Bettina Knaup

Cecilia Vicuña, Galaxy of Litter, The Hudson River New York, 1989. Photo: César Paternosto

common wastes

In the context of her fellowship, the curator Bettina Knaup is working on her new project common wastes – a long-term, transnationally oriented residency and research undertaking that aims to create lasting relationships and exchange processes between art institutions and waste infrastructures such as landfills or recycling plants.

The (neo-)colonial practice of exporting, outsourcing, dumping and forgetting toxic remains is increasingly encountering resistance and also factual limits. Garbage does not simply disappear. Instead, it turns up and remains, almost everywhere, though not in an equally distributed way. Thus, scientists* already consider the countless 20th and 21st century landfills scattered across the planet as the largest human legacy on planet Earth. Perhaps these largely subterranean formations are all that will remain – distributed, large-scale repositories, archives, or even cultural monuments? The common wastes project therefore proposes to explore the excessive amounts of waste deposited into the earth, air, and water as a form of commons and cultural heritage, but also to critically interrogate the growth paradigm and productivity ethos of art and cultural institutions.

The project is based on Bettina Knaup’s doctoral dissertation performing (as) waste and is inspired by the work of numerous artists* and scholars* who view waste as enduring, as beyond human contexts of exploitation, and experiment with forms of (non)knowledge in relation to such seemingly dead material.

In the context of her fellowship, Bettina Knaup investigates, among other things, what it would mean for Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen to take note of its wastes – the discarded projects, consumed energies and materials, the mostly invisible relationships with a wide variety of maintenance workers who make the operation of an institution possible – to consider them and to build a relationship with them?

Bettina Knaup, freelance curator and writer (Berlin), has (co-)curated numerous international festivals, exhibitions and projects, including the International Festival of Contemporary Arts City of Women (Ljubljana, 2001–2004), performing proximities (Beursschouwburg, Brussels, 2008), performance platform. body affects (Sophiensaele, Berlin, 2012) and the archive and performance project re.act.feminism, which toured Europe from 2008 to 2013 (i.a. Akademie der Künste Berlin, Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona, Wyspa Institute of Art, Gdańsk, Tallinn Art Hall) and has been re-launched in 2022 in the frame of Manifesta 14 in Pristina. She regularly publishes, teaches and collaborates with other artists* and curators*.