival) and the Arsenal cinema (Berlin). In 2000, Gaga Chkheidze founded the Tbilisi International Film Festival in Georgia to introduce Georgian audiences to films made in Georgia and around the world and to promote the development of the Georgian film industry. The now internationally renowned festival celebrates its 23rd anniversary this year. From 2005 to 2022, Gaga Chkheidze was a board member of the Georgian Film Fund; from 2005 to 2008 and from 2019 to 2022, he was director of the Georgian National Film Centre. After Gaga Chkheidze expressed criticism of Russia in the wake of Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine and published a statement of solidarity with Ukraine, he was dismissed as director of the Georgia National Film Centre in March 2022. The decision of the Minister of Culture was challenged with a lawsuit.


Yi-Wei Keng (Taiwan)

Yi-Wei Keng, born in 1969 in Taiwan, went to Prague to study non-verbal theatre from 1997 to 1999 after studying philosophy. He returned to Taiwan in 1999 and began working in theatre alongside his work as a writer. In 2012, he became artistic director of the Taipei Arts Festival. His Axis Taipei & International Collaboration concept contributed to anchoring Taipei as a creative centre, introducing the latest trends in international theatre and presenting creative works from all over the world to the festival audience. The focus of his artistic work was and still is particularly on the promotion of German-Taiwanese cultural projects. Since 2018, Yi-Wei Keng has also been dramaturge at the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts in southern Taiwan, one of the three most important theatres in the country. For 2023, he has invited the Berlin Schaubühne with their production “Im Herzen der Gewalt”. He is also co-curator of the Want to Dance festival in Taipei. From 2023, he will be responsible for the Tainan Arts Festival in southern Taiwan and thus provides access to German and international cultural content beyond the capital city. For his work to date, Keng received the Friendship Medal of the German Institute Taipei in 2017 and the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France in 2019.


OFF-Biennale, represented in Weimar by Hajnalka Somogyi and Nikolett Erőss (Hungary)

The OFF-Biennale started in 2014 as a “garage biennial” to create a platform for artists in exchange with civil society. Already in its first year, the art show attracted much international attention. With three editions to date (2015, 2017, and 2021), it has since become a highly regarded international event. The team behind the OFF-Biennale consists of six curators: Nikolett Erőss, Eszter Lázár, Hajnalka Somogyi, Eszter Szakács, Borbála Szalai and Katalin Székely.

Nikolett Erőss, leader and co-curator of the OFF-Biennale, works as a curator as well as editor and directs the municipal Budapest Gallery. Previously, she was co-curator of the C3 Gallery, coordinated media art projects at the C3 Cultural and Communication Centre Foundation, was director of the Trafó Gallery and curator at the Ludwig Museum in Budapest. Hajnalka Somogyi is the initiator, leader, and co-curator of the OFF-Biennale. She received her Master’s degree at Bard College, New York in 2009, worked as a curator at Budapest’s Ludwig Museum, founded the independent art initiatives Dinamo and Impex, and currently teaches as a professor at Metropolitan University Budapest. In 2020, she became the first Hungarian to be voted one of ArtReview’s “Power 100: most influential people in art.”


The artistic and discursive programme for the Goethe Medal in Weimar is developed in cooperation with Kunstfest Weimar.


Press photos of the 2023 awardees can be found at www.goethe.de/bilderservice

Information about the Goethe Medal and an overview of previous awardees can be found at www.goethe.de/goethe-medaille

About the Goethe Medal

Since 1955, the Goethe-Institut has awarded the Goethe Medal once a year as an official decoration of the Federal Republic of Germany. It is the most important award of Germany’s foreign cultural policy. The candidates are nominated by the Goethe-Instituts around the world in consultation with Germany’s diplomatic missions. From these nominations, the Goethe Medal Jury, consisting of persons from academia, art, and culture, draws up a selection that is confirmed by the president of the Goethe-Institut. The awarding of the Goethe Medal makes globally relevant cultural issues and actors known to the public in Germany and supports the internationalisation of the German cultural landscape. The award ceremony is held on 28 August, Goethe’s birthday. Since it was first awarded in 1955, 375 persons from 70 countries have been honoured, including Dogan Akhanlı, Yurii Andrukhovych, Daniel Barenboim, David Cornwell aka John le Carré, Princess Marilyn Douala Manga Bell, Sofia Gubaidulina, Ágnes Heller, Wen Hui, Neil MacGregor, Petros Markaris, Ariane Mnouchkine, Tali Nates, Shirin Neshat, Sandbox Collective (Nimi Ravindran and Shiva Pathak), Irina Shcherbakova, Jorge Semprún, Yoko Tawada, Zukiswa Wanner, Robert Wilson and Helen Wolff.

The commission for awarding the Goethe Medal

Franziska Augstein (journalist), Meret Forster (editorial director, music, BR-Klassik), Olga Grjasnowa (writer), Matthias Lilienthal (dramaturg and theatre director), Moritz Müller-Wirth (journalist, Die Zeit), Cristina Nord (Berlinale Forum, head of Berlin section), Thomas Oberender (representative of the Presidium and chair of the jury, author and curator), Insa Wilke (literary critic); representing the Federal Foreign Office: Ralf Beste (Head of the department of culture and communication); representing the Goethe-Institut: Carola Lentz (President of the Goethe-Institut) and Johannes Ebert (Secretary-General of the Goethe-Institut)


Solidarity Screenings – ONLINE in the Verziotheque until June 11

Solidarity Screenings – ONLINE in the Verziotheque until June 11

Moving Image and War in Ukraine

Fundraising for Ukrainian artists


The SOLIDARITY SCREENINGS program, presented in the framework of the symposium THE SEASON OF DARKNESS: Being Civil in an Uncivil Society, is available online between May 23 and June 11, 2023 in the Verziótheque, in collaboration between Verzió Film Festival and OFF-Biennale Budapest. The Solidarity Screenings program is a series of fundraising events in the framework of the initiative ESI – Emergency Support Initiative, supporting members of the artistic and cultural community in Ukraine finding themselves in need.


The Solidarity Screenings video program is a collection of thought-provoking works exploring the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war, its effects and its perception. Each video has been created by a visual artist based in Ukraine, and all of the works were made after the start of the full-scale Russian military invasion on February 24, 2022.


The project aims to preserve and develop evidence, reflections, and feelings related to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Through their artistic reflections, the video creators offer unique insights into the impact of the conflict on the lives of people caught in the middle of a humanitarian crisis, forced migration, occupation, volunteer, and resistance movements.


The video program presents an intimate and raw portrayal of the artists’ current practices, featuring personal stories and attitudes. It explores the diverse ways in which the conflict affects the daily lives of individuals, families, and communities across Ukraine. The screenings foster awareness about the situation in the region and provide a platform for Ukrainian artists to share their perspectives and experiences with audiences around the world, offering their own interpretations of the complex political and social issues at the heart of Europe.


Solidarity Screenings program features the works of Anna Kryvenko, Alisa Sizykh, Bohdan Bunchak, Daryna Snizhko, Maria Matiashova, Vladyslav Plisetskiy, Yarema Malashchuk and Roman Khimei, Eugene Arlov and Diana Derii, Zoya Laktionova. Curated by Serge Klymko.


Rental and more information on this link.

LUMBUNG FILMS — THE BUDAPEST SCREENING. A selection from the lumbung Film collection

LUMBUNG FILMS THE BUDAPEST SCREENING. A selection from the lumbung Film collection

Date: May 24 – June 3, 2023

Wednesday – Saturday,  4:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Venue: Nyolcésfél, Budapest 1084, Német u. 16.; 7 th floor


lumbung Film is a common pot of film and video works created by lumbung members and lumbung artists. It functions as an online database accessible for the lumbung community who can curate and present their own film selections in their respective countries. Aiming to pool resources together, lumbung Film is one of the manifestations of the lumbung practice and a way to keep using this “sharing resources, knowledge and working-method”—approach beyond the duration of documenta fifteen. Within the framework of the film programme lumbung Films – The Budapest Screening, the works selected by OFF-Biennale Budapest will be presented in four sections and screened consecutively over 8 days.


lumbung Film was developed by lumbung members in the framework of documenta fifteen. The screening programme is part of THE SEASON OF DARKNESS: Being Civil in an Uncivil Society symposium.


  1. Modus Operandi: lumbung working methods in practice

The lumbung experience or method—adopted by ruangrupa on the path towards documenta fifteen in 2022 and beyond—is an operative approach based on such values as collectivity, generosity, sustainability, mutual help, trust, solidarity, and interdependence. It tests alternative economic and cooperation models that prioritizes shared resource building and equitable distribution on the local level. It emphasizes the social role of art and promotes a radically different, broader, and more inclusive understanding of art than the practice currently consensual in Western Europe. The works featured in this section give an insight into the specific ecosystems and working methods of a handful lumbung members who were part of the collectively driven journey throughout documenta fifteen. The majority of these lumbung-interlokal participants are spread around the Global South, with their own contextual realities and vulnerabilities requiring different operational routines, often perceived as a survival strategy.


The House of Red Monkey & Taring Padi: Art, Activism, Rocknroll, 2002, 26 min

Agus Nur Amal PMTOH: Jatiwangi Art Factory, 2021, 11 min

Sebastián Díaz Morales: Smashing Monuments, 2022, 50 min

Atis Rezistans: The Ghetto Biennale, 2015, 3 min

Atis Rezistans / John Cussans: The Tele Geto Sign Painting Video: 2012, 14 min

Wajukuu Art Project: Wakija kwetu, 2022, 29 min

El Warcha: A Blast from the Past, 2021, 8 min

Project Art Works: Modus Operandi, 2015, 10 min


  1. The cycle of women’s rites: films by DAVRA collective

DAVRA is a collective of 19 young artists from Central Asia created by filmmaker Saodat Ismailova, exploring the common cultural heritage of the region. The word “davra” is of Persian origin and it means circle. “A circle can mean a circle of people, a place to gather, or a group of people with whom you gather. In the Central Asian region, the people understood the universe and the world around them as round.” The films in this section by four members of the collective are about female rituals: the cyclicality of the female body which reflects a human presence on earth, where life and death are also in a continuous cycle.

Rituals revolve around the spirits of the chilltan, a sacred and invisible collective of powerful female entities at the centre of animist spirituality in Central Asia. The elements of fairytales and daily living rituals are intertwined in the films as well as the historical past and the ancestral heritage are linked to everyday reality.

The common female experiences create a sense of belongingness that either can be manifested in a physical place, such as a home, a house, or a shelter (that is created by a female protectress to protect women who have been subjected to violence), or it can be imagined in a warm and protective pregnant female body with the reproductive capabilities of nature.


Aida Adilbek: Köbelek, 2023, 2.25 min

Saodat Ismailova: Bibi Seshanbe, 2022, 52 min

Nazira Karimi: Maiday Isin Shygaru, 2021, 3.18 min

Nazilya Nagimova: Chulpan – The Mother, 2022, 11 min


  1. Songs of displacement and resistance

The power of music as survival strategy in the face of persecution, resistance, displacement, and migration are the common topics shared by all three films represented in this section. The documentary-based films collect the traces and tell the tragic stories of a Yazidi community from the border region between Turkey and Syria, of a former multicultural town Müküs on Turkey’s border with Iran, as well as of a Kurdish-Iranian refugee seeking asylum in Australia. The act of documenting all the suffering, hardship, trauma, love, and sorrow in song texts, singing them out loud accompanied by heavy music is an immensely powerful testimony of the witnesses (be it a single person or a whole community, a religious or cultural minority), who stay forever haunting in these films.


Shero Hinde (Komîna Fîlm a Rojava): Love in the Face of Genocide, 2020, 52 min

Pınar Öğrenci: Asit, 2022, 60 min

Safdar Ahmed: Border Farce, 2022, 15.55 min

  1. I wanted the screen to flip: methods of refusal and support by Sada [regroup]

Sada is an art community and self-organised art school active between 2011-15 in Baghdad, initiated by Rijin Sahakian with the aim of providing an artistic platform that in addition to recording shared experiences, witnessing, and resistance offers professional and human support, the saving power of community in the midst of years of war, armed conflicts, US occupation, international sanctions and total political instability. The group disbanded after four years, but several members re-joined to produce new works—compiled as one experimental, interconnected anthology film—for documenta fifteen, providing a unique artistic and political representation of Iraq’s recent history, interspersed with personal narratives.


Sajjad Abbas: Water of Life, 2022, 13 min

Ali Eyal: The Blue Ink Pocket, 2022, 11 min

Sarah Munaf: Journey Inside a City, 2022, 10 min

Bassim Al Shaker: Barbershop, 2022, 8 min

Rijin Sahakian: Anthem, 2022, 11 min


THE SEASON OF DARKNESS: Being Civil in an Uncivil Society

THE SEASON OF DARKNESS: Being Civil in an Uncivil Society

OFF-Biennale Budapest, Symposium

Date: May 24–26, 2023

Venue: Nyolcésfél, Budapest 1084, Német u. 16.; 7 th floor

The event will be streamed via Facebook


When the season of darkness comes, not all hope is lost, nor should it be. It is the darkest times—a time defined by multiple crises—when we (re)discover the importance of solidarity, care, and empathy. It is the war that reminds us of peace; it is the darkest deeds that emphasize human rights; it is the propaganda that makes us strive for clarity; it is the excesses of power that teach us to value democratic procedures; it is the corruption that accentuates the need for social justice; it is the bigotries that make us work for a more tolerant society; and it is authoritarianism that highlights autonomy. In a season of darkness, we formulate our civil responses and responsibilities; we create networks, finding new ways of collaboration. 


OFF-Biennale Budapest’s three-days symposium circles around the newly (re-)emerged urgencies in the region broadly understood as “Eastern Europe” that were brought forth by the ongoing full-scale Russian military invasion of Ukraine. The three-day event is organized as a way of preparation, and—based on the “lumbung experience”—it intends to open up the organization and participation process of OFF’s fourth edition in 2024.


The symposium’s discussions aim to assess the viability, sustainability, and possibilities of an often forced civilship in the East of Europe: when self-organized civil initiatives take on higher stakes, working under ever worsening (or even threatening) conditions, partly taking over responsibilities of the state, and partly hindered by it to continue their independent operations. If the societies in the Eastern part of Europe have never actually been modern, democratic, and free—in the Western notions of these terms—how are civil initiatives to act with integrity and autonomy, especially in times of war? How can civil initiatives and communities work together in the region, also on an institutional level? With the symposium OFF-Biennale would also like to connect with the methodologies and practices of the lumbung inter-lokal that OFF was a part of at documenta fifteen.


The symposium will be held in a hybrid form. 


Supported by Goethe-Institut Budapest; European Commission – Creative Europe programme; Foundation for Arts Initiatives




May 24, 2023, Wednesday 


Lumbung in the Easts of Europe: the East Europe Biennial Alliance and Other Networks


Lumbung—a concrete practice adopted by ruangrupa on the path towards documenta fifteen in 2022 and beyond—enables an alternative economy of collectivity, shared resource building, and equitable distribution. Lumbung is anchored in the local and based on values such as humor, generosity, independence, transparency, sufficiency, and regeneration. But how can the lumbung practice be translated/adapted/paralleled to already existing networks in the Easts of Europe, such as the East Europe Biennial Alliance, and used by organizations in the region facing new and old emergencies caused by the ongoing war in Ukraine? And what futures does the lumbung practice offer in the Easts of Europe?


4:00 pm

Greetings and introduction by OFF-Biennale Budapest


4:15– 5:15 pm
Lumbung: Experiences, Lessons Learned, Visions for the Future

Roundtable discussion with lumbung members 

Participants: farid rakun (ruangrupa, online), Matthias Einhoff (Z/KU – Center for Art and Urbanistics, Berlin, online), members of OFF-Biennale Budapest

Moderated by Luca Petrányi


5:15 – 6:15 pm 

How to Lumbung in the Easts of Europe? 

Negotiating the Tensions between the Precariousness of Self-organized Biennales and a Desire for Regenerative Cooperation

Roundtable discussion with members of the East Europe Biennale Alliance

Participants: Tereza Stejskalová (Biennale Matter of Art, Prague); Bartosz Frąckowiak (Biennale Warszawa); Serge Klymko (Kyiv Biennial); Laima Ruduša (Survival Kit Festival, Riga); and Eszter Szakács (OFF-Biennale Budapest)

Moderated by Katalin Erdődi


Coffee break


Networks of Solidarity – presentations

6:30 – 6:55 pm  Kateryna Aliinyk: What was Planted? What has Sprouted?

6:55 – 7:20 pm Daša Anosova: Artist Collectives and Cultural Networks for the Reconstruction of Ukraine

7:20 – 7:45 pm Matthias Einhoff (Z/KU – Center for Art and Urbanistics, Berlin): Networks of Mutuality—Trust and Resource-sharing in the Berlin Eco-system (online)

7:45 – 8:10 pm  Zsolt Miklósvölgyi: (An-)archiving Easternfuturist Movements (online)


Coffee break


8:30 – 9:45 pm

Solidarity Screenings: Moving Image and War in Ukraine

Introduction by the Solidarity Screenings’ curator Serge Klymko

The films will be available online between May 23 and June 11, 2023 in the Verziótheque,
the online film library of Verzió Film Festival. The Solidarity Screenings program is a series of
fundraising events in the framework of the initiative ESI – Emergency Support Initiative,
supporting members of the artistic and cultural community in Ukraine finding themselves in



May 25, 2023, Thursday


11:00 am – 1:00 pm


On Violence


Curatorial Guided Tour with curator Lívia Páldi at Budapest Gallery (Budapest 1036, Lajos u. 158.)


The exhibition is dedicated to investigate the arts-based approaches to gender-based violence from the perspective of women and queer people. The Russian invasion and the ongoing war in Ukraine have brought into closer proximity the brutality of war-related sexual crimes, the traumatic and disorienting loss and vulnerability. Given the permanence of a great number of conflict zones and violence experienced by women and children, the discrimination directed towards the LGBTQI+ people, the ongoing struggle for bodily autonomy, equality, and reproductive health and a worldwide increase in domestic violence, the exhibition brings together various positions and explorations into the complex nature and nuanced operation of violence.


Kateryna Aliinyk, Artists’ Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, Rachel Fallon, Olia Federova, Jelena Jureša, Elektra KB, Hristina Ivanoska, Anikó Lóránt (1977–2020), Milica Tomić, Dominika Trapp, Selma Selman, Anna Zvyagintseva


4:00 pm


Civil Insituting: Roma and Minority Communities’ Instituting Endeavors


Roma cultural organizations have evolved and operate in a constant dichotomy of community-based immediacy (given their grassroots character) and a desire of a more formal institutionalization (given their claim for national acceptance and support). At the same time, this dichotomy, as well as the often hostile and exclusionary attitude of the state apparatuses towards them has led these organizations to develop specific operating models (through direct contact with their communities and their interconnectedness) that can serve as an example for majority institutions, as long as they are open to a less exclusionary approach that recognizes and includes other voices. This section investigates how civil organizations relate to institutionalization, and how larger institutions consider the complex tasks related to the representation of and working with different minority communities. In the meantime, it also raises the question of how artists play with institutional exteriority / interiority and how these actions (or the discourse itself) can feed back into the institutional structure.


4:00 pm 

Greetings and introduction by OFF-Biennale Budapest


4:15 – 5:00 pm
Practices of Change in Communities of Today and Tomorrow: Towards Institutions of the Future

Roundtable discussion

Participants: Arman Heljic (online), Lara Khaldi (de Appel, Amsterdam, online), Payam Sharifi (Slavs and Tatars, online), Natali Tomenko (online)

Moderated by Marina Csikós


5:00 – 5:30 pm
Performance: Luna de Rosa: Jaćh opràlë lë làvë miré – (trust me)


5:30 – 5:45 pm
Coffee break


5:45 – 6:30 pm
Decolonizing Institutions: The Responsibility of Representation

Roundtable discussion

Participants: Angéla Kóczé (CEU, Romani Studies Program), Renan Laru-an (SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin), Dr. Zsolt Sári (ICOM Hungary), Tímea Junghaus (ERIAC, Berlin)

Moderated by Eszter György


May 26, 2023, Friday, from 10.30 am


The Borough: Civil Networks on a Local Level


The borough, the hood—the terms used to describe the immediate neighborhood in a city—are considered in this section as complex webs of urbanistic and interpersonal relations, where the built environment and the communities that live there interact and affect each other. This section presents a series of case studies about smaller-scale (neighborhood-size), community-based urban interventions and collaborations that use a lumbung-like working method on a micro-level, embedded in the different local contexts, which are always exposed to different historical and social storms, and which are nevertheless the primary terrain for everyday solidarity and cooperation.


10:30 am
Greetings and introduction by OFF-Biennale Budapest


Presentations by 

10:40 – 11:05 am Recetas Urbanas: The Crazy Army Rebellion

11:05 – 11:30 am Katalin Erdődi: Learning from the Rural: Watermelon Republic and News Medley

11:30 – 11:55 am Kata Oltai: The TANGÓ project: Building a good neighborhood

11:55 am – 12:20 pm Artemisszió Foundation: Building an Intercultural Community and Active Civic Participation on the Level of Local Communities


12:20 pm – 1:00 pm
The Borough: Culture on the Scale of Site
Closing roundtable discussion with the presenters

Moderated by Krisztián Török


Closing remarks



Date: May 24 – June 3, 2023

Wednesday – Saturday,  4:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Venue: Nyolcésfél, Budapest 1084, Német u. 16.



Supported by Goethe-Institut Hungary; European Commission – Creative Europe programme; Foundation for Arts Initiatives and Instituto Cervantes de Budapest

Towards Shared Futures – Participatory Conference

The project ‘From Complicated Past Towards Shared Futures’ is a collaboration between the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art in Riga, the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius (Lithuanian National Museum of Art), OFF-Biennále in Budapest, Muzeum Sztuki in Lodz, and Malmö Art Museum. The aim of the project is to support the formulation, processing and interpretation of certain socially difficult, conflictual themes and to provide access to cultural products for groups and individuals who do not necessarily have the opportunity to do so.

In the framework of the project, OFF-Biennale Budapest, realizeda practice-based meeting among professionals to meet, speak and think together on the topics raised by the project and to learn with and from each other.

The participatory conference Towards Shared Futures aims to create a meeting space, a platform for art mediators, curators, artists, educators and youth workers aiming to reach and work with vulnerable communities (with a special focus to minorities) using various tools that contemporary art projects offer. Our goal is to create a better understanding of challenges, goals and errors and to work towards more open and inclusive art mediation and museum practices.

The event consist of four panels and some intermediate programmes, inviting practitioners working with and for underprivileged communities in different ways, most of them including the tool of art mediation.The aim of the international collaboration ‘From Complicated Pasts Towards Shared Futures’ is to support the formulation, processing and interpretation of certain socially difficult, conflictual themes and to provide access to cultural products for groups and individuals who do not necessarily have the opportunity to do so. Our goal is to create a better understanding of the challenges, goals and errors and to work towards more open and inclusive art mediation and museum practices.


The event will consist of four panels and some intermediate programmes, inviting practitioners working with and for underprivileged communities in different ways, most of them including the tool of art mediation.


The program  is supported by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.


Venue: Kesztyűgyár, Budapest, Mátyás tér 15, 1084

Dates: November 24-25.



November 24. (Thursday)

9:30-10:00 Check-in and coffee

10:00-10:30 Opening by Elza Medne (Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art), Hajnalka Somogyi and Nikolett Erőss (OFF-Biennále) and Fanny Hajdú

10:30 Melinda Vajda: Reflections on contemporary Roma identity

11:00-13:30 Play&Talk | workshop-lectures and Q&A

Participation-based workshops including a short presentation on the context they were created for. This part invites artists and practitioners who created art mediation sessions for specific exhibitions or art works using out-of-the-box tools and methodologies aiming to address vulnerable communities and people outside of the general audiences of the arts. For this panel several art mediation sessions of the former OFF-Biennále will be introduced. In the end of the panel a round-table will be mediated with the facilitators in order to discuss how successful their outreach was, what challenges and errors they encountered and what are their questions, doubts or ideas to overcome those.

11:00-11:30 Eglė Mikalajūnė: “A Colleague from another Tribe. Artist Meets Entrepreneur”

11:30-12:00 Csilla File & András Cseh: Together with Bees and the Offline Reserve 

12:00-12:15 Virág Lődi: RomaMoma

12:15-12:30 Māra Žeikare: Challenges and benefits developing inclusive art mediation programmes. Project “Agents of Change: Mediating Minorities” and exhibition “Dairy Diaries” about dementia

12:30-13:00 Árpád Bayer: Open History – drama and role-play in the museum

13:00-13:30 Q&A with the section’s speakers

13:30-14:30 Lunch

14:30-16:30 Break the Wall | workshop-lectures and Q&A

Talks and Q&A with guests working with the targeted communities as social and youth workers, educators or in other positions. The aim of this session is to get to know the perspective of those working with specific vulnerable communities on a longer term, not necessarily with artistic tools. Our guests will speak about their experience on how they work together with their groups and how arts and external mediators could be introduced into these contexts. Our goal is to create a conversation and discuss goals, mistakes and possible solutions together.

14:30-15:00 Máté Lencse:  Board game pedagogy at Toldi Tanoda and beyond  

15:00-15:30 Panni Végh, Olga Irimiás, Péter Klausz: Artemisszió and Mira – Intercultural and artistic practices as tools of social integration 

15:30-16:00 Éva Preszl: Self-Knowledge Filmmaking Workshop with underprivileged youth 

16:00-16:30 Zita Csőke: Kesztyűgyár Community House – At home in Józsefváros   

17:00-19:00 Interactive Roma led walk by UCCU


November 25. (Friday)

9:30-10:00 Check-in and coffee

10:00-11:30 Creating (in) Community | workshop-lectures and Q&A

A session of sharing case studies from artists and educators working with communities with the tools of art – all sorts of! From music to movement, live-action role play and performing arts, we invite practitioners of diverse methodologies they use to co-create with the people they work with. The case studies will shortly present the chosen methods, processes, target groups, obstacles and outputs of the speakers. The session will end with a world café format try-out of the mentioned tools and methodologies, facilitated by the speakers of the panel. Participants of the conference will be able to try out different co-creation processes in a small scale, to have a direct personal experience of the tools and impacts of what has been presented before.

10:00-10:30 Éva Bubla: The scent of common creation

10:30-10:50 Eglė Nedzinskaitė: “Where Are the People?” – When teenagers become  curators, architects, designers and marketing strategists of the exhibition.

10:50-11:10 Dalma Tokai: Common Vibe – Music is for everyone

11:10-11:45 Bálint Márk Túri: Creating Parallel Worlds 

11:30-13:30 Two Brain’s More Than One | collective brainstorming

In the last and most participation-based part of the conference, we will create diverse groups, each of which will include participants of the conference, and speaker-facilitators from all of the above sessions. The groups will gather their experiences and thoughts of the previously learnt methods and learnings and together come up with a smart goal and an action plan to implement their new ideas and knowledge into their practice. The aim of this session is not to create a specific mediation activity, but to open up different perspectives, share ideas and inspire each other to use new ways to reach our audiences.

13:30-14:30 Lunch

14:30-15:00 Sharings and learnings of the previous session

15:00-15:30 Closing

16:00  Women in Power – We will not remain invisible / Guided tour of the exhibition. at Kesztyűgyár Gallery


The goal of the Women in Power group is to help women with disabilities to strengthen their female identity, express and show themselves, connect with each other and others, and break out of invisibility by organizing events and art projects.



The event is supported by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.


Statement by OFF-Biennale Budapest, a documenta fifteen participant and lumbung member

Budapest, August 15, 2022


OFF-Biennale Budapest participates in documenta fifteen in Kassel with two exhibition projects and a publication. One of them, a long-term collaborative project with the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture (ERIAC), showcases artworks in relation to the idea, question, and (im)possibilities of a “RomaMoMA” (Roma Museum of Contemporary Art). OFF-Biennale’s second contribution plays out in close proximity to the Fulda River as a space that oscillates between the concepts of playground, junkyard, and construction site—places of creativity, transgression, refuse, and regeneration. OFF-Biennale’s projects are accompanied by a publication that examines the many aspects of the notion of “independence” as well as the power of collectivity. It is realized by the editorial platform On the Same Page that was initiated as an experimental publication method under the umbrella of OFF-Biennale Budapest, involving the participants and organizers of its 2021 edition.


Documenta fifteen, a large-scale contemporary art event since 1955, takes place in Kassel every five years. Each edition is conceptualized by an invited curator. For doucmenta’s 15th edition the Jakarta-based artist collective ruangrupa was invited to propose the program and the participants. Ruangrupa in documenta fifteen de-centralized organizational and decision-making processes and put in its focus collective practices. 


Since January 10, 2022, accusations of anti-Semitism against documenta fifteen were made on the basis of a German blog post: documenta fifteen participants were singled out due to their backgrounds or (alleged) BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement) affiliations. The accusations against anti-Semitism were picked up by the media in Germany, in part without  critically examining the sources, which has escalated into (cultural) political debates and racist attacks against Palestinian, pro-Palestinian, Black and Muslim participants, as well as into transphobic attacks against documenta fifteen participants—these events, however, were hardly (if ever) mentioned by the media. 

The ensuing months resulted in a constant dialogue between documenta gGmbh (the institutional body behind documenta), federal and state-level governmental bodies, external advisors, ruangrupa, the Artistic Team, as well as the lumbung members to find solutions for tackling the situation. However, the planned public debate (the series “We Need to Talk”) had to be cancelled. Furthermore, in May, one of the documenta fifteen venues in Kassel was broken into and defaced with what can only be interpreted as a death threat, spurring more debate in Germany as to where the boundaries between hate speech and artistic freedom of expression are.

The debate around documenta fifteen has shifted into a new gear after the unveiling of the work People’s Justice by Indonesian art group Taring Padi, which commemorates the victims of Indonesia’s long and brutal dictatorship under former General Suharto (1967–1998). The work, which features many exaggerated satirical characters, was made in 2002. One of the caricatures, a member of the Mossad, Israel’s secret service, is depicted as a pig. Another figure with fangs and blood-red eyes appears to be an Orthodox Jewish man wearing a black hat with “SS,” the acronym for the Nazi Schutzstaffel. The discovery of these characters within the work erupted into a massive controversy on June 21, just days after the official opening on June 18. The artwork was covered up first, “[as] a monument of mourning for the impossibility of dialogue at this moment,” Taring Padi said in their apology for the controversy the work has caused, stating “It is not meant to be related in any way to antisemitism,”. They said that they often depict soldiers as animals as a criticism of capitalism and military violence. “We are saddened that details in this banner are understood differently from its original purpose. We apologize for the hurt caused in this context,” they added. This monument, we hope, will be the starting point for a new dialogue.” The apology and covering up did not prove enough, and some in Germany called for the group and organizers to be prosecuted. Taring Padi eventually dismantled People’s Justice from documenta fifteen. 

Since then, the debate has entered the field of federal politics: on July 7, the Bundestag addressed the controversy around documenta and the question of the limits of “artistic freedom,” also in relation to other much-debated cultural events and institutions in Germany (Goethe Institut, Haus der Kulturen der Welt), and connected these to the long-standing debate about the German position towards the state of Israel (more on this debate you can read here). Although the parliamentary discussion did not result in any form of resolution, the restructuring of documenta, and a stronger control over its artistic content was envisioned and agreed upon. On July 16, documenta announced that documenta gGmbH CEO Sabine Schormann resigned.  A new interim director, Alexander Farenholtz has been appointed as the documenta gGmbH CEO. 

Also on July 16, a statement by the supervisory board of documenta und Museum Fridericianum gGmbH made recommendations to the shareholders of documenta to “enter a process of consultation with scholars from the fields of contemporary antisemitism, German and global contexts, postcolonial studies and the arts.” This recommendation was against the opinion of ruangrupa and the artistic team, nor did the supervisory board consult the participating artists. In response, the artists, ruangrupa, and the artistic team of documenta fifteen sent a letter on July 18 to the members of the documenta supervisory board to refuse this recommendation and to take a stand against censorship, detailing also some of the attacks that created a climate of hostility and racism towards the artists. On August 1, in a statement by the shareholders of documenta a scientific advisory panel was introduced: “The scientific analysis of those works of art at documenta fifteen, that have been hinted to use antisemitic imagery or language, is to be carried out while the exhibition is still running.” The shareholders’ statement also referenced an imagery in the project by lumbung artist collective Archives des luttes des femmes en Algérie, which the group defended in their own statement on August 10

(Summary partly based on the summary of artnet).



OFF-Biennale Budapest, as part of lumbung interlokal and participant of documenta fifteen, stands by the lumbung values, such as inclusivity, collectivity, and knowledge sharing. Following this, we stand with ruangrupa, the Artistic Team, and the entire lumbung community, too, notwithstanding the acknowledgment and regret that Taring Padi’s exhibited banner caused pain—which, we believe, is the result of contextual differences rather than actual antisemitic sentiments. Together with the lumbung community, we believe in the dialogue between different contexts, between different understandings, between different cultures; we condemn antisemitism, all forms of discrimination and hatred, and we also stand for artistic freedom.




Letter by runagrupa, May 7


Artists’ Statement in Support of ruangrupa, June 2 https://www.e-flux.com/notes/472663/artists-statement-in-support-of-ruangrupa










New York Times 








Learning and Unlearning with Taring Padi: Reflections on Documenta





Jakarta Post 








Harassment faced by lumbung artist Party Office 



“Antisemitism in the Arts” discussion



Speech by Ade Darmawan from ruangrupa at the Bundestag: https://documenta-fifteen.de/en/news/speech-by-ade-darmawan-ruangrupa-in-the-committee-on-culture-and-media-german-bundestag-july-6-2022/


Hito Steyerl withdraws from documenta fifteen 




documenta CEO, Sabine Schormann resigns



Alexander Farenholtz appointed new interim director of documenta gGmbH 


documenta fifteen


The work of the Albanian artist Sead KAZANXHIU has been uploaded on the wall Fridericianum in Kassel.

The huge nest installations serve as metaphors for those who have talked about cultures marginalized on the fringes of our society.

Németh Ilona: Úszó kertek

Ilona Németh: Floating Gardens

The new Kassel version of Ilona Németh’s Floating Gardens (2011) project is based on the concept of the Healing and Future Gardens floating on the Fulda River and is presented as part of the What Ifs and Why Nots project.

With the call published in the documenta fifteen’s newsletter, we are waiting for applications from those who take care of the gardens for 100 days during the documenta.

Ilona Németh is an artist, organizer, and curator based in Slovakia. lumbung member OFF-Biennale Budapest invited her to participate in documenta fifteen. Németh’s artistic contribution The Floating Gardens revolves around her main interests: active interaction between a work and its viewers, and the dialogue between nature and society.

Two floating objects from polypropylene serve as islands for the two gardens, which are 3.5 by 4.5 meters in size each. They float on the Fulda River at Bootsverleih Ahoi from Wednesday, June 15 until Sunday, September 30, 2022. Németh created the first version of the floating gardens in 2011 in Hungary, Budapest, applying two remarkable examples from the history of garden design: the French and the English style.

The floating gardens are available to rent for free!

For documenta fifteen Németh reuses the floating objects from 2011 and transforms them into the Future Garden and the Healing Garden. In The Future Garden grow plants that clean the soil of certain toxic substances and plants that have adapted to the recent weather changes caused by climate change. The Healing Garden consists of herbs and vegetables which benefit from each other’s company. Each garden needs another kind of care, because the plants are different and the rules of their coexistence are not identical either. Each garden is an ecosystem. Its maintenance requires cooperation between the carer and the cared for.

The two small gardens (the Future Garden and the Healing Garden) on the Fulda River at Bootsverleih Ahoi in Kassel are to rent for free from Wednesday, June 15 until Sunday, September 30, 2022.

The gardeners take care of the floating gardens during documenta fifteen by keeping the plants, the shapes, and the concepts of the gardens while enjoying the benefits of having and maintaining these particular garden-islands.


Documenta fifteen

Péli Tamás: Születés

Tamás Péli: Birth

Tamás Péli’s painting Birth was first shown to the public last summer at the Budapest History Museum in the frame of the third OFF-BIennale Budapest. Thanks to the dedicated work of many people, the painting’s story continues – and now it’s about to get a real big launch! The painting has arrived in Kassel as one of the highlights of documenta fifteen! The Fridericianum, the first museum building at the European continent will host the painting from now on!

Most Influential Hungarian Women in 2011 – Forbes list

We are proud to announce that after being featured on Art Review’s prominent ‘Power 100’ list, as founder and co-curator of OFF Biennale, Hajnalka Somogyi has been included in the Forbes 2021 list of the ‘Most Influential Hungarian Women’. As the project leader of Central Europe’s largest independent art event, Hajni is one of the well-known figures of culture who have been selected to be part of documenta’s responsible team for its 15th edition in the summer of 2022.

Read the whole article here 

Cover: Elle Hungary/Ajkai Dávid, 2021