mannheim / Emmilou

Thoughts out of a meeting (Text by Johanna Baumgärtel)

How is it possible to work and think outside one’s own box? Is it even possible to get to a point, which is located outside one’s own box? How can other people help us to get out of one’s own box?


Concerning the project “outside the box” there are perhaps two different ways to tackle the start of each sub-project (research at each art space):


  1. The artists and people sent by the visiting institution get as much information as possible about the visited institution, its system and the way of working. Equipped with this knowledge the visitors know the borders and try to bump and break the box of the ruling system to show the home institution a way to see things in a different way – meaning things outside the box.

  3. The artists and people sent by the visiting institution don’t get any information about the home institution. The visitors act by not knowing anything about the existing structure. This approach rests on the hope that the visitors are breaking the box by accident/ in a “naive” way/ by nature. The reason to choose this way could be that any knowledge one gains about a system will bring one’s way of thinking about it rather in line that having the opposite effect. If you know a system and try to break it consciously by acting against the existing walls, you are already locked down in the structure of the established system.

A few days after our feedback session, where we discussed these questions among the team, another question surfaced in my mind:


Perhaps the aim of break a box is altogether futile. Everybody thinks in one’s own box, necessarily. If other people try to show us something outside of our box, we can only  understand and implement it by adding it into our own box by pushing the walls/ borders a bit further and expand it. This is the only way to create long-term changes.


In this case possibility number 1 seems to be the better choice: The visiting institution can help and motivate the home institution to push consciously its borders further and expand the box. However, in this case we loose the untainted state of the visitors and force them to think in the same structures as the visited institution.


To sum up: The posed questions are fundamental for the work and the development in and of the project “outside the box”. But everybody who thinks about these questions automatically loses possibility number 2 as an option.


Result: Let’s hope that every institution will chose by nature a different way to handle the start of the research phases (concerning the information of the artists and the visiting institution). Nothing would get lost by not thinking about these questions before the start. However, a review of each research phase addressing these questions seems to be the way of getting as much information about the subject as possible for the project “outside the box”.


If you have already read this text – I am sorry – you lost your innocence and possibility number 2 is gone!

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