Antje Schiffers

Work exhibited in the Trade Fair Palace:

there is a lot you can do with
Collaborative Village Play I-III / 2021-ongoing / multimedia installation / 4-channel video / Village Assembly on the Future (2021, 33 min), Watermelon Republic (2021, 40 min), The Fish Auctioneer’s Song (2023, 45 min), Old Trees Cast Shadows (2022, 45 min) / prints, textiles, paintings, tractor tire, various objects and materials / Collaborative Village Play I-III is co-created with Katalin Erdődi / courtesy of the artists

Biennale Matter of Art 2024, National Gallery Prague – Trade Fair Palace (c) Jonáš Verešpej

Melons fly from hand to hand at harvesttime, passed on by a chain of pickers. Inspired by this image, the Collaborative Village Play travels between rural communities who shape and transform it. In each place the Village Play gathers new collaborators. Together they build the play from scratch. They use what they find locally, the everyday practices and topics that are important for the group.

Antje Schiffers (lives in Berlin, b. Heiligendorf (Germany), 1967) is an artist who has been working in rural situations for more than 20 years. She collaborates with different people, inviting them to tell their stories, but also to do something different, something out of the ordinary. This is also key to the Collaborative Village Play, which she initiated together with Katalin Erdődi, co-curator of Matter of Art. Since 2021 they have worked in different rural regions of Germany, Hungary and Spain. A melon stand on an open-air market, a fish auction hall on the seaside, a field road with wind turbines have served as their stage. Their collaborators range from farmers, fisherfolk and hairdressers to local bands, dance groups and politicians. The Village Plays are experimental and collectively performed. They give space to a chorus of voices and different opinions. The performances are a rush of stories and actions, including race cars, tractor processions and marching bands. For Matter of Art, Antje Schiffers creates an installation that is like an imaginary “backstage” for the three Village Plays, with all the performance props and films that document the collaboration in each place.

From the artist's archive

Antje Schiffers is a Berlin-based visual artist with a focus on rural cultural production and experimental collaborative practices with artists and non-artists of all professions. She co-founded the international artist collective Myvillages. She uses artistic media as fluid tools for interaction and narration—for example, drawing and painting as means of barter, as props, and for stage-like installations. Her long-term projects include I like being a farmer and I would like to stay one (since 2000), with partners in HU, GB, ES, FR, RO, MK, CH, AT, NL, and ZA, and International Village Shop (since 2007), with partners in RU, GH, GB, CH, ES, NL, DE, RO, and CN. She has had exhibitions in institutions such as Hamburger Bahnhof and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Ludwig Museum, Budapest; Sprengel Museum, Hannover; Kunsthaus Graz; Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen; Moscow Biennale; Secession, Vienna; GfZK Leipzig; ZKM, Karlsruhe; CAAC, Sevilla; MUSAC, León; Whitechapel Gallery, London; and Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles.

Myvillages is an international artist initiative based in Rotterdam, founded by Wapke Feenstra, Kathrin Böhm, and Antje Schiffers. Since 2003 it has been pioneering a new, artist-driven way of producing contemporary art with rural communities worldwide. In collaborative, bottom-up projects, Myvillages challenges entrenched images and power structures in urban–rural cultural relations.