Anyone who has prepared a presentation for university knows how much work is involved. Ideas must be presented clearly and a structure has to be developed. How on earth can this work in a collective? “We sit together at our computers for nine hours without a break and work on a lecture,” explains Pamela Heilig, who belongs to the core team of Contemporary Matters. “Some of us are sitting on chairs dotted around our studio in Seestadt, others join in from home. We work in a hybrid manner.”
For a feminist, queer, global history of art
The objective of the platform Contemporary Matters is revealed by its name: finding a contemporary approach to issues. “We believe that every art history is written in the present,” can be read on the homepage. In other words, the past must be constantly questioned and examined from today’s perspective. How queer, feminist, national or regional was the baroque? Or antiquity? A rigid canon can’t be the solution because this excludes many individuals and interesting approaches.
Contemporary Matters was founded in 2018 by students of history of art in Vienna. The establishment of the platform was motivated by a certain level of dissatisfaction with their studies. “Our aim was to become a platform for content that wasn’t adequately taught at university: Discussions, a global history of art and feminist issues.” In the meantime, most of those involved have completed their studies and live and work in other contexts.
Decisions are taken democratically
The core team of Contemporary Matters consists of seven people but up to 20 can be involved in concrete projects. “This mutual exchange and the diversity of opinions and ideas is one of the most appealing aspects of our work,” explains Pamela. “We decide as a grass-roots democracy and this requires more time. Of course this can sometimes demand patience, but it’s essential for us to hear a range of voices.”