The Local School

Berlin, DE
Frieze d/e
Type: Consulting

Commissioned by Paul Teasdale & Jörg Heiser, Frieze d/e

Contributions by Studio Miessen, Monica Bonvicini, Helmut Draxle, Tom Holert, Robert Kudielka,Roger Bundschuh, Eva Grubinger, Sabine Hornig, Michelle Howard, Kuehn Malvezzi, and others.

  • The Local School Proposal by Studio Miessen
  • Project Team: Markus Miessen, Diogo Passarinho, Martin Pohl, Yulia Startsev

Does Berlin Need a New Art School?

Over the past two decades, Berlin’s growth into an international art metropolis has brought many people to the city. A number of these imports teach art – seemingly in all other cities but Berlin. The city’s two schools providing full-scale arts education – the Universität der Künste (UdK) and the Hochschule Berlin Weissensee – were established long before 1989.

Since 2006, if not before, discussions about the UdK’s organizational and administrative politics have flared up – generated, for one, by the stepping down of Stan Douglas and Daniel Richter as professors, a development the UdK attempted to atone for by appointing prominent professors such as Olafur Eliasson (whose assignment though ends March 2014). Weissensee has seen an outflow of professors with international profiles to teaching posts in other cities – Karin Sander has taught in Zurich since 2007, Katharina Grosse in Düsseldorf since 2010 – and the school has gone the way of appointing guest professors and lecturers.

Reputations, ratings and capacities for reform aside, the question still presents itself whether Berlin, given its manifold art scene, is in need of new models and directions for its art education. In 2006–7, the one-year temporary project unitednationsplaza underscorred the city’s desire for an informal art school mediating its larger, international art discourse.

Does the current situation suffice? If not, what form would a new institute ideally take?


The Local School is based on the premise that Berlin is highly inefficient at using and mobilizing its potentials and resources.

The Local School is based on a faculty in flux. But many are based in Berlin. It exploits the fact that many of the world's most interesting protagonists live and work in the city. The Local School's central organizational diagram is based on a rhizomatic network of local practitioners, who act as sparring partners for students.

The Local School is for free. Every year 52 students are being admitted. Each week witnesses the opening of a solo show of one of the 52 annual participants, mentored by one artist whom they personally choose and apply to. It offers a 1:1 relationship between students and faculty. Students can apply directly to work with a member of the faculty, who then choose one student to work with for one year.

The Local School is organized around a central congretation space that acts as discussion venue, social magnet, exhibition space and temporary bar. The large scale jumbotron mediates the intimate debate outward. It can be placed in different locations in the city.

The Local School exists as a bastard, who's heritage lies somewhere between private funding, crowd funding and corporate donors (rotating weekly, per solo show). The Local School is further renting out its spaces and produces self-generated income through a weekly bar and diner.

The local school is based on intersecting spheres of intimacy between friends, friends of friends ∞. It is comprised of a plethora of bottom up formats upon degrees of inclusivity that include a local student kitchen as well as a rotating student council that facilitates programs and referees student life.

The Local School does not have its own library, but it maps out and facilitates access to existing Berlin-based institutions and universities, which have a wide-ranging and diverse set of libraries.

The Local School will archive all production and events on a publically acccesible website.

The Local School produces regular publications in collaboration with a set of editorial consultants from the faculty as print on demand ebooks. It runs an independent publishing house, which will also be responsible for all printed matter as well as being utilized as a strategic distribution channel to communicate all exhibitions and projects.

The Local School is based on a timetable that activates Wednesday as the central weekly public gathering point. These gatherings produce knowledge through public events such as lectures, conferences and exhibitions. An all-night bar and diner instigate the necessary social backdrop. The revenues from these nights are rerouted as production budget for exhibitions.