Hilke Marit Berger, Art makes Society, 2014-2015, Hamburg

Copyright: Fabian Berger

Hilke Marit Berger, Art makes Society, 2014-2015, Hamburg

Hilke Marit Berger, Kunst macht Gesellschaft, 2014-2015, Hamburg


Artworks labelled as ‘social projects’ are supposed to activate urban societies and guarantee participation – and are thus seen as having political responsibility.

But what does ‘social’ actually mean? What do social networks have in common with social housing and social drinking? For Hilke Marit Berger, it was obvious that, as a term, the ‘social’ is as omnipresent as it is unclear. In everyday use, it means everything and nothing between serving the common good and establishing relationships. Hence, her research project Art makes Society– investigated art projects that deal with the social both as a concept and as content: What is social art? What is the art of the social? How much processuality can the urban administration support? To whom do artists consider themselves responsible? What space remains for critical voices? And who should take on what responsibility?

From these starting points, Berger searched for traces of new figurations of the social in artworks and published her findings as the first part of her research on her blog www.kunstmachtgesellschaft.net. She asked the readers of the blog to participate by contributing their knowledge of social art. This online project, entitled The Social Question (Die soziale Frage, 2014), marked the start of a one-year artistic research project that culminated in the second part, an artistic conference on responsibility (Social Urban Art – A Conference on Responsibility, 2015) – a contribution to the definition of a clearer and more defined concept of social art in cities today.


Researchers: Hilke Berger, Michael Kranixfeld

Co-researchers: geheimagentur, Holger Bergman, Christine Ebeling, Dirk E. Haas, Paula Hildebrandt, Melanie Hinz, Barbara Holub, Thomas Kaestle, Till Wolfer

Participants: Interested public, conference participants, students of the study programme Metropolitan Culture at HCU

Collaboration: Landeszentrale für politische Bildung Hamburg, Heinrich Böll Stiftung Hamburg, Hanseatische Materialverwaltung

Formats: Creating a Media Device, Improbable Assembly