"It was really important for us", says Sylvia Winkler about the exhibition grant that she and Stephan Köperl received from ifa – Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen in 2007 to fund the Lijiang Studio in the mountains of Yunnan Province, China. Two years earlier, they had met Jay Brown, the founder of Lijian Studio, at the Media Art Festival in Bangkok. Brown invited the two artists to his studio. Contemporary European art was still quite a novelty in Lijiang at that time. In China, it was almost exclusively limited to one or two galleries in Beijing and Shanghai. With their video and performances, Winkler and Köperl provided visitors to the exhibition with an outsider's view of what was happening in their province. According to Sylvia Winkler, ifa's funding opens a window on the world. She believes the programme is particularly important because it is not restricted to institutions for major projects, but also provides low-threshold access to funding for artists with "self-organised projects where there is no money".
Support for 2,000 projects
Over the 40 years of its existence, the programme has supported more than 2,000 artistic projects around the world. This period has seen many changes in the art world. 1982 was the year of Documenta 7, which turned its focus back to painting after excursions into new media such as video and photography. It was the time of the Neue Wilden and Transavantgarde – art movements dominated by men. And the projects supported by ifa were no exception. In the first year, it funded six projects, which included a major solo exhibition by Anselm Kiefer at the Whitechapel Gallery in London.
Broad selection of topics and art forms
In recent years, funding has been provided for contributions to the Taipei, Havana, São Paulo, Gwangju, and Manifesta biennials, as well as larger group exhibitions, including "US and THEM" 2021 at the Kapana Gallery in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, and "Post-Capital: Art and Economy in the Digital Age" at the MUDAM Contemporary Art Museum in Luxembourg, perhaps the largest and most ambitious exhibition held there to date. In such cases, an application can be made for all participating artists from Germany. Away from the biennials and large museums, support is also regularly provided for smaller projects. For example, in 2016 Andrea Diefenbach showed her impressive photo series "Land ohne Eltern/Country without Parents" at the Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts in Portland. The exhibition was about children growing up in Moldova who had to fend for themselves because their parents were forced to seek work in Western Europe. Stine Marie Jacobsen was helped to present her video "Direct Approach" in Beirut in collaboration with the pioneering Ashkal Alwan Association. In this way, she initiated a discourse by using film scenes to ask people about their experiences of violence. This attracted a great deal of interest in a country riven by civil war and ongoing tensions. In Oslo, interdisciplinary artist Bouchra Khalili showed her project on anti-colonial movements in the Global South and North.
Illustration of the exhibitions funded by ifa since 1982
The interactive table shows all exhibitions funded by ifa by country from 1982 to 2021.