Youth Academy

Youth Academy

The Youth Academy has been set up by the Academy of the Arts of the World as a platform to further the conversation between young artists and art practitioners in Cologne about artistic and social ideas and discourses, while also providing a site for interdisciplinary collaboration on professional artistic projects. At the Youth Academy, artists between the ages 18 to 27 are welcome to make use of their many talents in working on their own ideas and group art projects.

The focus is on a critical engagement with current sociopolitical questions and artistic work taking place within and addressing the socioeconomic realities of life in Cologne. The Youth Academy is open to everybody and aims to establish a varied and lively political discourse that is not constrained by social and cultural borders or artistic disciplines. The broader context is the intention to make visible and question the current conditions and effects of global power dynamics in one’s own local environment.

The Youth Academy is made up, on the one hand, of an open group of young Cologne-based artists who will develop a collective interdisciplinary project twice a year, and, on the other, of a workshop program for artists, activists and theorists, which is open to the public. In this way, the Youth Academy creates a connection between artistic practice and theoretical reflection, and young artists from Cologne meet others with whom they can formulate their own positions on art and culture, shaped by their generation's perspective, and thus give new momentum to and enrich Cologne’s artistic and cultural landscape.

Current members of the Youth Academy are: Ronja Bader, Maria Chatzidimou, Manon Diederich, FEG, Anna Lebedeva, Adrian Robanus, Blanca Barbat Soler, Walter Solon, Nina Weber, Argia Helen Wehner and Elsa Weiland.



Over a period of more than a year, the participants of the Youth Academy of the Arts of the World in Cologne have worked on questions of image politics and mechanisms of power inherent to camera related practices. After critically negotiating participatory practices, we went instead for film as the language of selfrepresentation. Furthermore, we discussed the false promise of artistic work “with or about refugees,” which is formulated despite the obvious fact that any artist, regardless of their origin, is able to produce artistic works on their own. During a workshop week entitled The Privilege of (Self-) Representation in February of this year, four guest speakers contributed their perspective on our entire annual work program: African Studies specialist Marianne Bechhaus-Gerst outlined possible applications of the discussions about Critical Whiteness and Cologne’s colonial history. Massimo Perinelli lectured about the contribution to emancipatory practices provided by migrant movements and communities in the Federal Republic of Germany from the 1960s until the present day and pointed out a precise notion of solidarity, which calls for being applied within the arts, too. Nanna Heidenreich gave a talk about how to negotiate migration in the arts and the filmic image. The artist Cana Bilir-Meier presented excerpts of her work in which she carefully interweaves her own family history with the writing of history about those people who lived in Germany as “guest workers.” Katia Barrett and Antonina Baever were present as guest artists and provided insights into their practice.

In their exhibition KINDLY DISINVITED the participants of the Youth Academy of the Arts of the World present the results of an entire year’s work. Set up as a film workshop, as workshop camp or laboratory of image production the exhibition serves to display our negotiations of diverse forms of racism, discrimination, and discourses of Critical Whiteness and tackles mechanism of in- and exclusion. We aim at deconstructing hastily proclaimed forms of multicultural harmony and self-critically show queer selfaffirmation and questions of solidarization as places of refuge in our own work. We attempt to realize this BY USING images. Unlike an object racism is not something we can just push away. With this exhibition we intend to outline a field, where negotiations can never come to an end. We consider this an expanded, accessible film, which briefly interrupts its own production to turn to the spectators and show them what previously happened in order to look enthusiastically at everything that still needs to be done. Lotta Continua.

Ulf Aminde, Ronja Bader, Maria Chatzidimou, Manon Diederich,FEG, Anna Lebedeva, Adrian Robanus, Walter Solon, Nina Weber, Argia Helen Wehner and Elsa Weiland with Nora Wiedenhöft, Jan Kryszons and Roel Weenink and their great assistance and Georg Blokus and with works by Cana Bilir-Meier, Massimo Perinelli, and Marianne Bechhaus-Gerst.