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Institution

The European Kunsthalle was and remains an institution with no permanent space. It defines itself as a Kunsthalle to appropriate the potential of this particular form of institution, but also to revise it critically. Having emerged from a specific situation—the demolition of the Josef-Haubrich-Forum in the city center of Cologne—the European Kunsthalle conceives of itself as a project that traces and examines the conditions and structures of an institution of contemporary art without being bound to a permanent space or location.
When the Josef-Haubrich-Forum was demolished in 2002, citizens of Cologne organized their protest by forming a society that initiated the project European Kunsthalle. The intention was to investigate the conditions and practices of curating and exhibiting contemporary art beyond its factual situation in urban space, and to actively participate in the discussions about the transformations of public space, social bonds and political agency as part of the conditions and practices of a newly founded Kunsthalle. During the initial phase of the European Kunsthalle project, one of its most important tasks was to formulate the conditions of a new Kunsthalle for Cologne as part of the public sphere, and as a field of possibilities for today’s heterogeneous realities.
Since the summer of 2005, the European Kunsthalle has tested models of curatorial thought and action as ways of dealing with contemporary art through various formats and exhibitions. The question of what institutional formats work in contemporary cultural and political conditions was central to this. Neither politically authorized nor bound to a specific space, the initially virtual exhibitions—but functioning institutional structures—of the Kunsthalle offered the opportunity to initiate a research process beyond the specific situation in Cologne. The changed conditions of curatorial activity and the shifting cultural and urban structures were therefore as much subject of the initial phase of the project (planned for two years) as were the possibilities of an expanded European context.
From the beginning, the central theme of the project was not the site-specific adaptation of the Kunsthalle model, but the development of an institutional model that opens perspectives for an urban society beyond the nucleus of the art field. Concrete activities such as the one-month event Under Construction—which gathered representatives from art, architecture, sociology, economy and politics for lectures, discussions and presentations in different places across Cologne—contrasted with the more immaterial research of teams of architects on stable and unstable spaces, the results of which were summarized as a publication. With the two-year project European Kunsthalle c/o Ebertplatz (2008/2009) the Kunsthalle shifted its emphasis following the initial nomadic phase. Located in an artist-designed spatial structure by Dorit Margreiter, the Kunsthalle model temporarily operated in a central, vibrant inner city square. The project questioned how an existing space becomes an art space and how it can offer extended possibilities of function and perception. The minimalist, modular structure by Margreiter framed the various exhibition projects, for which artists mostly created new work and reacted to the specific situation they were confronted with. In parallel, between August 2009 and Mai 2010 European Kunsthalle curated the program of the exhibition space Ludlow 38 at the Goethe Institute in New York. During this time it organized a series of exhibitions with internationally renowned, mostly European, artists that had rarely been shown in New York.

The current orientation of the European Kunsthalle focuses once again on decentralized action and cooperation. As an institution without a permanent space, European Kunsthalle is intended as a performative presence and exists wherever its projects take place. Collaborations with Academy of Media Arts Cologne and Kunsthaus Bregenz resulted in the development of exhibitions that at first glance didn’t appear very different to the usual exhibitions at these institutions, but which enabled an immediate reflection on the form of the institutional through the (co-) authorship of the Kunsthalle.

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Current

Semper Depot, Vienna, June 3-17, 2015

Katrin Mayer
Forbidden Symmetries
Letter 01 (European Kunsthalle), Vienna 2015
Lace-Making and Penrose Tiling

In Forbidden Symmetries”, Katrin Mayer combines ideas on quasicrystals and their geometric patterns with the art of bobbin lace-making that is based on mathematical and geometric calculations producing symmetrical patterns. Although bobbin lace is considered a supplementary textile decoration, it follows a complex logic that combines seriality, geometry and an abstract translation of natural forms into ornamentation. “Forbidden Symmetries” transfers a quasicrystalline structure in an expansive piece of lace and thus confronts two systems that show similarities, but also essential differences regarding repeatability, structural rules, historicity and gender.

In his writings, Gottfried Semper (1803-1879) repeatedly draws connections between nodes, networks, braids, lace works, mats, fabrics and architecture. Going back to Semper and his revision of the aesthetic and ideological polarization of surface and substance, autonomous creation and decoration, Katrin Mayer unfolds on site at the historical Semperdepot in Vienna a visual and discursive linking of various considerations on bobbin work as an interaction of intertwined threads. In her project, both the secret language of the bobbin letter and the abstract knowledge transfer of disparate fields are addressed, which in turn create new sets of relationships.

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Coming up

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Archive

Desire Lines. A Symposium on Experimental Institutional Formats

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DAVID ROBERTS ART FOUNDATION, LONDON, 28−29 NOVEMBER, 2014 

In 1967, the British artist Richard Long walked a straight line back and forth across a field in an improvised track, until his steps flattened the grass. Predetermined paths do not always lead to a desirable destination, and they are often not direct enough. Over time, walkers wear away regulated groundcover to create “desire lines,” maps of longing. This project borrows its title from Long’s work in order to reflect on what it presently means for a contemporary art institution to commit to critical modes of working with artists and curators. Its focus on artistic programmes will enable different actors to expand on present-day research interests, modes of production and display, and how these curatorial practices can shape the institution that generates them. The institutions invited for this symposium show divergent concepts of what a contemporary art institution is, how it functions and the social responsibilities behind them. As curators and producers, how do we handle and work with these complexities?

The first day takes the format of a forum on the differences and similarities between the institutions and their respective specificities and strategies, concluding with a discussion mediated by Vanessa Joan Müller (Director, European Kunsthalle). The second day takes a more theoretical stance as speakers discuss notions of desire. In this context, desire is considered as a necessity that is never fulfilled but that always has to be reconstituted, which reconfigures itself according to one’s position and identity; in Lacan’s words, to desire is to answer the question ‘What does the Other desire?’ The day uses the notion of desire as an entry point for discussing the production of an institutional identity: how do we produce desire through a programme of diverse creative activities? What constitutes this desire within an ongoing process of redefinition and self-awareness? How can each organisation’s vision effectively respond to present situations while inspiring audiences, artists and collaborators?

The invited institutions, all founded after 2007 and based in Egypt, Germany, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom have positioned their identities not solely within expectations of the market and audiences, but through their commitment to research and focus on non-traditional programmes and formats. Framed within, yet not defined by, socio-political, economical and spatial contingencies, this symposium presents an opportunity to reflect on how these differences and similarities can be negotiated and transformed into a productive and feasible discourse and practice.

98weeks is directed by Zeina Assaf and co-founded by Mirene and Marwa Arsanios. Based in Beirut (LB) it is conceived as a research project that shifts its attention to a new topic every 98 weeks. Since opening in 2007, it focuses on artistic research, combining both theoretical and practical forms of inquiry.

Beirut is an exhibition space in Cairo (EG), co-directed by Sarah Rifky, Jens Maier-Rothe and Antonia Alampi. Since opening in 2012, it considers institution building as a curatorial act. Beirut hosts artists, artworks, research projects and other institutions (locally, regionally, internationally) that wish to engage with shared questions concerning politics, economy, education, ecology and the arts.

Kunsthalle Lissabon directed by Joao Mourao and Luis Silva is based in Lisbon (PT). It was founded in 2009 as a wish for self-reflexivity for thinking about the existing conditions for the development and perception of a so-called institutional practice.

PRAXES Center for Contemporary Art is a not-for-profit venue for international contemporary art and research based in Berlin (DE). Founded in 2013 by Rhea Dall and Kristine Siegel, it investigates the objects, process and interactions that combined constitute an artistic practice, through half-year cycles centered on the full span of work of two unassociated artists.

Rongwrong is a space for art and theory based in Amsterdam (NL), run by Arnisa Zeqo and Antonia Carrara, with Laurie Cluitmans and Vincent Verhoef. Opened in 2011, it explores recurrent questions concerned with the constant friction between the inner self and the theoretical, professional and artistic practices that describe and inscribe us in daily life.

Desire Lines is a project conceived and organised by Nicoletta Lambertucci (Curator, DRAF) with Sofia Lemos (Curatorial Assistant, DRAF) and produced by DRAF (David Roberts Art Foundation) in collaboration with European Kunsthalle and Goldsmiths MFA Curating.

 

 

On the move

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European Kunsthalle @ Kunsthaus Bregenz, KUb arena, April 27 – June 30, 2013

Yane Calovski, David Maljkovic, Dorit Margreiter, Nick MaussCharlotte Moth, Stephen Willats, Johannes Wohnseifer

Project-based, performative, on the move – is a possible description of the European Kunsthalle’s program. Founded in Cologne in 2005, it exists wherever its projects take place. The European Kunsthalle itself has the attributes of an event, appearing only to disappear and then reappear somewhere else. The stress laid on openness and processes turns the idea of an institution set in a narrowly defined geographical framework into a fluid concept that focuses more on artistic processes. The KUB Arena presentation places the idea of performativity – the appearance and disappearance of temporary artistic spaces – in the foreground. Drawing on certain aspects of past European Kunsthalle activities, it simultaneously presents artistic projects that combine “eventfulness” and an engagement with questions of cultural, social, and institutional spaces.

In this spirit, the artist Dorit Margreiter together with Lina Streeruwitz and Luciano Parodi has conceived an extensive exhibition architecture building on an earlier European Kunsthalle design in Cologne. The Austrian artist created a temporary modular spatial structure in Cologne, whose final—initially unrealized—element is now being brought to fruition in a modified form in Bregenz. Stephen Willats, whose multimedia work In And Out the Underworld for the Ebertplatz square in Cologne brilliantly captured the social aspect of this specific site in 2009, will be presenting this work in a version especially modified for Bregenz.

The Macedonian artist Yane Calovski, whose work revolves around structures of institutional and personal narratives, will be presenting a new work suggesting a subjective reading of the European Kunsthalle’s history, while David Maljkovic in his Display for Lost Pavilion at Metro Pictures, New York and Temporary Projection continues his engagement with presentational forms and their reduction to their objects, developing a film projector without film and a sound system without sound. Johannes Wohnseifer, in contrast, presents a different and unusual use of museum space in a series of photographs – in 1998 he invited skateboarder Mark Gonzales to use specially created sculptures as performance ramps in the rooms of the Städtisches Museum Abteiberg Mönchengladbach. Additionally both Nick Mauss and Charlotte Moth will be developing new works for the Bregenz exhibition.

Following the cooperation with the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven in 2011, the KUB Arena’s present invitation is the second to an institution whose modes of work and program display many parallels with those of the KUB Arena itself. An integral part of the presentation of the EuropeanKunsthalle will be a weekend of events on June 8 and 9, 2013, comprising a program packed with films, lectures, and talks.

Curated by Vanessa J. Müller & Astrid Wege (European Kunsthalle) and Eva Birkenstock & Yilmaz Dziewior (Kunsthaus Bregenz)

 

Lectures, Talks, Films
June 8 / 9, 2013

“Performative Kunsthallen”, Panel with Vanessa Joan Müller (European Kunsthalle), Joao Murao (Kunsthalle Lissabon), Luis Silva (Kunsthalle Lissabon and Astrid Wege (European Kunsthalle)

“No home. The Rise of the Nomadic and the Spatial Turn”,
Lecture by Karen van den Berg (Professor for Art Theory, Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen), Moderation: Eva Birkenstock

“Appearing and Disappearing”, commented film screening with works by Oliver Husain, Matthias Meyer, Charlotte Moth and Mario Pfeiffer

“Temporary Art Spaces”, Panel with Dorit Margreiter (Vienna) and Nikolaus Hirsch (Director Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main), Moderation: Vanessa Joan Müller

“Recount Redrawn”, Artist talk wirh Yane Calovski (Skopje) and Astrid Wege

Melvin Moti

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8 SEPTEMBER–20 OcTOBER, 2012 GLASMOOG, cologne

European Kunsthalle and Glasmoog, the exhibition space of the Media Art School in Cologne, jointly present a solo exhibition by the Dutch artist, Melvin Moti, winner of this year’s ars viva prize. Moti’s films and installations are known for their both subtle and formally radical reflection of the phenomena of visibility and the invisible, often linking them to historical narratives.

In the exhibition “The Cosmic Community”, Moti’s two 35mm films “Eigengrau” (2011) and “Eigenlicht” (2012), conceived as a diptych, will be shown together for the first time. Their titles refer to physiological phenomena – the German terms “Eigengrau” (intrinsic grey), “Eigenlicht” (intrinsic light) – describe the colour seen by the eye in perfect darkness; even in the absence of light, some action potentials are still sent along the optic nerve, causing the “sensation” of a uniform dark grey colour. For both films, a museum collection served as a starting point. In the case of “Eigengrau”, it refers to the famous collection of art and design objects held by the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) in London, whereas “Eigenlicht” responds to the mineralogy collection at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. “Eigenlicht” features rocks which absorb and emit UV light as if they were flying through space, immersing the viewer in the uncanny beauty of these luminous objects by removing any sense of their physical scale. Similarly, “Eigengrau” shows decorative handcrafted objects in slow-paced images of hypnotic beauty, of detachment, of suspension in seemingly weightless disconnection from all points of reference. Comparable to so-called “floaters” (particles on the surface of the eyes that can only be perceived in the fleeting nature of their motion), these objects appear and disappear as ephemeral images on the fine membranes between different worlds of perception.

Melvin Moti (born in 1977, lives and works in Rotterdam and Berlin), has frequently exhibited his work internationally. He has staged solo exhibitions at Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, National Museums of Scotland (Edinburgh), Kunsthalle Lisbon, Mudam (Luxembourg), Wiels (Brussels), Galeria Civica (Trento), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam) and MMK (Frankfurt).

Exhibition venue: 
Glasmoog, Filzengraben 2, 50676 Cologne

Opening hours: Thursday / Friday, 4–7 pm, Saturday 2–6 pm. The screenings start on the hour in an hourly rotation.

Cordially supported by Mondrian Stichting and the Dutch Embassy, Düsseldorf

 

Images from the publication “Eigenlicht”

Art Film Cinema

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8 October 2012, Filmclub 813, Cologne

ART FILM CINEMA starts with films by Manon de Boer, participant of this year’s documenta. She presents her films Two Times 4’33’’ (2008) and Think about Wood, Think about Metal (2011). The screening is followed by an artist talk.

For Two Times 4’33’’ de Boer invited the Brussels-based pianist Jean-Luc Fafchamps to play John Cage’s eponymous composition 4’33” twice in front of a live audience in a studio. Once, with one single still take, the camera films his execution of the ‘silent’ musical composition, complete with the three punctuations indicated on Cage’s simple line score at 1’40”, 2’23” and 30”, which the otherwise still and absorbed Fafchamps interprets by striking a timer.

Filmed on 35 mm film, this first part is married to its synchronously recorded ambient sound. For the second performance, and the second part of her film, De Boer cut all sound, interjecting only with the timer’s click at 1’40” and 2’23” and 30” into the 4’33” filmed performance. The camera travels in a long pan that begins where the first section does, at Fafchamps, but then moves steadily along every member of his audience and finally travels outside the studio door to show a parochial landscape at the edge of the city centre cut through by telephone wires and animated by wind-blown bushes. None of this is heard.

Think about Wood, Think about Metal (2011) by Manon de Boer is a third cinematic portrait in a trilogy on the seventies. The two other films are Sylvia Kristel – Paris (2003) and Resonating Surfaces (2005). The protagonist for this third film is the percussionist Robyn Schulkowsky who works and has worked with composers like John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Derek Bailey, John Zorn, Frederic Rzewski and Christian Wolff. Fragments of the life and thinking of Schulkowsky are situated in the history of avant-garde music during the seventies and after. Rhythm and the non-linear structuring of time play a major part in this film in turning more abstract notions, such as memory, history and life, into a cinematic experience. Often image and sound have their own temporal logic. Sometimes the sound refers back or forward to something which happens before or after in the image. This disrupts the linearity of time, moments of doubt or hesitation arise and the cinematic experience is situated in the here and now of watching and most important listening.

European Kunsthalle @ Ludlow 38, New York

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April 17 – May 16, 2010

Ludlow 38 European Kunsthalle Cologne Goethe-Institut New York proudly presents Lara Almarcegui’s first solo exhibition in the US, featuring Guide to the Wastelands of Flushing River, a new commissioned project, produced during several visits to New York City.

Lara Almarcegui’s research-based work focuses on the varying realities underlying built environments and how excess and absence are manifested in urban design. For this exhibition the artist has explored the urban and environmental fabric of New York City. In a new work with two components, Almarcegui surveys currently unused areas along Flushing River in Queens. Flushing River is only four miles long, but its exploitation has generated a number of spaces currently not used for any particular purposes. Some of these wastelands are now slated for regeneration as natural reserves, parks or residential areas however many of them still offer possibilities to observe processes of decay and wilderness.
The publication Guide to the Wastelands of Flushing River contains photographs from 12 sites in Queens accompanied by concise descriptions that outline the locations’ history, present state and future. Visitors are invited to pick up a copy and explore these sites at their own leisure. A slide installation presents a selection of photographs taken during Almarcegui’s excursions along Flushing River, from its original source via Willow Lake and Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the site for the 1939 and the 1964 World’s Fairs, to its estuary at Flushing Bay.The gallery also offers access to a variety of material pertaining to Almarcegui’s work-in-progress Going Down Into a Tunnel Excavation. The expected outcome of this piece is the organization of a guided tour to ongoing or recently accomplished excavations in the city.
In counterpoint to these new projects a group of earlier works are presented. For Construction Materials Sao Paulo City (2006) Almarcegui computed official data on how much building material was used in the city of São Paulo for its buildings (commercial, residential, institutional and industrial), shantytowns, streets and subway system. Exploring the Floor, Sala Moncada, Fundación La Caixa, Barcelone (2003) is a slide projection documenting the removal and reinstallation of a stone floor in an exhibition venue.

Lara Almarcegui was born in 1972 in Zaragoza, Spain, and lives in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. She has exhibited widely, e.g. at the Liverpool Biennial in 2004, the São Paulo Biennial in 2006, the Gwangju and Taipei Biennials in 2008 and the Ramallah and Athens Biennials in 2009. Recent solo exhibitions include Ruins in the Netherlands at Ellen de Bruijne Gallery, Amsterdam / Pepe Cobo, Madrid, and Bilbao Wastelands at Sala Rekalde in Bilbao, both in 2008.
With Lara Almarcegui’s first solo exhibition in the US, the European Kunsthalle Cologne concludes its curatorial collaboration with Ludlow 38, continuing the emphasis on both the discursive potential of contemporary art and the institutional effort to enable new productions.

The exhibition has received additional support from the State Corporation for Spanish Cultural Action Abroad (SEACEX) and the Directorate General For Cultural And Scientific Relations. Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.

European Kunsthalle c/o Ebertplatz

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The programmatic title stands for a new phase for the European Kunsthalle – one in the form of a new, temporary structure on Ebertplatz in Cologne. The outdoor space was specially designed by Vienna-based artist Dorit Margreiter, who will be representing Austria at the 2009 Venice Biennial.

An extension of the European Kunsthalle’s project office (which opened in the Ebertplatzpassage in June 2008), Margreiter’s design defines a concrete, yet experimentally modifiable spatial framework for contemporary art presentations and events. Art and architecture become catalysts for alternative ways of perceiving and utilizing public space and changing urban structures.

Margreiter delineates her model for a temporary, urban, outdoor Kunsthalle as a modular choreography that is realized gradually over time. “European Kunsthalle c/o Ebertplatz” aims at a communicative exchange between art and the broader public. It is conceived as a framework for developing an audience both through and with art – questions central to any contemporary art institution.

Images:
1) Dorit Margreiter, Space concept for the European Kunsthalle c/o Ebertplatz, 2008, Rendering: © SHBK

2) Installation views

KölnShow2

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April 19 – Mai 26, 2007

The constitutional concept of the exhibition, curated by Nicolaus Schafhausen and Florian Waldvogel, ties up to “The Köln Show” in 1990, a so far unique joint venture of nine Cologne based galeries. They organised an exhibition with at that point unknown artist, many of them having their names in the art world today.

In the 1980s and early-90s, the city of Cologne was one of the most important centres for contemporary art in Europe. With its many galleries, artist run-spaces, and artist bars, the city assumed a kind of mythological dimension, a place where artists came to show, sell, socialize, and distinguish themselves and their work on levels symbolic and real, depending on the conditions of the urban surrounding. “The Köln Show” examined, consciously without institutional help, the specific relationship between art production, art scene and artmarket in Cologne in 1990.

Aiming at a future-orientated new foundation of a Kunsthalle in Cologne, the European Kunsthalle takes this now almost historical venture up. As one of the last projects of the European Kunsthalle during its two-year founding and research process, the exhibition “KölnShow 2” approaches directly the cultural activities of the city of Cologne. The exhibition presents a selection of the young international art scene in the spaces of the participating galleries, parallel to their own program. Using the temporal distance  from the year 2007 to “The Köln Show” in 1990, the exhibition reflects on contemporary general frameworks of cultural prosperity and artistic production in Cologne.

Rounding up the two-year founding phase the European Kunsthalle focuses on its actual position and departing point in Cologne. Departing from the analysis of the cultural infrastructure of urban communities, it is considered essential for the research to examine the network of galleries and art mediators as an important factor of a cultural habitat and their current potential. Utilising the spaces and possibilities of the galleries, the exhibition project asks which significance is taken up by them within artistic discourse. Which structural changes occurred and may be read from the resultant development from 1990 until today?  
   
Participating Galleries: BQ, Daniel Buchholz, Luis Campana, Gisela Capitain, Fiebach & Minninger, Frehrking Wiesehöfer, Vera Gliem, Hammelehle und Ahrens, Michael Janssen, Johnen + Schöttle, Linn Lühn, Mirko Mayer, Christian Nagel, Thomas Rehbein, Sabine Schmidt, Schmidt Maczollek, Sprüth / Magers, Otto Schweins

 

David Blandy, Galerie Vera Gliem

For his video works, British artist David Blandy (1976, London) makes use of a great store of pop culture wares, which he replays in different ways. From computer games, films, and comics to language and music, he appropriates cultural practices and examines them for their potential to shape groups and identities. In I Am (2003/04) Blandy reanimates and personalizes a key scene from the film Star Wars. At the kitchen table, the artist and his father face each other, while
the underlying voices of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker speak the scene in which Skywalker learns that Darth Vader is his father. The video, which will be shown in the Galerie Vera Gliem, is a humorous examination of the ambivalent relationships between father and son. In the Barefoot Lone Pilgrim series (2004/06) Blandy goes on adventures that are based on the computer game, Street Fighter Zero 2, anticipating the journey of protagonist Ryu and his quest to perfect his martial arts practice. By editing his own quest for soul (music) together with different film segments, Blandy turns his video into a filmed version of a Bildungsroman influenced by popular and media culture. The process of forming identity is defined by the imitation and partial appropriation of fictional roles, as well as roles characteristic of other cultures.

 

Simon Denny, Galerie Sprüth Magers

The works by New Zealand artist Simon Denny (1982, Auckland) have an inner tension that results from the simultaneity of motion and standstill. For one, his sculptures require walls in order to maintain their stability, and at the same time, resist their limitations. Insecure and avoiding direct touch, they stand in the space as individual objects on narrow strips or thin boards of wood, thus arising doubts as to their stability. Woolen blankets and raw, industrially produced wooden boards enter into fragile relationships with plastic bags, pieces of clothing, balloons, and (news) papers. The seemingly just crumpled up and abandoned pieces of fabric tell of their function, their ephemeral existence as useful objects, and of the artist’s work. In the Galerie Sprüth Magers the viewer awaits a melancholy setting for ambivalence, exemplarily expressed in a static wall piece that is invisibly stilled by electricity.

 

Maya Hayuk, Galerie Schmidt Maczollek

Maya Hayuk (1969, Baltimore, Maryland) designs advertising posters, CD covers, T-shirts, and skateboard images, paints on the walls of barns and houses, in skateboard parks and hotel rooms; and also does drawings and photographs. Hayuk’s large radius of action is closely related to her interest in collaborations of very different kinds. The works by the American artist develop their own dynamic out of cooperative projects with other artists and musicians, as well as with a storehouse of forms and images that come from various cultures and contexts. Hayuk, who shows a mural in the Galerie Schmidt Maczollek, activates the many different influences and incorporates them into her visual world. In flowing movements and strong colors, plant worlds pour forth into a pop paradise. In other images, the tangled lines of organic patterns or geometrical shapes spread out, giving rhythm to the seemingly impetuous compositions. Naked people knot into orgiastic gatherings or explore each other in the most intimate of ways: their arms penetrate each others’ bodies and are transformed into trees and leaves. In Hayuk’s images the notion of happy co-existence is announced in a “Kingdom of Awesome.”

 

William Hunt, Performance

The works by British artist William Hunt (1977, London) are rooted in the performances of the nineteen-sixties and seventies. In Rodeo/Radio (2004) he stands on an oversized, revolving record, playing guitar and singing along until he falls off, then gets up again and keeps singing. As this reoccurs at continually shorter intervals, the boundaries of physical tolerance are explored. In his performances, Hunt is the isolated individual at the mercy of various dangerous situations, which he contrasts with social activities or forms of communication such as singing. Due to the physical effort or because as in Put Your Foot Down (2006) Hunt sits for twenty minutes singing underwater in a BMW, while breathing through an oxygen tank, his singing can barely be understood. The communicative dimension of songwriting is lost in apparently empty gestures. In his works, the artist mimes great deeds that remain trapped in a tragic, endless loop consisting of great attempts and ultimate failures, so that the audience is left sensing an indefinable emotion.

 

Jesper Just, Johnen + Schöttle

In his films young Danish artist Jesper Just (1974, Copenhagen) allows narrative structures from different genres to flow into each other. The brilliance of his images, their compressed content, and the minimized activities of the characters conjure up the visual clichés of classic Hollywood films and at the same time recall staging techniques used in advertising or theater productions. Invitation to Love (2003) is set in a distinguished, painting-filled room of an historical building. The cool aura of the place and the still gazes of the figures in the portraits form the perfect backdrop for the extremely isolated actions of the people in the room. The plot deals with two men; the older attempts to approach the younger – first through surreptitious gestures, then later, encouraged by a third person, through a ridiculous dance on the table. This work, which Just presents at Johnen + Schöttle, is one of a series of films that circles around the relationship between an older gentleman and a young man without dissolving the psycho-emotional constellation in which the two relate to each other. Instead, in their ambiguity, the suggestive images offer a perfect projection surface for the viewer’s personal experiences.

 

Marijn van Krij, Sabine Schmidt Galerie

On walls or sheets of A4-size paper Dutch artist Marijn van Kreij (1978, Middelrode) designs his worlds out of colorful flecks of paint, black-and-white strokes, words, and sentence fragments. He often creates several practically identical works, upon which thoughts that have apparently just been developed are manifested: notes are made and then crossed out again, “mistakes” are repeated. In this kind of doubling, Van Kreij formalizes the coincidental and emphasizes
the conscious process of composition that is behind the seemingly random works on paper. The thought processes, which are supposedly private, highly subjective, and unfiltered in their references to dream worlds, are frequently revealed as assemblages of lines from songs. Starting with fragments of text from musical culture, a puzzle develops made of associations and concept. In this way, Van Kreij has created an accessible mental space for the KölnShow2 at the Sabine Schmidt Galerie. In “A Thought the Size a Pencil”, a Brain the Size an Eraser emerges from photographs taken during short walks around the neighborhood of the gallery a mural that – in a confusing play of lines – brings together space and time. The playful title, taken from a scientific article about brain transplants, also instigates many different associative thoughts.

 

Germaine Kruip, Galerie Mirko Mayer

In her interventions, Dutch artist Germaine Kruip (1970, Castricum, Niederlande) turns the viewer into the actual protagonist of her works. In stage-like spaces set up with minimal means, the viewer becomes aware of himself and his perception, which becomes a component of the work. Kruip makes use of a site’s conditions, such as the play of light and shadow in a room or a view of the outdoors, artificially doubling them and thus subjecting them to manipulation. This process of reflection questions the relationship between fiction and reality, authenticity and representation. For her continuously expanding work, Image Archive, which can be seen at Galerie Mirko Mayer, the artist collects images from newspapers and magazines that seem suspect to her and have spontaneously drawn her attention. Kruip takes two images each, that in their similarity awaken doubts about their journalistic validity, and unites them in double projections. This in turn poses questions that go beyond the usual reservations about photography’s ability to represent true reality: are the pictures authentic depictions or constructs of reality made out of a collective visual memory?

 

Chris Lipomi, Galerie Luis Campana

American artist Chris Lipomi (1975, Miami) combines everyday industrial products to create “exotic” objects. By contextualizing these ready-mades, he explores the economics of attention in a globalized world, revealing the notion of the exotic as a racist construct of western cultures. Through several shifts of context, Lipomi draws the recipient’s attention to the aesthetic background of the works, as well as to their double role as functional items. His works recall familiar ceremonial objects from ethnological institutions, and also refer to their own logic of valuation and the function of aesthetics as a component of cultural, evolutionary techniques of ascription. Lipomi shows a series of works at Luis Campaña, which convinces us that the transformation of familiar material into an aesthetic language can serve as a tool for an emancipating kind of cultural critique.

 

Pere Llobera, Galerie Sprüth Magers

The paintings of the Spanish artist Pere Llobera (1970, Barcelona) are a multi-layered mixture of private worlds and seemingly humble, ordinary moments. His thematic and stylistic plurality avoids obvious classification. Llobera’s timeless panoramas frequently contain historic citations, which he employs in a system of universal relationships. What is past carries already the future in itself. This kind of hermeneutics makes it difficult to clearly define Llobera’s works. They are marked by calculation, precision, and great seriousness. Through this they convey a sense of the melancholy of failure, a feeling of incompleteness,  and the crisis of the ego in us all. In the Galerie Sprüth Magers Llobera shows a series of works derived from archaic and classic motifs. His panoramas refer to historical and current meanings whose dichotomous content is intimated by the narrative structure of the paintings.

 

Keegan McHargue, Galerie Luis Campana

The place where the creatural meets the boundless breadth of the cosmos is where Keegan McHargue (1982, Portland, Oregon) creates his visual worlds. Hybrid fantasy creatures and humans, and seemingly complex mechanisms populate the paintings and drawings by the young American artist. What seems to be a figurative visual program with narrative content becomes independent on the visual plane, turning into colorful ornaments, interwoven lines, or planet-like bodies. The theme of McHargue’s works, which will be seen at Luis Campaña, is the transitions between the different states of an image. In them it is possible to see the boundaries where the interaction among the figures is dissolved, where they stand isolated from each other on the visual plane, where apparently narrative references turn into formal contexts and visionary images of the world and heroic poses become the technocraticabysmal. McHargue’s resembles a bricoleur who brings together existing visual codes, art historical references, and cultural experiences and turns them into multi-layered clusters of visual information.

 

Gareth Moore, Galerie Daniel Buchholz

Canadian artist Gareth Moore (1975, Matsqui, British Columbia) is interested in questions of proportion, materiality, and the hierarchy of perception. He adapts everyday objects and situations, and ennoblizes them – not without humor – in the context of art. Moore is an archeologist of the present day who shifts our view of reality by the combination of different materialities and the transformation of the perspective. Yet this interest in seemingly ordinary things that are not capable of charging themselves with emotion is, however, an exploration of the economy of attention in the present capitalist era. Moore succeeds in subversively questioning our behavior as recipients. For the KölnShow2 he takes us on a journey filled with poetic visual histories through the antiquarian bookshop at the Galerie Daniel Buchholz.

 

Tuan Andrew Nguyen, Thomas Rehbein Galerie

The Proposals for a Vietnamese Landscape (2006/07) by Tuan Andrew Nguyen (1976, Ho Chi Minh City) undermine the forms of representation traditionally supported by the government. The artist, who studied in Los Angeles but is now once again living in Vietnam, worked on this series with an elderly painter from Ho Chi Minh City. Educated in conformance with the government, the older painter creates realistic images of Vietnam in the process of transforming itself. Nguyen makes use of an increasingly popular youth culture and intervenes in the oil paintings by adding graffiti. Names and therefore individualities claim their place in the images of life in Vietnam today, somewhere between socialist and westernized consumer propaganda. Besides the promise of freedom, however, the English symbols in the graffiti of Nguyen’s interventions seem to display a loss of cultural identity. Consumption and politics peaceably make use of the national language, while the young sprayers communicate in English. Along with the oil paintings, the video “Spray It Don’t Say It” (2006) will be shown in the Thomas Rehbein Galerie; in various interviews, the video searches for this illegal form of articulation, instrumental in the formation of groups.

 

João Onofre, Galerie Sprüth Magers

In the Galerie Sprüth Magers the KölnShow2 presents the 2002 video work, Untitled (Vulture in the Studio), by Portuguese artist João Onofre (1976. Lisbon). The video shows a vulture flying back and forth between tables and shelves in the artist’s narrow studio. With every beat of its wings, at every start and landing, the bird sweeps various utensils from tables. The video ends when the last object is lying on the ground. In Untitled (Vulture in the Studio) Onofre deconstructs the question of nature vs. nuture that marks civilization’s self-image. All of the artist’s works employ characteristics of 1960s video art and are dominated by a performative process. Onofre creates series of experiments and directions for performative action for his protagonists, while the process is recorded by the camera, thus determining the length and range of the works.

 

Hannah Rickards, Galerie Michael Janssen

For her works, London-based artist Hannah Rickards (1979, London) reproduces natural sound landscapes. In Birdsong (2002) she imitated birdsongs and recycled them back into the ecosystem. In KölnShow2 she presents her sound installation, Thunder (2005/06). Thunder is an 8-minute composition involving a thunderclap, arranged by Rickards and composer David Murphy. Their composition is based on a real thunderclap, which was extended to a length of eight minutes and subsequently recreated by an orchestra. The orchestral improvisation was then shortened to again match the original length of the thunderclap. The result can be heard in the entryway of Galerie Michael Janssen.

 

Aïda Ruilova, Frehrking Wiesehöfer

The central theme in the filmed works of American artist Aïda Ruilova (1974, Wheeling, West Virginia) is the human creature as someone who carries the meaning of everyday violence. Her films recite psychic and physical pain, putting the person who feels pain back on the elementary level of anonymous existence. The Stun (2000), a film Ruilova presents at Frehrking Wiesehöfer, features a woman opening up the mouth of a man. The characters remain static, the atmosphere is gloomy, the image grainy, and the frame shakes, which only seems to underscore the suffering without sense. Whereas in Francis Bacon’s Study after Velázquez: Pope Innocent X the different variations of the cry were still a metaphor for pain and the expression of longing for salvation, The Stun makes one aware of a transcendental homelessness.

 

Margaret Salmon, Galerie Gisela Capitain

American photographer and filmmaker Margaret Salmon (1975, Suffern, New York) presents her two films, Peggy (2003) and P.S. (2002), in the Galerie Gisela Capitain. The artist, who is based in Kent, sees her films in the tradition of Italian neorealism, French cinéma vérité, and American propaganda from the Farm Security Administration. Salmon works with traditional film formats, 16mm and Super 8, trying to let the portrayed people speak for themselves, free of the filmmaker’s possible interpretations. In her films, the winner of this year’s MaxMara Art Prize avoids all additional effects in order to bring the viewer even closer to the everyday realities of her protagonists, and to exclude any type of ideological interpretation.

 

Fernando Sánchez Castillo, Galerie Fibach & Minninger

In his videos and sculptures Fernando Sánchez Castillo (1970, Madrid) searches the course of history for interruptions and the absurd. His careful analyses begin with leftovers from the past, which have often been symbolically retained to this day in the form of monuments or statues. The video Rich Cat Dies of Heart Attack in Chicago (2004), which the Spanish artist shows in the gallery Fiebach & Minninger, takes its title from the headline of an article that appeared in 1968 in a large Brazilian newspaper, at the time when Brazil, having gone through a gradual coup d’etat, outlawed freedom of the press. The article did not deal with immediate, relevant events, but instead with the ultimately banal. In his images, which – despite their principally violent scenes – are aesthetically modeled through visual language and music, Sánchez Castillo presents the circular motion of history. Over the course of the film, in unintentionally comic choreography, groups of people work over the separated head of a bronze statue, finally burying it battered in a field. A farmer finds this meaningful relict and as a watering trough for donkeys gives it a new, unreflected place in everyday life, and therefore a new function. In their composed sequence, Sánchez Castillo’s images recollect Nietzsche’s disbelief in the great revolution and the progressive course of history.

 

Karen Sargsyan, Galerie Christian Nagel

Stillness, timelessness, and fragmented nostalgia characterize the atmosphere in Karen Sargsyan’s (1973, Jerevan, Armenia) installations made of paper. In his objective environments the recipient – as soon as a detail calls up the collective memory – is required to define his place. In this way, the still image is turned into history. The installations function as open stages for ideas, which help to save the collective. Theme of the works is, without exception, the fairytale-like scenario existing between civilization and nature. At the same time the paradisiacal idyll is far distant. Instead, the landscapes reflect the human being’s conflicted relationship to culture and nature. The presence of tracks keeps the (landscape) impressions in an ambivalent tension. For the KölnShow2, Armenian artist Karen Sargsyan developed a new work especially for the office of Galerie Christian Nagel, continuing with the dichotomous system of references used in his previous works.

 

Andrew Schoultz, Galerie Linn Lühn

The drawings, murals, and installations by San Francisco artist Andrew Schoultz (1975) are populated by symbolic figures that recall past eras and cultures. Armored horses with banners burst through the image, and Mongolian warriors conjure up notions of the overly powerful, strangely misplaced in time, in a world full of smokestacks scattered among simple log cabins, pylons, and fragmenting nature. Schoultz develops his works out of the problems of modern, consumer-oriented life. In using his murals to work with either public space or the art space, he tries to trigger processes of association and thought that in no way require a corporate identity, but instead offer the viewer a wide-open field. Schoultz attempts to awaken in the viewer a consciousness based upon an individual sensibility for a responsible treatment of natural life, in order to (re)activate knowledge about nature in our present, culturally characterized time. For the KölnShow2 Schoultz creates this kind of free mental space in a mural and several drawings at the gallery Linn Lühn.

 

Kwang-Ju Son, Galerie Hammelehle und Ahrends

Rich and vain Mr. Jae-Won has a blind date with a young painter in a café called Brandenburg. On the way, he asks himself who is his favorite composer of classical music. The drive then turns into a journey through various epochs, styles, and times. In Punk Eek (2004) by Kwang-Ju Son (1970, Corea), reality and the view of reality are always blurring. The car radio and Mr. Jae-Won discuss Chopin, Beethoven, and Mozart, and street vendors fight each other over the issue of whether the future of classical music is to be found in Schönberg’s serialism or Weber’s free tonality. After Mr. Jae-Won has finally found the answer to the film’s original question, right when the young woman in the café asks him who his favorite painter is, his “reflexive mechanism” (Niklas Luhmann) ultimately plunges him into a deep crisis.

 

Kostis Velonis, BQ

As a sculptor, Kostis Velonis (1968) creates fragile constellations of objects, in which he tests the balance of bodies, places large next to small, and combines industrially made products with unformed materials. In his works the Greek artist explores modernist architecture and functional design, and adds imaginary plots that often come into play via the titles of the works. Velonis’ sculptural arrangements overcome axes of time and geography, because they connect the fleeting memory of the original materials and the many narrative threads they unfold with the presence of the materials at hand. Sometimes they act space consuming, are auratic, and investigate collective cultural knowledge, while the next moment they appear antimonumental, making room for individual sensibilities and the subject’s world of emotion and experience, for his moods, fears, and dreams. The tableaux of objects, some of which Velonis shows at BQ, seem to be situatively erected still lifes that offer the viewer many different possible ways to access them.

 

Tris Vonna-Michell, Galerie Otto Schweins

Much of the history of human civilization is based in oral tradition. In his spoken performances British artist Tris Vonna-Michell (1982) connects to this tradition. His oral enactments blend elements of stand-up comedy and documentary reporting with the narrative structures of dramatic monologues and street slang. The appearances are based on a preconceived script that is modified at the moment of performance and through interaction with the audience. Vonna-Michell’s narratives touch upon historical events, using them as plots for biographical recollections and the reconstruction of past occurrences. Photographs, text material, film sequences, and objects from the context of everyday life support the artist in his lectures. However, it remains open if these materials are props in a fictional setting, or if they are evidence of a situation the artist has lived through and thus have a documentary relationship to reality. In this liminal space between fact and fiction, the artist’s rapid style of speaking and London accent give the narrative authenticity and immediacy. In the context of the KölnShow2 Vonna-Michell has developed a new work that reflects the decentralized exhibition concept.

Models for Tomorrow

V

2 March – 28 April, 2007, 22 places in Cologne

Within the Framework of “Models for Tomorrow: Cologne”, twenty-one artists show their designs for a new exhibition hall at both extraordinary and ordinary cultural sites in downtown Cologne. The sketches, planes, and models produced especially for this exhibition by international artists deal with two themes: the architecture for the new exhibition space and concepts for its possible use. Artists’ pragmatic approaches are shown alongside works with utopian potential.

During the phase of its foundation, the European Kunsthalle does not have its own exhibition space. For Models for Tomorrow: Cologne, the institution uses the urban space with its range of publicly accessible sites. For the exhibition, a ring-shaped parcours has been set up in downtown Cologne that invites the art audience to walk along its path. The exhibition venues offer various spatial concepts with varying opening times, represent commercial or public interests, and are highly popular or exist on the city’s periphery. They show that answers to the question regarding the future profile of the European Kunsthalle might already be there in one of the city’s resources: its spaces. Moving toward the end of this two-year founding stage, the European Kunsthalle uses this exhibition to direct special attention to its specific location and starting point.

Curated by Nicolaus Schafhausen, Vanessa Joan Müller, Julia Hoener. Spatial concept by Nikolaus Hirsch, Markus Miessen, Philipp Misselwitz, Matthias Görlich (Spaces of Production).

 

Lawrence Weiner: _+_Put Wheresoever, 2007

subway stop Dom/Hbf, Mon–Sun 0 am–12 pm

Lawrence Weiner (*1942) is considered to be one of the most important conceptual artists of today. Language and text are his forms of expression, and he uses them to create works that exist beyond their material manifestations, regarding the mental concept of the work as being equal to its transformation into the object-state. In Weiner’s logo-like design for “Models for Tomorrow: Cologne,” two white rectangles represent a spatial vacuum of no specified size, which can be placed “wheresoever.” According to this concept, the Kunsthalle is attached to no particular space, but exists instead wherever the art is on display: the art defines the institution. Weiner also gives his artistic design the flexibility he prescribes for 
the Kunsthalle. The artist has not determined the exact execution, materials, or size of his work, but rather, these things are to be dictated by the situation into which his proposal will be integrated.

 

Pia Rønicke: Model for Cinema, 2007
Hilton Cologne

Hilton Cologne, Marzellenstrasse 13–17 , Mon–Sun 0 am–12 pm

Pia Rønicke (*1974) built a miniature cinema in the lobby of the Hotel Hilton Cologne, where she shows three of her films that reflect upon the utopian potential of modern architecture. How do social visions change during the process of realization? How are utopian designs made to fit social realities? Conversations with architects about a zone that was planned for industry but has been transformed into a residential area and urban space as a “multi-compatible system in constant change” (“Zones,” 2005) are shown next to a story edited together out of documentary photographs about the Schindler House in Los Angeles, a home famous in the 1920s and ’30s as an example of alternative, utopian residential architecture (“The Life of Schindler House,” 2002), and an animated film about a modular residential complex originating in the spirit of self-regulated systems (“Cell City – A System of Errors,” 2003). What all of the films have in com mon is the way they reflect upon the beauty of the utopian (in terms of both content and aesthe-tics), its antagonistic relationship to real life, and the tense relationship between vision and a sense of estrangement.

 

Vito Acconci / Acconci Studio: Interiors. Buildings. Parks. 2004 (Film by Julia Loktev)

Tele Café Köln – Am Dom, An den Dominikanern 3, Mon–Sun 9am–11 pm

Vito Acconci (*1940) first became known for his performance and video art in the 1970s. Since then his work has developed in the direction of audio-visual installations. The nature of public space and the situation of art institutions inside their urban architectural environment comprise the current theme of his architectonic designs. In “Models for Tomorrow: Cologne” Acconci will show a selection of computer-animated models of public squares, interiors, and especially architectural structures, which are not only attractive jewels in urban structure, but also deal with the theme of the space in which the individual visitor acts. The DVD can be seen on a monitor reserved especially for the purpose in a commercial Internet café, the „Tele Café Köln–Am Dom.“ As a phenomenon, the Internet café is a typical post-public hybrid of private telecommunications and collective consumption of the same. Here, Acconci’s virtual work meets a post-public audience, parts of which are only present through the various communications channels in Cologne.

 

Superflex: Ebberød Bank in der Deutschen Bank, 2007

Deutsche Bank Privat- und Geschäftskunden AG, Investment- und FinanzCenter An den Dominikanern 11–27, Mon, Thu 9 am–6 pm, Tue, We 9 am–4 pm, Fri, 9 am–3:30 pm

The group of Danish artists known as Superflex (Bjørnstjerne Christiansen *1969, Jacob Fenger *1968, Rasmus Nielsen *1969) has been working on projects, actions, and installations dealing with alternative economic perspectives since the early 1990s. Guided by social demands for sustainability, participation, and self-organization, their so-called “tools” are set up as open-ended scenarios, which include their audience as an active component of the work. For the exhibtion, they use a Deutsche Bank investment and financial center as a stage, where a film called “Ebberød Bank” will be shown on a monitor in the hall. The 1943 Danish family comedy is about a small businessman who tries to revolutionize his profession by turning the loan business upside down. With this film, Superflex addresses the bank’s usual customers as well as the exhibition visitors – who are often one and the same – and thus refers to the traditional middle-class net work of economic and cultural capital as a constitutive institutional practice.

 

Luca Frei: Once again we have changed the means of communication But not their content, 2006–2007

Chamber of Industry and Commerce Cologne, Unter Sachsenhausen 10–26, Mon–Fri 8 am-7 pm

The installations by Swiss artist Luca Frei (*1976) explore the fine line between public and private expression and modes of action, generating their own possible spaces where the strict separation of these two spheres is productively overcome. His modular wooden system consists of different modernist, geometric objects which could function as a flight of stairs, a bookshelf, or a chair, and thus follows a line of open-ended, associative possibilities. The work’s potential indeterminacy is increased by the way the elements are casually distributed throughout the semi-public passageways of the service center at the Chamber of Commerce in Cologne: Some elements are placed in prominent positions and invite use, while others are surprising, apparently forgotten in the peripheral corners and ends of the corridors. In this way, Frei appropriates ordinary paths and activities for his interactively oriented system, which both uses and disturbs the institutional space.

 

Sean Snyder: Untitled, 2007

Library of the historical 
archive of the archbichopric Cologne, Gereonstraße 16, Tue, Thu, Fri 9 am–4 pm

In his photographs, texts, and video works, American artist Sean Snyder (*1972) investigates the role ascribed to mass media in the construction of urban space. In doing so, he directs his attention to the mechanisms of media representation and their ideological implications. His contribution to “Models for Tomorrow: Cologne” is a set of reference text material on the typology of a new institution for contemporary art. Snyder’s loose genealogy of various institutional models is condensed into a specific proposal for a new exhibition site and ways to mediate it. The work stems just as much from personal experience as from archival image and text material on existing museum sites. The visual codes of an extremist propaganda ma-chine are also integrated into his research, while their suitability as communication tools is tested. This turns his proposal into an institutional platform that crosses the axes of time and ideological boundaries to describe an expanded sphere of action.

 

Haegue Yang: Series of Vulnerable Arrangements – Version Cologne, 2007

Statthaus, Steinfelder Gasse 33, 24h visible through window, access Mon 4:30–6:30 pm
, Thu 2–4 pm

For “Models for Tomorrow: Cologne,” Korean artist Haegue Yang (*1971) has set up a light installation in a foyer in an agency that offers temporary housing for its clients. The darkened lights oscillate in an inbetween space, where they are neither practical lighting for a space, nor do they remain entirely self-referential. Yang’s work, “Series of Vulnerable Arrangements – Version Cologne,” focuses the eye on light itself and its primordial significance: making things visible. At the same time, as an optical phenomenon, light draws attention to itself – it has an alluring aura, so to speak.
The illuminated phenomenon has a double meaning subtly smoldering below the surface of the visible, and in it the artist discovers an analogy to the state of communities and the invisible webs of relationships into which individuals are woven. Yang’s answer to the question of how to redefine the characteristics of a new Kunsthalle is an open field of associations that revolves around both the sensual function of light and its ability to make things visible.

 

Michael Beutler: Halle neben Beeten, 2007 

Square in front of Vic Cocktailbar, Friesenstraße 16, Mon–Sun 0 am-12 pm

Michael Beutler’s (*1976) installations refer to extant, situative contexts. These may affect a particular piece of architecture, a state of society, or simply the needs of anyone who commissions a work. Beutler’s design for a new Kunsthalle in Cologne is not linked to any location in specific. Rather, it has to do with a universal urban situation, where there are few undeveloped pro-perties and no financial resources to realize architectural projects intended for cultural purposes. Beutler’s architectural ensemble is cubist-modernist and will be inserted into a gap between two other buildings. The Kunsthalle is conceived as a parasitical construct, which pragmatically and cost-efficiently makes use of pre-existing buildings, and functions as a flexible shell for different uses. Beutler’s contribution proposes that the solution to questions of location and financial issues lies in the specific type of architecture. Moreover, the architecture itself allows conclusions to be drawn about changing public space.

 

Erik van Lieshout: Kunsthalle Hollywood, 2006

Sportlounge Michael Janson, Im Klapperhof 33c, Mon, Thu 12 am-3 pm, Fri 4 pm- pm, So 2 pm-6 pm

With his drawings, videos, and installations, Erik van Lieshout (*1968) confronts the public in a provocative manner. Starting with himself and his environment, he designs spheres of action that not only determine the experience and setting for the figures in his images, but also for the viewer’s perception. For the exhibtion, the artist has created small drawings that will be shown in the intimate surroundings of a private gym. His theme is the Kunsthalle as social space – the “Kunsthalle Hollywood.” Van Lieshout poses questions about how things are staged and popularized within the traditional presentational context of the exhibition space. With its aesthetics of glamour, kitsch, and trash, the “Kunsthalle Hollywood” is a place that satisfies desires and creates dreams. In van Lies-hout’s work, the art space appears as a space for the staging of a society made up of short-lived identities.

 

Tue Greenfort: TENT, 2007


Christian Science Church Cologne, Albertusstraße 45a, Mon, Wed 4-7 pm, Tue, Thu 10 am-1 pm

Tue Greenfort’s (*1973) artistic works are often the result of specific ecological, economic, and societal analyses. What starts as research takes aesthetic shape through the information and material he collects on the theme. So Greenfort’s work for “Models for Tomorrow: Colgne” refers to the “Tanzbrunnenzelt” created in 1957 for the Bundesgartenschau in Cologne by German architect Frei Otto. It serves as a basis for Greenfort‘s ideas on alternative building methods. “TENT” is a delicate construct of various materials, including photographs of advertising billboard–Greenfort’s subjective mapping of downtown Cologne’s post-public, attention-dependent economy. Despite its formal language, borrowed from architectural models, it is more of a plea for flexible architectural structures than an actual miniature of a fictional building. Presented in the reading room of the First Church of Christ, “TENT” designates a possible point in the coordinate system of vision, knowledge, marketing, missionizing, improvisation, and institution.

 

Alex Morrison: Don’t let them see us, don’t show them what we are doing, 2007

Bookstore Walther König, Ehrenstraße 4, Mon–Fri 10 am-7 pm, Sat 10 am-6 pm

In his works, Canadian artist Alex Morrison (*1972) takes social groups in the urban context as the starting point for an exploration of public space. He examines how far radical subcultures can be perceived as authentic in times of media commercialization. His contribution to the exhibition “Models for Tomorrow: Cologne” is a sandwich board that announces midnight bike rides in the city of Cologne. This purely fictional action is based on the politically motivated “mass rides” by bicy-clists in the USA. Yet Morrison’s tours are neither politically motivated nor planned as socially critical protest actions; they are not even organized. Only the meeting point and time are set. His concept not only implies that such a ride could be carried out in the practical sense, but it also alludes to the potential for a mass phenomenon, originating with the populace, which would occur outside the sphere of overly organized, institutionalized mega-events. Morrison confronts the passivity of the recipient in the usual institutional contexts with his call for self-determining action.

 

International Festival: Capitalism! BRNG IT ON, 2007

Neumarkt-Galerie, Neumarkt 2, Mon–Thu, Sat 7 am-9 pm, Fri 7 am-10 pm

International Festival (initiated in 2004 by Tor Lindstrand and Mårten Spångberg) is an open, trans-disciplinary platform for projects that make use of certain performative methods in order to involve their audience in an active process of negotiating institutional contexts. For the European Kunsthalle they have developed a work entitled “Capitalism! BRNG T ON.” It will consist of a weekly cheerleading performance in the event area of the Neumarkt Galerie shopping mall, a container featuring the European Kunsthalle symbol, set in the public space, and a free publication from leftover stock at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven. In bringing together these different groups and communications media, International Festival investigates questions such as: who is a part of the post-public, and what are the practices that create its space. Their “model for tomorrow” is based on the temporary, liberating appropriation of existing structures.

 

Jesko Fezer & Axel John Wieder: Unititled (div. Planungstheorien), 2007

Central Library Cologne, Josef-Haubrich-Hof 1, Tue, Thu 10 am-8 pm, Wed, Fri 10 am-6 pm, Sat 10 am-3 pm

In their work, which is presented as an archive in the main library, Jesko Fezer (*1970) and Axel John Wieder (*1971) examine different theories of planning. How do theory and praxis relate to urban planning and development in reality, and how do the former interpret the latter? Planning theories evoke an (urban) reality, where they intervene in the space. Pragmatic demands, flexible decision-making, democratic legitimation, and project orientation play a role, as do the conditions of a post-industrialized society struggling with globalization and fragmentation. Established in the 1970s as its own discipline, planning theory reflects the development from late modernist visions to our present day, and is marked by economic concepts. In this setting planning, designing, and building seem to be instruments involved in a transformation of social and ideological perspectives into factual architecture.

 

Bik van der Pol: Untitled, 2007

Aral gas station, Cäcilienstraße 32, Mon–Sun 0 am-12 pm

Liesbeth Bik and Jos van der Pol have been working collaboratively as Bik van der Pol since 1995. Their works invite the audience to think about places, their architecture, and history. At the same time they explore the potential of art to produce and transmit knowledge, as well as to create communicative situations. At a gas station across from the site where the Josef-Haubrich-Kunst-halle once stood (the demolition of which led to the formation of the European Kunsthalle), Bik van der Pol have installed an evocative aphorism. It says, “Ideas you believe are absurd ultimately lead to success.” The text triggers thoughts about the site across the street, its past and possible future. It visualizes the notion that spaces can be created where nothing actually exists, and that these spaces are more than just temporary, imaginary buildings. Using light, the artists create a stage for the work, which also makes it clear that every idea, regardless  of how fragile it is, can take on a solid form with help from mediation and communications tools.

 

Silke Schatz: Orakel 2007

Jesuit Church Sankt Peter, Jabachstraße 1, Tue–Sat 11 am-5 pm, Sun 1 pm-5 pm

The search for the ideal museum of the future took Cologne artist Silke Schatz (*1967) back into history. Her collage of painting, drawing, and photocopies is an old map of Cologne that stands outside historical fact, as it features excavations and contemporary clumsy expressions, recollections of the ancient origins of the city, and disturbing archaeological effects. Tracing the past directs the eye forward, although the future seems to be uncertain. Presented in St.Peter’s, itself a sacred site for contemporary art, Schatz’s “Oracle 2007” seems like a preview of the future via the knowledge of history, which has become a relict. Ancient rituals, cults, and festivals, however, also form the backdrop for a work that uses the political, expressive form of collage, generating out of the apparently apodictic “Future? No thanks” its own potential rejection of conventional models in favor of alternative ideas and patterns of action.

 

Tobias Rehberger: Untitled, 2007

Galeria Kaufhof, Dinea Restaurant, Hohe Straße 41–53, Mon–Thu 9:30 am-8 pm, Fri–Sat 9:30 am-9 pm

Tobias Rehberger (*1966) often works in functional and communicative contexts, which he transposes to an aesthetic dimension. For this exhibition, he has design-ed three pavilions of different proportions. However, his pastel colored, geometrical structures do not betray their purpose. Rehberger’s contribution is an allusion to prestigious museum buildings by famous architects, where talk is more concerned with the exteriors of the buildings than with the programs featured inside them. The title of the designs – “small,” “big,” and “very big cinema” – reflect the populist phrases of the advertising world, which attempts to turn museum buildings into profitable destinations for “event culture.” The accompanying text, in verse form, places his designs in relation to the situation of the European Kunsthalle. Descriptions of situations, a selection of opposite pairs, and grammatical stumbling blocks create analogies to the founding stage of the institution, which is currently weighing various options in terms of its future activities and architecture.

 

Andreas Fogarasi: Kultur und Freizeit, 2006

Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud, Obenmarspforten, Tue 10 am-8 pm, Wed–Fri 10 am-6 pm, Sat–Sun 11 am-6 pm

In his videos, installations, and objects, Andreas Fogarasi (*1977) works with specific cultural practices and forms of institutional representation. For the duration of the exhibition, he will present a video installation titled “Culture and Leisure Time” in the foyer of the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum. It deals with an accessible black box, a miniature cinema, where Fogarasi’s film on cultural centers in Budapest will be shown. The sculptural quality of the cube, its practical function, and its narrative content – three important props for institutional settings – permit a number of ways to receive “Culture and Leisure Time.” The video works themselves are about the intriguing field of representative Socialist architecture as one of Hungary’s cultural legacies, and the redefined purposes of today’s cultural club. Fogarasi thus refers to various historical and social levels of the public and its divergent understandings of culture.

Kultur und Freizeit, 2006 (videostills)
Courtesy Georg Kargl Fine Arts, Vienna

 

Olaf Nicolai: St. Kolumba oder: Considering a multiplicity of appearances in light of a particular aspect of relevance, 2007

St. Kolumba, Kolumbastraße 2–4, Mon–Sun 8 am-7:30 pm

A major theme of Olaf Nicolai’s (*1962) multifaceted œuvre is the interdependence between symbolic gestures and those that create space. The unique dynamic of these types of settings underscores his work, “St. Kolumba”: an existing room within the context of an exhibition, a kind of ready-made involving space. He describes the situation as “room snatching,” and his reference here is Jack Finney’s science fiction novel, “The Body Snatchers”, in which the bodies of the inhabitants of a small American town are possessed by an alien species, which uses them to reproduce. This theme is used by Nicolai to refer to the artistic practice of employing readymades – a practice, whose presentation of found objects 
in the context of art does indeed seem to make use of clear signs, but simoultanoeusly articulates the conditions under which the object is recoded and thus suggests possible multiple transit ivities. An extension of the practice is an artist’s book, which will be set out in the chapel for visitors to take with them. The pages of the book merely show colors that run together. This effect is created by the printing technique employed: rainbow printing, in which the various colored inks used randomly mix together in the machine. Through this, the claim of Nicolai’s work becomes the complex network of needs, interests, and behaviors that exist outside what is obviously articulated. An imaginary scenario, liberated from the given realities, thus opens up for the European Kunsthalle.

 

Liam Gillick: Revision in the Snow, 2007

City of Cologne, Customer’s Centre Laurenzplatz 1–3, Mon–Fri 7 am–7 pm

Liam Gillick’s textual work can be regarded as part of a potentially longer narrative describing a post-utopian society, the semiotic systems of public life, and the symbols that it uses and which it sometimes unwittingly subverts. In earlier texts, such as “Discussion Island: The Big Conference Room” and “Literally No Place,” Gillick marked public buildings and other urban plans as sites where the power structures and functional mechanisms of post-industrial societies are articulated. His concept for “Models for Tomorrow: Cologne” describes a potentially new institution, which,regardless of specific locale, unfolds in a setting made up of collaborative systems arising from modernist ideals and a society that nevertheless continues to function in a pragmatic sense. Here, the urban space of Cologne figures as a setting that provides commentary. Gillick subtly contrasts this with his analysis of a cultural praxis subverting existing modes of action.

 

An Te Liu: Being Disposed, 2007

Power Boxes RheinEnergie
, 20–Unter Goldschmied / Kleine Budengasse, 21–Am Hof, Mon–Sun 0 am-12 pm

Urban utility boxes are the medium An Te Liu uses for his text-based interventions in their functional design. His quotations of succinct phrases taken from the philosophies of Martin Heidegger involve various themes: the relationship of function and dysfunction, the concept of “Zuhanden” and “Vorhanden” (“at hand for use” and “at hand, but not necessarily with a functional purpose”), the utility value of things, or the idea of dislocating location. In condensing theoretical analyses of reality down to concise terms, a plea is made for a level of discourse in the face of the empirical reality of every-day systems of function and regulation, by questioning the presuppositions of these systems. Placed on technical tools in passing, the abstract philosophical phrases, taken out of their usual context, are like intellectual disturbances of the public life in which they are embedded. 
Referring to their locations and yet alienated from them at the same time, they insist that viewers think about what appears to be simple givens.

 

Karl Holmqvist: One of Many, 2007

Deutsche Bank self service centre Köln Am Dom, Bahnhofsvorplatz 1/Trankgasse, Mon–Sun 6:30 am-11 pm

Appropriation and seemingly minimal interventions are some of the characteristics of the work by artist Karl Holmqvist (*1964), which often deals with invisibility and things such as memory function or the collective subconscious. His contribution to the “Models of Tomorrow: Cologne” exhibition is “One of Many” – a one Euro coin placed in a vitrine at a 24-hour Deutsche Bank cash point. The work could be said to be doubly site-specific: it accentuates the monetary cycle, from which it is removed and which the bank represents. At the same time, through its stamp of a miniature map of Europe, it opens up an imaginary space whose references lie beyond the specific place, so that Europe itself is visualized as the possible sphere of action for the European Kunst-halle. As “One of Many,” the coin represents capital, the accumulation of which is the foundation for all of the future activities of the European Kunsthalle.

The Question of the Day

V

Does a Kunsthalle still satisfy the needs and demands of contemporary art, its presentation and mediation? Rather than looking for a simple response, we shaped this set of problems into a series of individual questions, and turned for answers to a cooperative collaboration with international artists, curators, theorists etc. “The Question of the Day” was developed within a framework of conceptual exchange and decentralization that characterized the founding phase of the European Kunsthalle.

 

For what reason – besides simply custom or habit – might citizens prefer a physical, tangible Kunsthalle?
Ilka Becker, art historian, Cologne

First of all the question of tangibility is, for me, not a productive one at all: gripping, seizing and grasping all sound a little like predetermined, consumable meaningfulness, one whose institutional form could offer both a kind of guarantee and a comfortable place to take a seat. A kunsthalle like the European Kunsthalle, which follows a de-centralized concept, should be more like a stage onto which the decision is made to make something intangible visible, (meaning to produce) a rupture in one’s own position – as a recipient and at the same time producer of signs, social codes, material and situations within the system of art. The artistic, curatorial, theoretical and critical work that can be carried out in such a field becomes especially interesting when it does less in the service of bourgeois subjectivity (whose criteria for art reception no longer function anyway), becoming instead a kind of controversial production collective to which different players can contribute. For this, a concrete location can become a very important factor.

 

How important is functional architecture for curating exhibitions?
Adam Budak, curator Kunsthaus Graz

Undoubtedly, functional architecture plays a significant role in curating exhibitions. It does it mostly in practical terms – organization of space, technical elaboration of exhibits, partly, as a guiding line for the exhibition narrative, etc. I am, however, interested in situations where the architectural function challenges exhibition staging and curatorial vision. I have been working for more than two years now in a (biomorphic) exhibition space which comes up with an architectural offer based rather upon dysfunction or a certain grotesque of such a traditionally understood function. Here, I consider this “ailment” as both challenge (for everybody involved: an artist with an artwork, a curator with a concept and an audience with perceptive qualities). Such dysfunctional architecture keeps you always alerted by constantly redefining an artwork, by making you more sensitive towards spatial conditions, by entering into an exciting partnership with whoever / whatever encounters it, this refreshing your perceptive habits and collaborating with you on staging one common distinctive identity. Such a dysfunction also works as a disagreement which finally becomes productive and enriching. It makes your life hard as it is always the case of a dominant partner, that’s true, but in the end it brings a lot of joy and (creative) satisfaction.

 

How can an institution for contemporary art be defined in relation to its audience?
Chris Dercon, director of Haus der Kunst, Munich

There is not just a “public”. The idea of “public” does not exist anymore, it is by the way a 19th century invention … just as the idea of “public” appears in paintings for the very first time and broadly speaking in the 19th century. Today we are confronted with many different sorts of “public” … with for instance many different expectations. I once said in a national Dutch newspaper “do not trust the audience”, an expression which I had to pay dearly until years after. What I meant was that the public is basically not confident anymore in itself – can it project its confidence on us or vice versa? That means we have to ask ourselves constantly: which public feels itself represented by what we do when and the way we do things? Indeed, we have to rebuild each time our constituencies. The public is therefore not a given … it has to be taken. And to make things even worse, there seems to b a general confusion of what is “public” and what is “private”, or what is the difference between “public” and “private” cultural concerns and considerations. Commercialism, in the field of culture, for instance, is transforming itself rapidly into a kind of “public sphere”. The public realm is therefore completely blurred. And sadly enough, our only weapon of defense – induced by our commissioners and subsidizing bodies – seems therefore to publicize huge … visitor numbers. But public numbers are highly different from public arguments! Is it not?

 

To what extent is there space for academic thought in the museum’s exhibition practice?
Charles Esche, director Vanabbe Museum, Einhoven

A museum is not an empty vessel to be filled with art. Instead we need to speak about its identity, its potentiality, its idealogy – all of which are present whether we choose to recognize them or not. To put these latter terms into motion and not simply accept inherited definitions, we need thinking processes. So if “academic thinking” means reflection, questioning and articulation of the practices of a museum, then we need to devote lots of space and time to it. We need to build in systems where museum workers have opportunities to learn new ways of seeing art and its relation to society. We need to create models of public presentation and production that include self-reflective mechanisms and opportunities of critical thinking. We need thus to construct the museum as a place for asking questions and developing complex answers. Of course academic thinking has another meaning that implies unreflective copying of existing models and that should have no place in the contemporary art museum’s practice.

 

Are changes in the social foundation of an art institution capable of transforming the institution from the inside?
Anselm Franke, director Extra City, Antwerp

I think it will happen anyway. The notion of education or also the public, even the methods employed by hegemonic culture are always in a state of transformation – and so the art institution either gears itself towards tourism and marketing on the one hand or will have to become a “Center for Creativity” in the future, one in which the productive force “creativity” is developed, trained or if nothing else even therapeutically “treated”. Art institutions cannot continue to legitimize the old support structures handed to them in the long term: their notion of the public sphere is corrupt, its prospects for exerting political influence are increasingly few. And yet the new supporting structure usually handles these as luxury extensions of art fairs to a large extent, a fact that has not escaped culture-political notice, resulting in an urgent need for thorough debate concerning public institutions’ relationship to a speculative market. And that goes of course not only for the experiment and innovation of the responsible institutions without collections, but also for museums, which are still capable of invoking the cultural consciousness argument.

 

Are publicly financed institutions for contemporary art now but an extension of the private art market?
Susanne Gaensheimer, curator, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich

No, absolutely not and this must never be allowed to happen. Of course, there is a great danger that the institutions will become financially dependent on commercial galleries and private collections, due to the permanent reduction of public funding. Art productions and exhibitions are becoming more and more expensive, prices of even very new art are rising disproportionately and at the same time, museums and public institutions are increasingly at the mercy of state and municipal consolidation measures. Thus there is an urgent need to develop new paths of productive cooperation between public institutions and the private art market. Many galleries, for example, are aware that they profit from museum exhibitions and are therefore also interested in getting financially involved in the production of artworks and publications. And an increasing number of private collectors want to display their works in public institutions, which an lead to thoroughly fruitful partnerships – whereby this only really makes sense if the collector is prepared to offer his works in the form of a binding, long-term loan. Yet it is precisely with overlaps such as these that a museum’s most important task is to remain autonomous and incorruptible in terms of their program and system, and to follow its collection-specific concept without being influenced by economic factors. Another urgent requirement is that the state and the communes finally acknowledge the need for an independent public space for the production and display of art and guarantee its survival by providing the necessary funding.

 

Is a Kunsthalle still a contemporary model?
Liam Gillick, artist

No, a Kunsthalle is not a contemporary model. There is, however, the possibility of continuing to use the word in relation to a revised structure, if only to avoid losing the potential of a notional public art space – a free-floating signifier that retains specific meaning within a historical context. What is to be avoided, however, is the mere maintenance of a word in relation to a structure where it can only be understood as parodic or paradoxical in terms of the name / structure relationship. A Kunsthalle that avoids a powerful role in terms of the culture should actually carry another name. If you want to occupy a specific historically determined meaning / space in the culture then continue to call it a Kunsthalle. If you want to start again, assume the social / historical / political space of the Kunsthalle without actually calling it a Kunsthalle. But at the same time, ensure that there can be no other institution within the city than can be called a Kunsthalle, by legal or other means. If you want to replace something, you cannot allow others to assume the intellectual space that you are transcending.

 

Facing the replacement of traditional artistic media by participatory approaches, moveable structures and conceptual works, do we still need static museum buildings for the presentation of art?
Krist Gruijthuijsen, freelance curator

No, certainly not. Though I support and see great importance in the architectural element of the institutional framework such as the one of a museum. I don’t think we need yet another building stashed with “dead” material on display. The European Kunsthalle could be a great example for a conversive Kunsthalle that discusses frameworks within the (re)presentation of art. In that sense, it could work more as a thought than something concrete. An overviewing think-tank that is not connected to a certain place.

 

Are forms of institutionalisation limiting to independent projects?
Vit Havránek, project coordinator tranzit.cz, Prague

I understand an “independent project” as an activity where financial or working forces are defined internally by a the group of people without strong support by the state, municipal or corporate bodies acting from the „outside“ . Such an activity is a result of citizens’ enthusiasm. I agree with Hakim Bey (t.a.z.) that once an initiative is officially recognized and adopted, it loses its autonomy and acts in regard to the so-called general interest. That’s why Bey proposes that autonomous zones should be only temporary ones. But certain “independent initiatives” are already born with the hope to become institutionalized. To me that is the most interesting aspect of this model: the relation between so-called “independent initiatives” and the official institutional structures, since it forms the basis of any independent project. Today, the awareness that institutions provide a kind of negative self-definition is the main motivating behind the wish for independency. Very good examples for this can be found in art itself – currently in conceptual art or land art. In some cases the artists thought that their program and the ideas behind it could change the institutions. But only those who adopted the institutions’ strategies and thematized them as one the matters they were dealing with are actually interesting.

 

What are the places for contemporary Art?
Jörg Heiser, author and co-editor-in chief Frieze magazine

Kunsthallen are as contemporary as the people running them. Not every, but almost any given structure – provided it fulfills the architectonic and urbanistic basic requirements such as a halfway central location and the spatial adaptability for contemporary art – can become a good place for contemporary production and mediation so long as the focus remains on ideas and aesthetic experience rather than cultural bureaucracy and local economic policy. Another contributing factor would be if a relatively small team can work in a relatively autonomous way and, instead of merely being supervised by a financial and administrative authority, can at least affect the economic and political parameters themselves – hybrid models. Networking and workspace rhetoric, however, often deviates from the task of appropriate mediation of artistic production and over-emphasizes the curator’s role over the artists’ as a participant in discourse. In other words: „Show me, don’t tell me“, as the scriptwriters say. The European Kunsthalle is a unique chance to do it all right according to the points outlined above. Anything else is site-specific.

 

What does a decentral institution expect from the general public in terms of an ability to receive artworks?
Tom Holert, art critic and theorist, Berlin

In principle, only that which is necessary for them to learn about the production of visual art. Cultural institutions are perceived as part of a network of institutions, called for and consumed. That fraction of the public which, in a way following the traditional principle of subscription, only concentrates on one opera house, one art association, one book club and in this way limits their cultural activities, is falling. Exhibitions or orchestrated events are linked with other exhibitions and orchestrated events. The art system forms the context for how we receive art, and this system is – like the market that supports it – organized in a transnational and decentralized way (if we overlook certain cities and leading institutions designed as “centers”). Moreover, visits to cultural institutions are part and parcel of being a tourist, be it in your own city or elsewhere. One of the ambitions of prospective or experienced “culturati” is to know one’s subject, which always also means to travel. Thus the decentralized aspect of an institution like the European Kunsthalle, in terms of both space and administration, corresponds to a certain decentralized nature of the subjects of the cultural market. Perhaps these decentralized subjects of a institution, which designs itself to be decentralized, are even constituted, in a particular way, in their subjectivity.

 

In how far is the number of visitors relevant for the success of a Kunsthalle?
Max Hollein, director Schirn Kunsthalle, Liebighaus, Städelmuseum, Frankfurt

The number of visitors does not symbolize the success of a Kunsthalle, but it is very important for its success. This is because a high number of visitors creates long-term room for maneuver with respect to clients acting to political ends and their public, it signalizes acceptance and thus prevents the questioning of more complex ideas in terms of the program. With high numbers of visitors you can follow the program you want on a long-term basis. With lower visitor numbers it has the exact opposite effect in the long run. In this context therefore, the achievement exists in attaining high visitor numbers with a complex program – this is one, if not the moment of success for a Kunsthalle.

 

What are the contemporary places for art?
Sven Lütticken, art historian and critic

The short, slightly cynical answer would be: biennials and art fairs. And yet the question that we should be asking ourselves is if it’s really necessary to be “absolument de son temps” or if it isn’t possible to be contemporary and timely in another, more anachronistic way. By this I don’t mean guarding against new developments, but rather that one shouldn’t necessarily see and passively accept them as historical forces of nature. Interesting places for contemporary art are those able to act on aspects of the current event-oriented culture, integrating them into an exhibition and activities program and drawing an open, yet focused public to the margins of dominant culture. To do so, a kind of balky and even institutional presence is necessary. Dematerialized institutions content to organize something at whatever “interesting” place before disappearing again only sabotage the creation of an art public not generated by advertising and hype. Institutional Critique carries all the risks and side effects of “stable” institutions such as museums, and yet only physically accessible institutions might possibly become critical institutions.

 

Do static institutions actually have a future?
Florian Malzacher, curator steirischer herbst, Graz

No. But why is it so often precisely explicit non-institutions, which have the opportunity to be fully flexible, that are the most static? Often, the freedom of the unofficial art scene and off-culture us anything but promoting forward movement. Whether institution or non-institution: Static thinking is artistically and curatorially boring. Not even the most streamlined and flexible structure can protect against this. The problem is that many institutions are enclosed in fixed thought patterns, aesthetics and social images by their architecture. Then there are tough payroll structures and the set expectations of politicians, journalists and audiences. And laziness. Something stationary can of course also cause friction. Given things firm foundations. Make borders and control mechanisms visible. An institution that is always stretched beyond recognition by flexibility also quickly becomes unproductive and predictable. Static institutions have no future. But neither do static models for non-static institutions.

 

Is the audience right when they claim they do not understand contemporary art?
Chus Martinez, director Frankfurter Kunstverein

The night lasted for twenty seconds. After that a big flash took over: GNAC. Big, loud, real, shining from the roof top opposite where Marcovaldo – the working class hero of Italo Calvino – lives. But GNAC is only a part of a bigger neon sign saying SPAAK-COGNAC, which shone twenty seconds, then went off for twenty, and when it lit again you could see not anything else. The moon faded, the sky became uniform. Is the audience right when they “claim” they do not understand contemporary art? That is the question you posed me. I once was quoted to have answered “yes” to that. I was actually saying they need to be taken seriously when they “claim it”. But it can be that they are seeing only the GNAC of the story. So the crucial part is where is the rest of our sign?

 

Is the institutional critique as articulated in the field of art of particular relevance to the founding of a new institution?
Nina Möntmann, freelance curator and author

Classic artist participation in institutional processes is goal-oriented. As expected, the result of an artist’s work is put on display. Thus artistic production is understood as something for the general public. However, this only reflects one aspect of artists’ actual role as active coproducers in the various areas of the field of art. Institutional Critique was or is also partly an expression of discontent with using prefabricated structures without commenting on them, even if they are seen as problematic. In addition, Institutional Critique is not only practiced by artists, but is also a fixed feature on teaching plans for curatorial courses and at universities. In the meantime, curators who in the 1990s studied, for example, at the Whitney Program, are now active in museums and Kunsthalles. I am interested in working closely with artists as regards the structural work of institutions, too, i.e., involving artists in the planning stages and decision-making processes. This also aims to prevent the institution from occupying itself only with the expectations of sponsors, politicians and other groups, but first fulfills the requirements for artistic work as best as it can. This collaboration can occur both at the level of exhibition planning and in institution-forming processes. There is an opportunity here for new institutions whose profile is not yet determined.

 

Are models such as the migros museum for contemporary art in Zurich also conceivable in Germany?
Heike Munder, director migros museum, Zurich

1. Set up a company such as a cooperative and direct one percent of the sales towards culture.
2. Use this money for literature, theatre, music, media, art, education and social projects and don’t forget to put aside a certain sum per year for an art collection.
3. Open a museum when you have enough art for a program alternating between exhibitions of permanent works from the collection and temporary exhibitions.
4. Conduct research, preserve, communicate and produce. Enjoy your freedom. Your serve no management board, circle of friends or similar group.
The question whether the concept of the migros museum for contemporary art in Zurich can be transferred to other places depends on whether such classic financing methods, based on patronage and borne by the trust of the cooperative, can be applied to other places. This art, liberated from instrumentalization and bearing the task of social eduction, is a piece of utopia come true that is worth preserving.

 

How important is the spatial aspect for a Kunsthalle?
Juliane Rebentisch, philosopher and critic

My question: the “spatial aspect” of what? The Kunsthalle itself or the art presented in it? If it is the former, i.e. the importance of the concrete exhibition space for a Kunsthalle’s business, then the answer should probably relate to aspects of its architectural design: and then both in terms of its representativeness on the outside and its functionality on the inside. That these are important questions for a Kunsthalle is obvious. In order to get that done, however, it would be better to ask others. On the other hand, if the latter is what is meant, i.e., the spatial dimension of the art itself, this question only becomes an important one for a Kunsthalle if you take into consideration that advanced art today always has something of an installation in it. For this also applies to traditional forms such as painting and sculpture: here too the exposition in the space influences the meaning of the exhibits themselves. This means, however, among other things, that the dialogue with the concrete exhibition space falls increasingly explicitly to the ability of the artists themselves. It is no longer a neutral background, but rather has long since become part of the artistic material. A Kunsthalle has to take account of this development in its daily practices today. This applies to the necessary openness in terms of formal and programmatic interventions in the space of the respective institution as well as the dialogue with the new zones of friction between artistic and curatorial practices and the role of mediation, which in this context falls to the exhibition architecture. Perhaps interesting aspects such as these on the practice and theory of art that relate to the spatially reflexive daily life of a Kunsthalle could be discussed in other, somewhat more concrete “Questions of the Day”.

 

Is a Kunsthalle able to develop a European dimension?
Beatrix Ruf, director Kunsthalle Zurich

Yes, of course, is the first thing that comes to mind. And then it becomes difficult. A Kunsthalle, in the sense that this type of European art institution has been understood thus far, has mostly put international art up for discussion at a specific place and in the specific context of a city, an art scene. If you extend the location and therefore also the reference to a place, to an urban situation, to the local context of Cologne, Bonn or Berlin etc. to include the whole of Europe as a location, then you will no doubt have a different understanding of the concept of location or the significance of the local context – and place the interplay between the institution and its context in a wider cultural and political framework. Thus a question, one that changes, would perhaps be: What does internationality (of art) mean with reference to Cologne? And: What does internationality (of art) mean with reference to Europe? But perhaps the most difficult question of all is still: How European is Cologne?

 

Why isn’t there a Kunsthalle in bigger cities like London, Berlin or New York?
Edgar Schmitz, artist and writer, London

I am not so sure about Berlin or Paris or New York where the conditions are specific, but London certainly is defined by (or rather indefinable because of) its hybrid landscape of cultural institutions across public, private and commercial sectors and the feedback loops produced between them. What is generated by this mix is not only a whole range of different working conditions, but also a multitude of audience clusters and visibilities. Their dynamics spill over into one another. There is no space in this for either the cultural / political leverage or touristic marketing potential associated with the Kunsthalle as exclusive marker for cultural production. Any claims to the status of a recognizable privileged player would be drowned out by the sheer mass of differentiation. Its condition would always be the “plus one” / “one more” / “yet another” (which might finally be an interesting position for a Kunsthalle to occupy).

 

Why are exhibition spaces focussing on discourse seemingly less popular?
Bettina Steinbrügge, artistic director Halle für Kunst, Lüneburg

Counter question: Are they really less popular? What does popularity actually mean? Why should spaces that focus on discourse be popular at all? Popularity is identified with majorities, publicity and audience ratings. This comes from the fact that today, the audience is measured according to market criteria. The modes of access and articulation are being replaced by the modes of the exchange of goods and consumption. Simon Sheikh recently suggested that the Enlightenment developed the ideas of the rational-critical subject and disciplinary social order, while these ideas have since been replaced by the notion of entertainment. Spaces focusing on discourse cannot and are not meant to achieve this. Their task is far more to avoid the principles of the art market and the event culture. Good ideas mostly need longer to develop and above all to establish themselves in general thought. In contrast, popularity is generated by quickness, which cannot be the aim of a critical practice that breaks with common sense and doxa. Therefore, popularity is also frequently linked to brevity. It is very difficult to measure popularity, because it mostly assumes a non-specific public. The territory of the “public” and thus also “popular” sphere however is imaginary. The idea of the universal civic public is a historical construct, and the question arises, whether this has actually ever existed as something other than a projection. In the end, it can only involve manufacturing particular audiences among the public. I think that the unpopular is an important starting point for a discussion with long-term effects. Incidentally, it is not obvious that discourse-oriented spaces are less popular, for according to statistics, spaces like, e.g., the Generali Foundation in Vienna or Kunst-Werke in Berlin or events like the last documenta shows generate a huge interest when compared to average visitor numbers and media presence. And here again we can ask ourselves: From which point can something’s popularity be measured? Criteria please!

 

How important is an actual place within the city for an art institution?
Aneta Szylak, Direktorin Wyspa, Institutute of Art, Gdansk

Site is a catalyst. The location is crucial for an institution’s profile and message – if one really wants to have a space. Having a space can easily become a burden, both in the artistic and economic sense. But if we assume that the building is attached and the notion of institution then, yes, the location is important. Spatial relations and the contextualization within an urban tissue seem to be the most defining factors for an art organization. Choosing the place (if you have a choice) is then not only the search for an attractive location in the city, but also influences what you will be actually doing. There is no such thing like a neutral location. But you can also see the institution as freed from being placed and tailored to be a floating project. Easily movable, quick to be re-arranged, harder to pin down. It is cheaper, more surprising, probable sexier. If you know how to do it, how to not operate in fixed and defined spatial relations. This changes the message of the institution entirely. The lack of a spatial definition is a definition, too.

 

Can a Kunsthalle establish a critical counter-discourse questioning the art system?
Jan Verwoert, critic

It is definitely within the power of a Kunsthalle to provide room for critical discussion. Critical discourse needs a venue. It is not for nothing that the Greek term “criterion” not only refers to the standard gauge of a judgment, but also to where the actual trial takes place (where the court is). Thus the place Kunsthalle can be a criterion. Yet the question remains whether the institution is able to establish a discourse, or whether the institution should not, when it offers itself as the venue of the discussion, curb its power in order to play the ideal host. Really, criticism can only come from guests, i.e., from the outside. But you cannot “establish” guests, only invite them. Whether they then come or not is up to them. Thus the Kunsthalle is dependent on a discourse where they can never guarantee that it will take place, even if they are able to provide a venue for it. That such a discussion can achieve anything against the narrow-mindedness of the art business and not get lost in the general frenzy of activity itself is just as hard to predict. Perhaps it is exactly in this way that discourse can avoid becoming business, by continually opposing the establishment of institutional routines by inviting unusual guests.

 

5

Spaces of Production

Nikolaus Hirsch, Philipp Misselwitz, Markus Miessen, Matthias Görlich

What defines the contemporary art space? Who are the authors in the construction of an institution? Is it possible to build an institution while producing art? In times in which artists create buildings, architects contribute to art exhibitions, and curators act like artists, it seems to be possible to rethink the classical role models, and thus to renegotiate the relation between art production, the exhibition and its spacial envelope. The analysis of presentation modes in art has thus far been primarily concentrated on the medium of the exhibition. In the face of an increasingly interdisciplinary artistic practice and diversified forms of presentation, those same questions asked about the conditions of art presentation must also be asked about the design of its institutional context.

Spaces of Production is a study that conceptualizes and makes a practical application of spatial scenarios for the European Kunsthalle. The developed models and strategies were tested in the European Kunsthalle’s “founding phase” between 2005 and 2007. That is to say, this investigation is not the result of purely theoretical or conceptual considerations, but rather an integral part of the preliminary practice of the European Kunsthalle’s first two years. In this respect, the following course of action for the European Kunsthalle is the direct result of an applied research – an iterative study informed by the resonance between theory and practice. Spaces of Production began as a survey of contemporary institutions in Europe. In addition to the more traditional typologies of the galleries, museums, and kunsthallen, the investigation also included institutions that have consciously avoided conventional institutional models, in order to promote them with caution, undermine them, give them new meaning or combine them in different ways. At this juncture it became clear that sites of art presentation have increasingly become “spaces of production”, or can be understood as sites where art is produced. 

The core of the research appears to be the increasingly contradictory relation between the institution’s physical-spatial configuration and its programmatic approach. A comparison of analyzed institutions opens up a new field of consideration informed by the contradictory concepts of “stability” and “instability”. Institutions identified with the traditional kunsthalle model define a highly controlled environment: a hermetically closed and neutral interior in a stable architectural framework. This stable environment serves two respective functions by guaranteeing the autonomy of both the program and the social structure of the institution. Variants of use stand in direct relation to the intrinsic possibilities of architectural elements such as wall, ceiling, and floor. Spatially unstable institutions, on the other hand, enable a fusion with their urban everyday surroundings. They are defined by flexible, dynamic borders.

In contrast to the architectural strategies of stable institutions, the “material strategy” consists here of various rhythms of speed and slowness, noise and silence. Both stable and – in terms of their spatial configuration – unstable institutions have their individual histories, traditions, and connotations. In the extreme cases of both models, the architecture is attributed a decisive – however different – role: on the one hand, art spaces become the strategic instrument of city planning and marketing, reactivating entire cities according to the “Bilbao Effect” paradigm, thereby assigning a dominant role to an architecture that often overburdens it. 

Positioning themselves in opposition to this are the impermanent strategies of the Situationist tradition, which temporarily adopt existing territories and spatial vacancies in the city, at the risk of turning into event-based activities under the premises of neo-liberal deregulation. In the 1960s, the escape from bourgeois institutions was an expression of political-artistic opposition. Today, it is a strategic part of mainstream cultural politics. Stable and instable concepts and their diametric spatial consequences are thus equally available to both artists and curators. The appropriateness of a certain strategy is usually renegotiated on a project-to-project basis.

The approach developed by Spaces of Production attempts to constructively rethink ideas of “stability” and “instability” and, in doing so, develop a future-oriented strategy for the European Kunsthalle that positions it within a local, regional, national and international contemporary discourse. Applied to the specific situation in Cologne, three spatial strategies have been developed: an unstable configuration, a stable strategy, and finally one that merges the advantages of both variants into a hybrid model.

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Publications

INSTITUTION BUILDING. ARTISTS, CURATORS, ARCHITECTS IN THE STRUGGLE FOR INSTITUTIONAL SPACE

Ed. by Nikolaus Hirsch, Philipp Misselwitz, Markus Miesen, Matthias Görlich. Sternberg Press, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-1-933128-54-2

What defines the contemporary art space? Who are the authors in the construction of an institution? Is it possible to build an institution while producing art? In times in which artists create buildings, architects contribute to art exhibitions, and curators act like artists, it seems to be possible to rethink the classical role models, and thus to renegotiate the relation between art production, the exhibition and its spatial envelope.

European Kunsthalle 2005 2006 2007

The publication European Kunsthalle 2005 2006 2007, published by Vanessa Joan Müller and Astrid Wege, recounts two years of European Kunsthalle activities and experiences while providing a glimpse into how the European Kunsthalle project could be continued in the future. Among others, the contribution Spaces of Production further elaborates on one of the last two years’ oft-discussed questions concerning the relationship between a contemporary art institution’s content-based programming and its spatial-architectural site. It sketches a scenario between the traditional exhibition space and a de-centralized, temporary positioning as a spatial-psychological option for the European Kunsthalle.

The publication featuring contributions by Vanessa Joan Müller, Astrid Wege, Tom Holert, Julia Höner, Nikolaus Hirsch, Philipp Misselwitz, Markus Miesen and Matthias Görlich, available only in German, can be downloaded here.

The Question of the Day

Does a Kunsthalle still satisfy the needs and demands of contemporary art mediation and presentation? What role does art play in a rapidly changing social context and what are the parameters of its cultural institutions? These initial questions were posed by the founding team of the European Kunsthalle from June 2005 to May 2007 and forwarded in the web-project The Question of the Day to artists, curators, critics, gallerists, and theoreticians. The book The Question of the Day brings together its answers, statements and suggestions.
Sternberg Press, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-1-933128-29-0

Under Construction.
 Perspectives on Institutional Practice

In March 2006 the European Kunsthalle was holding Under Construction, a series of events which took place each day at different cultural locations in Cologne. Current issues on location advantages, financing models, and trends in contemporary art and presenting them in art institutions formed their thematic background. The interest behind Under Construction was it to bring together representatives of different disciplines and render the process of defining the parameters for a new European Kunsthalle accessible to the broader general public. The publication Under Construction. Perspectives on Institutional Practice documents most of these events.

Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne 2006, ISBN 978-3-86560-119-3

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Contact

EUROPEAN KUNSTHALLE

Artistic Director: Vanessa Joan Müller
europeankunsthalle@gmail.com

Team 2008-2010

Astrid Wege Leitung (Cologne), Rike Frank (Berlin/Vienna), Anders Kreuger (Lund/Vilnius)

Team 2005-2007

Nicolaus Schafhausen (Founding Director), Vanessa Joan Müller (Research Curator), Nikolaus Hirsch, Markus Miessen, Philipp Misselwitz, Matthias Görlich (Spaces of Production)