The German term »Schutzraum« calls to mind a place where one can sit out a catastrophe. Various effects of violence and power structures make many different kinds of protective spaces necessary – for individuals as well as for collectives. Cultures, life styles, certain forms of organization, opinions and convictions, ways of thinking and of expression can all be in need of shelter. On the other hand, all these may function as a refuge. Protective spaces do not necessarily have to be physically manifested places. They can offer short-term survival as well as the long-term establishment of a space that allows for freedom of action. Shelters are exclusive areas, places of retreat, and the fabric of more or less trusting relationships.
In these times, when utilization, (digital) networking and (media) presence is an almost omnipresent demand, protective spaces take on a new significance. The World Wide Web is used as a shelter, at the same time it enables the perfection of surveillance, control and regulation. Collective, self-governed spaces such as those established by the social movements of the 1970s and 80s are being rediscovered. However, such gains are also questioned: critics find fault with their mechanics of exclusion and call for more »diversity« and »transparency«. Spaces offering freedom, and practices of exclusion are near neighbors, even mutually dependent. Strategies of retreat can be the result of threats, fear, exhaustion or listlessness – or an expression of ennui, disobedience and concentration. And a person who uses a shelter for napping is perhaps the herald of a rebellion?
Thealit Lab 2013 aims to explore, question, discuss, conceive, construct and walk through various »protective spaces«. What are the ways and purposes of creating shelters? Which aspects of criticism or self-criticism are taken into account? What are the reasons for retreat as an activist, artistic strategy, and how is it experienced? Are the really good shelters traceable at all? And when does the time come to exit a shelter?
The Art and Theory Laboratory on PROTECTIVE SPACE, including an exhibition (at Kultur im Bunker) and a conference (at Plantage13), takes place in Bremen, 1-8 September 2013. A study group discussing texts on the subject will meet alternately in Hamburg and Bremen from June 2013. Interested persons please send a line to

PROTECTIVE SPACE – Politics Aesthetics Media is curated by Kea Wienand and Monika Wucher. «