The INHABIT Artist-in-Residence Program of the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics invites artists from various disciplines to collaborate with our team of scientists and researchers. The integration of artistic thinking and knowledge as reflective practices in their own right is an important dimension of the institute’s mission. For this the presence of art and the inspiration and challenge of artistic practice are essential. The interaction between the different perspectives creates a mutually productive space for both artists and scientists to work in.
For this reason, INHABIT invites artists to spend three months creating new work, or further developing an existing project, in a scientific research environment. Openness to the mission of the institute and interest and readiness to work together with individual researchers or research groups are naturally preconditions. During the residency, the institute will provide space, resources, and facilities for productive experimentation, dialogue, and collaboration. Work developed during the residency will be presented in cooperation with various local arts institutions in the form of an exhibition, performance, concert, or other mode of presentation, and complemented by discursive formats.
Pamela Breda is an artist and filmmaker living between London and Venice. Her artistic practice with experimental film, photography, constructed objects, and installations explores representations and activities of political, social and cultural powers. She is particularly interested in exploring the connection between science and social-cultural frameworks in terms of the impact of digital technologies on individual and collective spheres of identity, with a focus on the post-internet era of communication, the domain of virtual realities, and Artificial Intelligences (AI).
“The Unexpected” is an artistic research project exploring the impact of AI interfaces on human emotional and psychological domains through an experimental film and a video installation. From chat boxes to humanoid robots and artificial companions, humans today deal every day with any number of perceptive situations—in education, health and business—in which AI have become the main referents with whom we interact. This arts-based research will present an original critical examination of the outcomes of daily human-AI interactions. The project aims to develop this inquiry at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in order to explore the psychological and socio-cultural basis of our understanding and perceptions of AI.
Pamela Breda holds an MA in Art History from Ca’ Foscari University, Venice; an MA in Visual Arts from IUAV University, Venice; and she recently completed a PhD in Visual Arts from Kingston University in the UK. She has received a number of awards and fellowships, including the Cantica21 and an Italian Council Award from the Italian Ministry of Culture, an IMéRa Fellowship from Aix-Marseille University, a PhD scholarship from Kingston University, a Movin’Up grant from the City of Torino, and a STEAMplant artist residency at Pratt Institute in New York City. Her films have been screened internationally and presented at festivals and in art venues such as Sheffield DocFest (Sheffield, UK); ECRA Film Festival (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil); Revolutions Per Minute Festival (Boston, USA); Digital Video Library, Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival (Clermont-Ferrand, France); Cité internationale des arts (Paris); Visions du Réel Film Festival, VdR-Film Market (Nyon, Switzerland)' Hazel Eye Film Festival (Nashville, USA); The Bomb Art Factory Film Festival (London, UK); Sohonya Art Center (Bangalore, India); Francesco Fabbri Foundation for Contemporary Art (Pieve di Soligo, Italy); and Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation (Venice).
Sajan Mani is an intersectional artist hailing from a family of rubber tappers in a remote village in the northern part of Keralam, South India. His work voices the issues of marginalized and oppressed peoples of India, via the “Black Dalit body” of the artist. Mani’s performance practice insists upon embodied presence, confronting pain, shame, fear, and power. His personal tryst with his body as a meeting point of history and present opens onto the “body” as a socio-political metaphor.
During his residency at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics Mani will delve into caste slave songs and explore how the sonic spaces created by these songs produce collective emotions and memories in Dalit communities and urge them to claim a “politics of presence” in hegemonic sonic spaces and thus inquire into possibilities of alternative modes of archiving.
He will continue his ongoing research into colonial archives and collections that touch on Kerala, with a special emphasis on tracing and/or re-imagining sonic dimensions of Dalit history through these materials and on critical reflections with and within various research groups of the Institute. As the culmination of the residency, he imagines a multi-sensorial participatory performative installation and a new moving-image work.
Sajan Mani received an MFA in Spatial Strategies from the Weißensee Kunsthochschule in Berlin; a BFA in Applied Art from the Karnataka State Open University, Mysore, India; and a BA in English Literature and Journalism from Kannur University, in Kannur, India. Mani has participated in numerous international biennales, festivals, exhibitions, and residencies, including at Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Concordia University, CA (2021–2022); Lokame Tharavadu Kochi Biennale Foundation, IN (2021); Times Art Center Berlin, DE (2021), Nome Gallery, Berlin (2021); CODA Oslo International Dance Festival, Norway (2019); Ord & Bild, Sweden (2019); India Art Fair (2019); “Specters of Communism,” Haus der Kunst, Munich (2017); Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh (2016); Kampala Art Biennale, Uganda (2016); Kolkata International Performance Arts Festival (2014–2016); and Vancouver Biennale, CA (2014). Since 2019 he has been the recipient of an artistic research grant from the Berlin Senate, a Fine Arts Scholarship from Braunschweig Projects, and an Akademie Schloss Solitude Fellowship, as well as, in 2022, a Prince Claus Mentorship Award.
Syowia Kyambi is a Kenyan-German artist who works with questions of gender, memory, and identity in the context of colonial history and cultural power structures.
Her works deal with the way the present is influenced by historical constructs and narratives, and how the past shapes our imagination and ideas of the future. The question of what gets remembered and archived and which stories about things, bodies, and the past are accepted as the norm, is the point of departure for her artistic practice and where her cultivation of alternative stories that challenge normative history begins. The performative dimension of her installations is thus a key element, with the body negotiating the construction of the self in the context of postcolonial experience.
During her residency with INHABIT, Kyambi will develop a performance-installation work that engages collective memory in Frankfurt’s public spaces and archives. She is especially interested in audiences’ physical responses to her (site-specific) performances with regard to collective memory.
Syowia Kyambi studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (BFA, 2002) and received her MFA from the Transart Institute in 2020. She has held fellowships from the Center for Arts, Design, and Social Research (2018–2020), Uniarts Helsinki (2018), the Smithsonian (2017), and the Art in Global Health Project of the Wellcome Trust Fund (2013). Previous residencies include PRAKSIS (Norway, 2019), Center for Arts, Design, and Social Research (Italy and Mexico, 2018), Helsinki International Artist Program (Finland, 2018), Delfina Foundation (Great Britain, 2016), and Iaspis (Sweden, 2013). Her work has been exhibited internationally, including in the Dakar Biennial,Senegal; MARKK, Hamburg; Ostrale Biennial, Dresden; National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare; EVA International Biennial, Limerick; WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels; Konstall Lund, Lund and the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design, Stockholm.
Murat Adash is a Turkish-German performance artist and choreographer whose work involves the possibilities and uses of movement for engaging social and ecological relations.
In the context of an expanded repertoire of media (video, photography, installation, text), his performance practice investigates relations and frictions between corporeality and spatiality. Since 2017, he has been developing a project that involves a novel conception of “camouflage” as a field of research and choreographic inquiry. Beyond the idea of animal or insect mimicry, Adash is interested in rethinking camouflage as a spatial act, a process through which the self is negotiated in and through space and which – like choreography – involves a transformation of the embodied self in relation to an environment.
Adash’s residency in the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics will explore this mimetic act as an inquiry into a (potential) alternate mode of dwelling in and understanding the world. His project will be developed together with local dancers as a work of “expanded cinema” involving video and live performance. Informed by the practice of contact improvisation, the work will explore the concept of camouflage as a dynamic process between dancers – a choreographic investigation that deconstructs and expands the idea of a self-contained subject.
Murat Adash received an MFA in Visual Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is currently pursuing a PhD in Art at Goldsmiths, University of London. He has held residencies at the Delfina Foundation (London, 2018), Utopiana (Geneva, 2017), Mountain School of Arts (Los Angeles, 2017), and during a one-year Istanbul Studio Grant (2016–2017) from the Cultural Foundation of Hessen (Hessische Kulturstiftung) he pursued research into social choreography. Adash’s works and performances have been exhibited internationally in such spaces as the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), Somerset House, Mimosa House, and the Barbican, all London; Le Commun, Geneva; Mumok ,Vienn); Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam; SALT and Alt Art Space, Istanbul; Manifesta 11, Zurich; EXPO Chicago and Iceberg Projects, Chicago; Grimmuseum, Berlin, and Motorenhalle, Dresden.
Céline Berger is a French artist and filmmaker who engages the linguistic and visual worlds of workers in different everyday contexts. Key to her practice is the investigation of processes, gestures, and patterns of behavior that characterize the workplace in corporate and institutional systems.
Her films and installations present a critical perspective on the spaces and architecture in which workflows take place, all the while interrogating the meaning of concepts such as efficiency and effectivity in the language of employees, managers, trainers, and coaches. During her residency with INHABIT, Berger will examine the descriptive tools, data, and graphics used by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in their studies, experiments, and methodologies. Drawing on her background as both engineer and artist, Berger is especially interested in the aesthetic experience associated with methods of quantification and the ways data and diagrams are used and represented.
At the heart of her project is a critical examination not only of how the methods and processes of quantification are used in specific studies produced at the Institute, but of whether the evaluation of an artwork’s aesthetic effects can be quantified at all. Berger’s research during her residency, her conversations with Institute scientists and experiences of cooperation, will provide the material for an experimental short film.
After studying physics and materials science, Céline Berger worked from 1997 to 2008 as a product and project engineer for different international microelectronics companies. In 2012 she completed a postgraduate course at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne, received the Nam June Paik Award from the Arts Foundation North-Rhine Westphalia, and commenced a year-long arts residency at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. Her works have been exhibited internationally in such venues as the Karlin Studio, Prague; Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld; the Stedelijk Museum Bureau, Amsterdam; Beursschouwburg, Brussels; Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn; UCLA’s New Wight Biennial, Los Angeles; and Generali Deutschland Holding AG, Cologne.
Pedro Oliveira is a sound artist and researcher who is mainly concerned with acts of sonic violence and colonial articulations of listening. His work inquires the materiality of sonic archives in the realm of political surveillance.
At the centre of his artistic and scientific work is the examination of speech recognition technologies, more specifically the so-called automated "accent recognition" software, which is used by the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) to determine the origin of asylum seekers. Oliveira investigates acts of collecting, organizing and taxonomizing vocal traits and their violent usage in systematically categorising individuals. His artistic interventions into the material embody an understanding of listening as a critical practice in which stories are told through gaps found in the archive (or database).
During his residence he will continue working on his research on the deployment of sonic biometric technologies to further understand how machine listening can be instrumentalized as a violent and dehumanizing device when embedded into asylum procedures. He will more specifically work on the notion of “distortion” as a set of material and discursive techniques (e.g.distortion as a character present in the timbral matter of voice itself) to critically challenge the workings of speech analysis systems.
Pedro Oliveira holds a PhD from the Universität der Künste Berlin, as well as an MA in Digital Media from the Hochschule für Künste Bremen and has most recently worked as lecturer and research associate in Media and Cultural Studies at the Heinrich-Heine Universität Düsseldorf. He is also a founding member of the platform Decolonising Design. He has participated in international exhibitions as well as performances at SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin; IASPIS, Stockholm; HKW, Berlin; transmediale Festival, Berlin, Deutschlandradio Kultur; ctm Festival, Berlin (HAU2); Goethe-Institut Brussels, Belgium; sonorities Festival, Belfast; ACUD Macht Neu, Berlin
Lea Letzel is a multimedia artist, director and pyrotechnician living and working in Cologne and Reykjavik. In her artistic practice she concentrates on the development of interdisciplinary scenic and performative work at the intersection of sound and music, media arts, dance and space.
Lea Letzel is especially interested in the concert format and questions around the conditions and conventions of performance situations. The examination of the relationship between art and music is also thematized spatially as her works are produced and performed in different forums between the white cube, black box and in the context of new music. Her visual and acoustic material is equally versatile and indeterminate, moving between pyrotechnical elements and the soundscape of a skate hall. Most recently, she was invited to the Villa Kamogawa in Kyoto as a scholarship holder of the Goethe-Institut to study Japanese pyrotechnics.
During her residency she will continue working on a project based on the fireworks notation of the Japanese chemist and fireworker Takeo Shimizu who she discovered during a residency at the Goethe Institute Villa Kamogawa in Kyoto. Around 1965 he developed a notational system for fireworks displays based on conventional musical notation. Taking this as a starting point she will deal with idea of notation as a multifaceted system between instruction, performance text and choreographic manual. In this context she will also reflect on the question of hierarchy between music and fireworks and its sonic potential which can be of equal value next to the visuality. As part of this, she will team up with different scientists from several departments, among others with musicologist Dr. Lara Pearson.
Lea Letzel studied at the Institute for Applied Theatre Studies at the Justus Liebig University in Gießen and the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne. Since 2015 she is also trained as a pyrotechnician and special effects technician. She has participated in international exhibitions as well as performances at Witte de With, Rotterdam; Maschinenhaus Essen; Theater Duisburg; Philharmony, Duisburg; Bundeskunsthalle Bonn; Bonner Gesellschaft für Kunst und Gestaltung, Bonn; FrankfurtLAB, Frankfurt am Main; Acht Brücken Festival, Köln; Edith- Russ- Haus für Medienkunst, Oldenburg; PACT Zollverein, Essen.
Alexander Tillegreen is an artist and composer living and working in Copenhagen and Frankfurt am Main. His practice moves between sound, printmaking, light and painting in the form of installations and performances. The works interrelate on different levels and are often shown together in constellations alongside architectural, spatial, atmospherical, textual and even ephemeral interventions and elements.
Different scales of tension between the individual and the surrounding world are one recurring theme, raising questions regarding both sensorial perception and psychology. During his residency, he will continue his research and studio work into psychoacoustic phenomena and auditory illusions, and further explore the interdisciplinary boundaries and potentialities between science and art.
As part of this, he will team up with with neuroscientist Dr. Alessandro Tavano.
Together they will work on stimulus production and experimental arrangements that will conclude in both scientific and artistic manifestations, including a new sound installation within the framework of an exhibition situation. During his stay at the institute Tillegreen will also engage on different levels with a broader range of studies and scientists from different departments that relates to his own artistic practice and research.
Alexander Tillegreen completed his Meisterschüler at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste-Städelschule in 2017. Additionally he studied fine arts at the Cooper Union School of Art in New York and art history, musicology and sound studies at the University of Copenhagen. Alexander Tillegreen has participated in international solo and group exhibitions as well as performances at the MUSEUM MMK FÜR MODERNE KUNST Frankfurt; CTM Festival, Berlin; Kunsthalle Darmstadt; fffriedrich, Frankfurt; Agnes Maybach, Galerie, Cologne; Jean Claude Maier Galerie, Frankfurt; Tom Christoffersen Gallery, Copenhagen; Fotografisk Center, Copenhagen; Code Art Fair, Copenhagen; and Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen.