Internship in Private


Saskia Holmkvist initiated a ‘therapy’ which led to conversations between a psychoanalyst, former interns from recent years and the current curators of the art institution Shedhalle. The relation investigated in the work, Internship in Private, is how today’s internships affect the work climate at work and, in extension, the interns’ as well as the employers’ private domain. In the sessions and the video of the meetings produced parallel, the discussion participants describe how they personally deal with symbolic rewards, ambitions, fears, their understanding of collective work, and the implicit hierarchical structures in teamwork. The film is a site-specific downbeat in the institutions Shedhalle that, like many other of today’s work places, partly run their enterprise with the help of highly educated interns.

Placed in a broader context, the project highlights the issue of renumerating interns in small art institutions and spaces which can only afford to pay meagre amounts or often enough nothing at all, although the input of these interns is indispensable for carrying out challenging and discerning programs. There are practically no opportunities available to small- and medium-sized institutions to apply for temporary intern salaries; these have to be paid from the institutions basic financial resources, which given budgetary constraints are limited in scope or not even possible, although an internship in many institutions is tantamount to gaining qualified training in the area of contemporary art.

For more information about the term Generation Praktikum.


Dear Olaf,
I was delighted to recieve the information that you want to participate. I appreciate it enormously. (—)The general debate about the ‘generation praktikum’ is a starting point for my project. A defined group within labour in today’s society working under precarious working conditions. (—) I wanted to make a self-reflexive project about Shedhalle and bring in the situation of the interns of the Kunsthalle. (—) My aim is to represent other voices within the structure of Shedhalle saying other things than the official ones. It’s about finding or re-enacting a situation that is not in the frontline of the institution. My intension is to find personal reflections upon a shared situation in which different roles are played and therefore these persons confront different dilemmas. (—)

Dear saskia,
I find your thoughts and the questions, you want to ask, very interesting. (—)Translated in my terms – I’m a psychoanalyst – I would say, that you are focussing on the unconscious conflicts of the institution “Shedhalle” as a concrete example of a place in which the “generation praktikum” is at work. Perhaps you could say, that it is a work of deconstructing the understanding of an institution or a person or – as the linguistics and in other way Derrida probably would say – a text about itself. And from my point of view I would add to the dilemma of the conflict between the private and the political, which is and would be a conflict between inside and outside, that there are also conflicts – in the same matter – between different aspects of the private, different aspects in the inside and – in the same way – different conflicts in the political or social or normative sphere, that means different conflicts in the outside itself. And there are relations between these conflicts inside and those between inside and outside. (—) Your informations and explications made me imagine why you don’t pose the questions, you want to ask, yourself. This could be, because you want to have or want to get a “therapy session” with the interns of Shedhalle to get not only the official statements and representations. And for such a “therapy session” you want to have a therapist, because he would perhaps be able not only to ask questions but further on to get the conflicts and dilemmas on the point.(—)

Dear Olaf,
(—)I think you analyzed the idea of involving a psychoanalyst very well. To involve a psychonalyst in an artproject is on a symbolical level already a sign that the issue is about a private conflict. Then ofcourse you can contextualize the questions being a psychoanalyst in a much better and much more interesting way than I could being an artist. Also in art everything doesn’t have to be 100% realist which is also something I’m trying to take advantage of in this situation. I believe that the ´missmatch´ of a psychoanalyst together with a political question gives an extra dimension to the thinking about the question. I hope you get me right here.(—)

Title: Internship in Private
Production: Saskia Holmkvist
Participant in project: Soenke Gau, Katharina Schlieben, Christoph Schneider, Valerie Thurner, Lisa Mazza and Olaf Knellessen
Cameras: Magnus Liistamo, Saskia Holmkvists
Light and Sound: Magnus Liistamo, Saskia Holmkvist
Year of Production: 2007
Length of film: 90 min