Spaces (of action)
The art building erected in 1913 to house the Kunstverein, designed by architect Theodor Fischer, today encompasses two complexes: the older building, which was restored after 1945, with its vaulted hall and surrounding gallery rooms and the newer building that was added in 1961, designed by architects Paul Bonatz and Günther Wilhelm, with the so-called “Vierecksaal” or Cube. The two building sections are connected by a spacious tract called the “Glastrakt” or Glass Box.
The art building also housed the Städtische Galerie (today the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart) from 1961 to 2005. Since then, the State of Baden-Württemberg, which owns the building, has presented its own exhibitions in parallel to the Kunstverein program. Through the year 2011 these exhibitions occupied the entire longitudinal axis of both the older and newer buildings. This meant that the Kunstverein had to regularly fall back on the gallery rooms in the older building and to organize entrance for visitors alternately through the Schlossplatz entryway and the Glass Box; also, an events room was only available for six months of the year.
Thanks to a new rental agreement, since 2012 there has been a clear distribution of space within the art building, meaning that the Kunstverein now has full access to the Glass Box and the Cube. Ever since, the main visitor entrance has been located at Stauffenbergstraße and leads directly into the Glass Box.
The Glass Box: A Hub
With its ca. 280 square meters, its open feel and transparency, the Glass Box forms the central “hub” between the institution and the public, between exhibition and event, art space and working space, internal and external affairs. It encompasses a series of analogue and digital archives, a copying machine, and Internet access, as well as tables for reading and working that are used by the many visitors, various groups, and also for in-house work meetings. The archives include the archive of Kunstverein members who are artists[DM2] , the Postcapital Archive by Daniel García Andújar, the Expanded Cinema Study Collection, along with diverse, continually growing material collections on Kunstverein projects and key themes. A special book table with appropriate literature and documents is set up for each running exhibition. Moreover, access is provided to various art journals and newly published exhibition catalogues, among other publications.
All of the furniture in the Glass Box is set on rollers, enabling the setup to be easily rearranged for different lectures, workshops, film programs, performances, and more.
Open Forum: Glass box
The Glass Box is also available to the public at large as a space for action and negotiation. A wide variety of groups from the areas of art and sociopolitical activism hold their meetings and events here, sometimes in cooperation with the Kunstverein and sometimes on their own. The space can therefore be said to be occupied by heterogeneous publics.
The Cube: Exhibition Space as Stage
The Cube, which was added on to the older building during the reconstruction work of 1961, has a footprint of 35 by 35 meters that remains undisturbed by pillars or inside walls. This unique situation makes it possible to develop custom-tailored architecture for each exhibition. Ever new and surprising scenarios thus arise, sometimes labyrinthine, sometimes open, or scenarios that are bold or minimalist, that resemble the White Cube or a backstage area. The temporary nature of the fixtures usually remains recognizable as such in order to make visible the temporality, mutability, and the certain stage-like air of the exhibition displays. What is more, the concept of the exhibition space as a stage also allows the visitors to be drawn into the scenario as players.
The ambitious exhibition architectures are always developed in close cooperation with the artists and/or co-curators. They are based on a modular wall system that accommodates different heights and can be arranged as open or closed structures; it can even be converted to allow for divergent uses, for instance into a platform or stage elements. This system, in combination with the recycling of already used materials and an in-house wood workshop, makes it possible to create ever new spatial situations with limited funds.