D21 Open Call for Exhibition Projects

Exhibition Projects & D21/Solo
for the D21 annual programme 2025/26

The D21 Kunstraum sees itself as a platform and experimental field for local and international artists. It shows group and solo exhibitions on socially relevant themes, primarily in the fields of new media, performance, photography and installation.
Further information at: d21-leipzig.de

As part of its annual theme ALIEN, the D21 Kunstraum is looking for exhibition projects that deal with the topic artistically and curatorially. The alien appears in various art and cultural forms such as theatre, games, visual arts and literature and is strongly linked to debates on identity and empowerment. The annual theme of D21 is about the idea of the “alien” as an image for the “foreign”, but also about alienation, the alienating in the (supposedly) familiar.

What exactly is an alien? In English, the ambiguity of the term as “foreign, different” becomes particularly clear: “Aliens” are people who are not citizens or nationals of the country that sets itself apart: Citizens vs. aliens. The term “alien” here therefore primarily refers to those who are foreign (to us). The alien as we know it from science fiction films needs the addition “extraterrestrial life” or “alien life”. The term “alienated” describes very precisely how many people in marginalised communities describe their own role in a sexist, anti-feminist, homophobic, racist or anti-Semitically discriminatory society. The alien has therefore been used in queer theories since the 1960s, especially by LGBTQIA*, PoC and Black people, as an allegory for the feeling of being alienated and separated from a heteronormative society of white supremacy. Aspects of the allegory “alien” emerge as a foreign and self-designation, a term of struggle, empowering appropriation and structural criticism.

Unfortunately, people tend to feel empathy only for the closest, most similar circle and reject the supposedly foreign. We all othernise, compare ourselves with others and distance ourselves based on the idea that people and societies differ significantly from our own social group in terms of lifestyle, culture or other characteristics. This is an alienation that takes place in the centre of society, be it because of gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, ethnicity, nationality, social position within a society, or even because of supposed biological differentiation criteria between people. People of certain skin colours and identities are made invisible or particularly exposed through bias, which makes them susceptible to violence through racism and anti-Semitism, exclusion and violent crime.

The exhibitions and accompanying programmes should show the theme of the “alien” in the visual and performative arts in an overlapping and interlocking way, possibly expanded to include motifs from gaming, film, literature and theatre. In addition to the artistic positions, the exhibitions can also build bridges to design or comic culture and use cultural-historical background knowledge to illuminate the enormous potential of the alien as a role model.

Application for group exhibitions

1. concept paper with the following information:
• Concept description (max. 800 words)
• Description of own practice (400 words)
• List & info of participants to be invited (artists, speakers with short biography and photo(s) of their work)
2. CV of the concept authors
3. budget sketch

Application for solo exhibition (D21/Solo**)
1. artist statement on working methods, artistic approach, question(s)/works to be shown during the exhibition (max. 1 page)
2. CV of the concept authors
3. portfolio of previously realised works in PDF format with meaningful texts and images
4. budget sketch

Please send everything in one complete PDF (no individual pages) (max. 10 pages; data volume max. 12MB) or use a permanently usable download link; please provide time-based media such as video/sound exclusively as a link (do not send original files!)). The realisation of the project is subject to funding. Submissions can be sent in German or English to: office@d21-leipzig.de by 31.05.2024. The selection is made by the D21 advisory board.

Website link: https://www.d21-leipzig.de/en/opencall/alien/

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