De Praktikant

In the years to come, a crucial urban development of Amsterdam Nieuw-West district will take place, exemplary of many urban outskirts in Dutch large cities. This development will bring to bear questions about the district’s demography, quality of life, representation, and what role art and culture should play in its transition.

With project De Praktikant (English: The Intern), Nickisch pursues these subjects by examining through an inclusive approach, how inhabitants experience culture in their living environment, and vice versa; how they perceive the living environment from their cultural perspective, both actively and passively. This project involves creating an innovative practise from which a durable relationship with the neighbourhood community should be achieved at eye-level, and for Nickisch to embark on a journey that will further enhance and widen his elaborate practise as an artist-curator.

Download Artist Statement (PDF, in Dutch)

A relevant context for De Praktikant is Nickisch’ involvement in the establishment and development of Bureau Postjesweg (BPPr) in the centre of Amsterdam Nieuw-West.
The founders of this new presentation space for contemporary art expect the narrative of the district to be rewritten in the coming years. As an intercultural platform, the institution aims to participate in the challenging transition the district and its neighbourhoods will endure from the City’s extensive urban development plans for the area.

Contrary to common practise, where the positioning of a new space for the presentation of art follows logically from preliminary research into the locus, Bureau Postjesweg deliberately opts for an embedded approach. The presentation space itself is to develop alongside that of the district, (- as well as of the innovative living concept of the building in which Bureau Postjesweg resides). Its programming will involve and reflect on the many dynamics in the district emerging from the themes and questions revolving its thorough transition.

Von der Welt vergiftet zu sein

– Peter Sloterdijk, (translation: To be intoxicated by the world)

As such, the pertinent principle for project De Praktikant claims (after Sloterdijk): The era in which artists and curators were reflecting from objectivity, ‘securely’ removed from society, are over indefinitely. The time has come to (re)value the precious experiences and recent tradition of artists who operate within society deliberately. Who are not hesitant about examining the “usefulness of their art” (Useful Art, artist Tania Bruguera) with regard to tangible social issues within homes and businesses, and regarding the needs of the community.

De Praktikant proceeds on the aims of embedded artists (e.g. Artist Placement Group 1966-89). The project cherishes a view of the city inhabitants as Experten des Alltags (English: Everyday Experts, after the German theatergroup Rimini Protokoll), embraces the ardour in the Adoptie Methodiek (English: Adoption Methodology, Adelheid Roosen + Zina) and shares the views of De Nieuwe Opdrachtgevers, (English: The New Patrons, as developed by Belgian Franc╠žois Hers since 1991), in which neighbours and users of spaces are actively involved in the creation of art works.

Practically, project De Praktikant unfolds in three-stages in which Holger Nickisch respectively

  • Experiments with the role of embedded artist
  • Reflects and reiterates on his practise of co-creation as an artist-curator
  • Examines the effects of citizen co-ownership in the proces of art (co-)creation


In the first stage, Nickisch will participate in concrete internships with people in the neighbourhood who act as ‘carriers of culture’, i.e. citizens and workers who initiate, create or maintain informal social spaces in the neighbourhood that perform a relevant cultural-social and inclusive function. In sincere servitude to the internship, Nickisch will submerse himself into a weeklong experience of working with these prominent people, and be educated in their practise, and from their experiences and perceptions in the role they have in the neighbourhood: as manager of a community center, snack-food seller, or municipal district manager.

For the second stage, Nickisch will invite his mentors to co-create a cultural event with him in the neighbourhood. Apart from providing the neighbourhood with the event, the proces of co-creation itself is subjected to reflection in order for Nickisch to reiterate on his practise of co-creation as an artist-curator: How are equality and reciprocity involved in processes of co-creation?

The third stage involves the co-creation of works of art at the social spaces where the internship took place. These works of art will cary a certain significance to the social place, the internship or the mentor. With the festive ritual of vernissage, the works will become part of the neighbourhood’s scenery and history, as witnesses to the relevance of the social space.

With De Praktikant, Holger Nickisch aims to initiate lasting relationships with the people of this district which do not pertain only to the scope of the project, but -through the medium of art – invest sustainably in the neighbourhood as a communal space.

Progress of the running project will be reported in diary form on the blogpage on this website.

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