The mediators play an indispensable part in the New Patrons’ work. Whenever citizens organize to change a village’s appearance, build a monument, or realize a unique idea, the conversation starts with the mediator who travels out to meet them. The mediators are scouts and brokers. Rather than having answers ready or arriving with a detailed blueprint, they’re specialists in the art of listening. They help all involved parties understand a situation with all its ramifications and get to the heart of a civic initiative’s request.
Mediators are familiar with their region. They’re in constant dialogue with local institutions, talking to political representatives and administrators and learning more about a community’s economic circumstances and local history. Only when they have a good grasp of a site and all players do they help the citizens specify their request and start looking for the artist who is most suitable for this particular project.
Knowing the ins and outs of the arts scene is only a small part of the mediators’ qualifications. They gently guide the creative process along and know how to realize demanding and complex projects and bring all needed partners on board. They’re also translators, adept at forging a synthesis between artistic visions and citizens’ needs. In many instances, the mediators stay in touch with their patrons after a project is completed to address any concerns that arise.
Over the past thirty years, more than fifty mediators have been involved in New Patrons projects. Many of them have realized numerous projects in their regions and emerged as widely trusted partners to whom citizens, mayors and other policymakers, and foundations and sponsors turn for advice.
In Germany, Inke Arns, Denis Bury, Nina Möntmann, Frank Motz, Barbara Steiner and Axel J. Wieder have worked as mediators in the past.
"I’m curious about the knowledge that other people bring to the table and firmly believe that everyone should have access to education—and to art. This is the first time I’ve encountered an approach that allows me as an art educator to step outside the role of the one possessed of “knowledge” and engage the audience on an equal footing. As a curator and gallery owner, I’m also excited about harnessing the special expertise that artists have for society and giving them a perspective beyond the commercial art market."
Susanne Burmester has worked as a curator and project manager for cultural projects on the island of Rügen since 1993. She is artistic director of CIRCUS EINS, the Kunstverein Rügen's gallery and since 2017 mediator of the New Patrons in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
Mediator Brandenburg/ Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
"Initial scepticism turns into exchange and leads to mutual trust. In my role as a mediator, I am often amazed at what lies dormant under the surface of our society. What questions, ideas and wishes the citizens formulate, if you just let them. It is an exciting process to accompany this commitment and its inherent courage all the way to the work of art."
Holger Friese is a media artist, designer and photographer and has exhibited at documenta X, SFMOMA and ZKM in Karlsruhe, among others. He taught media design at various academies and universities and was artistic director of the International Summer School at the Bauhaus Denkmal Bundesschule Bernau between 2015 and 2018.
"Two core convictions drive me: that art is a mode of expression that can have a creative and aesthetic impact and that should be open to as many people as possible; and that it’s important to understand and respond to the particular social ties in a group, local community, a region, the sources of people’s sense of belonging."
Kathrin Jentjens completed the curatorial training at De Appel in Amsterdam, worked at the Julia Stoschek Collection Düsseldorf and directed the artist grant Just as well as the Kölnischer Kunstverein together with Anja Dorn from 2007-2011. In 2012 she was guest curator at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
Roland Knieg and Mirl Redmann
"We have been working together as mediators for art in public space and in museums since 2017. Our joint work includes research, planning and moderation of walks and dialogues. As a team we advise and support artists, gallery owners and institutions. In addition, we are volunteers for the Picknick für die Freiheit der Kunst und Kultur (Picnic for Freedom in Art and Culture) and for the founding of an association for art mediators."
Mirl Redmann is a cultural scientist. Roland Knieg is a designer.
Mediator, director of the New Patrons Society Germany
"Yes, art can really change things. But to do so, it has to venture out into the lives and needs of others. I'm always fascinated by the seriousness with which citizens approach art and have the confidence that something is happening through it that really matters to people. Nowhere else do I experience this as strongly and impressively as with the New Patrons."
Alexander Koch has been a curator and author, lecturer and consultant since 1998, and gallery owner of the Berlin gallery KOW since 2007. Since 2007, he was initially the founding board member of the Neue Auftraggeber e.V. in Germany, and since 2017, he has been the director of the German New Patrons Society. He advocates internationally for citizen commissioned art and networks actors worldwide.
Mediator Brandenburg/Ruhr area
"The role art plays in society is a theme that has occupied me since my studies. With the New Patrons, I rethink this question together with artists and citizens groups, realising projects that are rooted in those citizens’ lives and lived environments. This collaborative process opens up new perspectives on what art can and should be today."
Lea Schleiffenbaum studied at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and at Westminster University in London. She has worked as a curatorial assistant at Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, and at Kunsthaus Dresden. As a freelance curator, she realises projects independently or with institutions and implements projects in public space, amongst others for ZK/U Berlin – Center for Art and Urbanistics.
(Photo: Merav Maroody)
Mediator in Brandenburg
"As a mediator, I am fascinated by how strong a group can become when it jointly develops a vision for a new way of living together – because it takes courage to engage in an open-ended process and to work for change. The artistic view from the outside, which reacts to the group and its vision, shows again and again what power can come from art and culture. It becomes palpable how realities are shifted and something new emerges."
Sophia Trollmann is a cultural scientist and art mediator. At the New Patrons Society Germany she works as a mediator and coordinator for project development. As curatorial assistant at Skulptur Projekte 2017, she has realized numerous projects in public space. Most recently, she worked at the National Museums in Berlin as a research assistant in the field of education and outreach. She studied cultural studies and aesthetic practice in Hildesheim.
(Photo: Victoria Tomaschko)
"As a mediator, I’m in sustained dialogue with citizens I would otherwise never have met. Our exchanges of ideas may not always produce actionable results, but they often bring unexpected realities to light. The opportunity to meet so many people who deeply impress me and hear their different stories is a gift."
Trained as an artist and teacher, Lena Ziese questions the methods and possibilities of action of art from different perspectives and fields of practice. She is currently professor for "Free Art and Art Education" at the Academy of Fine Arts in Nuremberg.