My CHASE placement entailed working for three months part-time as a Praktikant (Intern) at Ostritsch & Widholm Gbr an exciting and young curatorial agency based in Düsseldorf, in North Rhine-Westphalia, in Germany. This terrific opportunity to work behind the scenes at an innovative and small curatorial agency enabled me to undertake both research and operational tasks, including source and data gathering and processing, associated editorial and translation tasks, as well as liaising with clients and assisting with operational duties (event organisation and planning; logistics and travelling; exhibition and installation set-up). I was responsible for collating and translating materials from previous commissions (exhibitions or research projects), in preparation for digital upload and archiving. This involved deploying my academic and professional writing and editing skills that I have gained and nurtured during my PhD course. My placement also enabled me to further build upon my linguistic skills, fostered during my studies with the aid of a CHASE-funded German language course.
It was particularly exciting to be on the ground, meeting with clients and working directly with the managers (in Bonn, Cologne, and Düsseldorf). In particular, it was exciting to get to know and liaise with the local NRW Kunstsammlung, the network of local art museums, and the Kunstverein in Düsseldorf. It was insightful to see how professional and personal networks are built-up and maintained. A specific remit was to develop the firm’s international client-base, which I was able to do thanks to a commission developing concepts for a large cycling exhibition and trade show (http://cyclingworld.de/?lang=en), to be held in Dusseldorf in April 2018. I was assigned with the task of attending talks, events, and exhibitions to gather potential exhibitors, brands, and experts. This involved establishing contacts in the UK and in the Netherlands. I have been working with the artist and cultural historian Oliver Knight, based in London, to secure his participation at the cycling show where he will lecture on the cultural and material history of cycling apparel. I have also established contacts in the Netherlands (in Amsterdam and Eindhoven), notably the photographer and designer Yorit Kluitmann (who has recently published a book on cycling and the Dutch landscape (http://bicycle-landscape.com/shop/). We are hoping to work with Yorit on an exhibition in the near future. It was fascinating to experience working between the office and in the field, to understand how these aspects overlap (this experience is often absent from academic study alone). Whilst my official placement has now ended, my relationship with Ostritsch & Widholm Gbr is ongoing; I will be staying in touch with former colleagues and in attendance this Spring at the cycling exhibition to help implement and install our exhibitions.