enriched by the questions of other artists and the participation of the institution in your survey, the following can be said (with reservations):
The institution itself is based on membership which is a very active membership in most of the cases. That means, members are really engaged and want to get involved. They rely heavily on the employees and the board–on the existing institutional structures. This might be due to artists being involved in the board or advisory board, where decisions are made. The board is the representative of the membership, but there seems to be no information about how they work with the membership. Apart from the membership meetings, there seem to be no spaces to speak, listen and be heard. Perhaps secret ones? You cannot assume that employees can make their needs and questions heard. The lack of space for this raises questions about hierarchical/patriarchal/racist/ableist/adultist structures within the institution.
Your artistic endeavor will be supported by the curatorial direction, who probably also invited you. It is not clear whether they have autonomy over their program–which is a bad sign. The curatorial direction was not chosen by an independent artistic and diverse committee themselves. But they have a secure work position and might dare fighting for you. You can be glad and you will probably feel comfortable because you can openly criticise and collaborate in a sustainable and constructive environment. The curators are leading by example.
The institution itself is not an art bubble; even current political and social issues are discussed on an ongoing basis. The institution considers itself as an international place. The institution understands itself as a site that can be reused or reiterated with the continuous need for additional input. It is interested in socially and politically informed art that looks good. You can’t blame them, but it’s hard to say how interested they really are in social issues. …. De_colonial theories and critical theory do not actually play a role in their programme. As far as their implementation in their own structures is concerned, you need not succumb to any illusions. But they like to be challenged in their perspectives. You’ve taken a job and you really have to get into the institution. They expect you to work closely with them. Organise yourself an assistant! In return, they will support you in case you get legal problems due to the content of your work. If you raise issues that don’t sit well with the institution, you can still rely on their support. However, you must be prepared for a strenuous negotiation process.
»We know that it’s hard: hard to survive, hard to act. It’s hard to remain sensitive to horror in an art world bored by its own obscenity. The rapacious rich are amused by our piety, and demand that we be pious about their amusements. Against a backdrop of prestigious inertia and exhausted critique, it can be hard to marshal our most vital feelings: our anger, our love, and our grief. We know that this society is riven by inequities and brutal paradoxes. Faced with this specific profiteer of state violence, we also find ourselves in a place to act. It is not a pristine place. But we must learn—again, or for the first time—to say no.« (Hannah Black, Ciarán Finlayson, and Tobi Haslett in the essay, ‘The Tear Gas Biennial’ published in Artforum).
The institution is not interested in solutions and methods that would support the current cultural landscape through reparative models. Nor is it interested in counteracting collective action problems as a cultural and social witness, and with local strategies and structures based on union models and commons/decentralisation. It ignores its own past. So no future. Uh-oh.
Since we are already talking about the strings attached, the funding comes from public and private money. You may think this is a good thing, but there are always desires behind this money. It seems, until now, there have been no cases of (self-)censorship concerning topics such as Palestine and any topics which put the financial supporters in a bad light. I assume they just covered it up perfectly. The institution creatively fights any rules and regulations which are limiting to your artistic freedom. The institution is interested in pushing forward transformative changes, including financial transparency. Its aim is to contribute to a decolonizing approach and it accepts a long term challenge for this mission. The institution will take measurable steps in order to contribute and transform itself for the needs of the audience, into a place of resistance and societal change.
The communication culture is mostly transparent and very respectful. They do appreciate conflict and dissent. So it might get heated, but they will also be invested in solution finding. They are sensitive to language, but maybe not in the usage of it. Their understanding of what diversity might mean is oriented toward true inclusion! There is at least potential. They might appreciate you since they understand diversification as an obligation. They will teach you wrong in your own assumptions towards the institution concerning racism, sexism and homophobia at institutions. You will be surprised! You will meet people with an awareness concerning race topics. There is an awareness concerning class. They do have an awareness in terms of gender.
Amazingly there apparently is a procedure in place for any complaints or bad experiences you make within the institution. Unfortunately, you cannot trust that incidents of discrimination and aggression will be dealt with in a constructive way that does not retraumatise those affected. In case of sexual abuse, you are on your own and will not get any support from the institution. It is better not to mention it at all and seek external help. There is no juristic counsel you could deploy and no procedures in the case of a complaint or conflict you may have. In case you need a mediator, this will very likely have to come out of your own pocket. The institution did not have anti-racism training, which would have been a step on the way of becoming a more inclusive institution. At least there is an apparent willingness to participate. There was no other awareness offering. Their understanding of accessibility is really orientated on inclusion. There is a potenial. And the accessibility of the place is questionable. You are responsible for your own well-being while you are working with the institution. The institution has no regard for your psychological well-being. They expect you to function on a neurotypical level. They have no awareness of racist experiences of BIPoC artists. Do not expect to find contacts and support. If you’re planning to bring other non-german speaking artist as collaborators with you, you can be sure they will be included by the institution. At the opening ceremony, the institution won’t care for a translation of the speeches. If their programming is very international, this diversity is probably not reflected in the staff and in the membership. Don’t get fooled by the optics of their program!
Also in terms of artist fees, I would not expect too much. They don’t consider the fee proposals of the BBK for example. Better don’t do it! Whether you get a negotiable contract before you start your exhibition project depends on the artistic direction. It seems that the institution itself, like many other art institutions, does not really recognise the precarious situation most artists find themselves in. The working conditions exploit everyone working in the institution. Badly paid internships are probably an issue. Don’t expect them to have any ressources for hospitality and your wellbeing. You also most probably will have to deal with press issues yourself. The institution won’t offer you any help and taking care of wrongly published information on you and your work. You also won’t be seriously involved in the public media outlet on your exhibition. Censorship might happen. They are aware that the working conditions of artists are a big problem. There should finally be a trade union for artists. They appreciate and admire artists for the work they do and bring to the institution. The institution is ultimately a place for them to test new forms of collaboration and structures.
As an artist: work work work work work–hustle hustle hustle, grind grind grind.
P.S.: 15 of about 336 members, 2 of 12 from the board, 1 artistic direction and 3 of 18 of the employees, freelancers, interns or artists of the current exhibition have taken part in the survey. This gives you an idea of how representative my advice is.