Art + Politics
One main thematic focus of the Württembergischer Kunstverein is concentrated on the exploration of sociopolitical contexts and spaces of agency related to contemporary art. Of interest here are the resistive and subversive potentials inherent to art, that is, art’s ability to repeatedly break open and recompose existing systems of order, be they of an aesthetic, spatial, societal, or political nature. Here a critical line of questioning is pursued, especially in the areas of architecture and urban development, gender and postcolonialism, economy and democracy.
Art + Knowledge
In a best-case scenario, art does not produce meaning but rather constantly questions meaning. It appropriates “foreign” realms, like language, stage, or cinema, mass media, public space, documentation, history, scientific methods, or political discourse, with the aim of subjecting it to reflection of a shifted, contrary, and paradoxical nature. In this respect, art spawns other forms of knowledge production or different knowledge. This different knowledge in turn forms a further thematic focus for the Kunstverein.
Center + Periphery
We live in a complex, globally networked world—which has long since eluded characterization as a hierarchical division between the “West” (= center) and the “Rest” (= periphery)—where poles like center and periphery or the familiar and the foreign abidingly intersect. Against this backdrop, art must likewise be negotiated beyond Western European and North American standards. In recent years, no other art association has come close to taking this into consideration as consistently as the Württembergischer Kunstverein has, with its intensification of exchange between (Eastern) Europe, South America, Asia, and the Arab world. Decisive here is how each project is strongly conceptualized and developed by curators from the different regions so that a diversity of voices may be engendered—a polyphony where dissonance, rather than being avoided, actually imbues these voices with meaning.
Production + Process + Collaboration
The Kunstverein forms a production environment, in both a narrower and a broader sense. This includes the Studio House, (art-related) research projects, the (co)production of new artwork, and the development of complex exhibition scenarios in the case of each and every show. The essential idea here is to make room for processual and collaborative working approaches—in the context of collaboration with individual artists and also projects involving more than one curator. The latter usually take up open explorative questions with responses that first evolve during the participatory process.
Rather than implying a bundling of knowledge and competency that is geared toward goals and efficiency, such collaboration is in fact designed to activate webs of relationships which, emerging from different and unforeseeable directions, evoke different and unforeseeable states.
Constantly pushing the limits of curating and discovering its vast possibilities is one of the main objectives of the Kunstverein. Here priority is placed on testing collaborative and multiperspectival working approaches and also on a desire to embrace the complexity and multifacetedness of art. Instead of embedding art in linear, coherent, or apparently seamless narratives, we are strongly interested in fostering potency in art’s multilayered, open, and contradictory facets of interpretation, in its capacity for resistance—a resistance that pertains to digression and vagueness, to the unexpected and the ambiguous.
This also concerns the architectural and spatial design of exhibitions. Here our interest primarily lies in spatial structures that more closely resemble a labyrinth or rhizome as opposed to a parcourse—structures that always simultaneously feature more than one entrance and exit, along with a multitude of constellations, bifurcations, turning points, as well as sites of concentration and of dispersal.
An exhibition always represents a way of interpreting and translating art—especially in view of the many ephemeral, time-based, site-specific, and performative practices found in contemporary art, where there is often a lack of fixed objects that might be easily carted from point A to B. We therefore frequently consider the question as to how these acts of translation might likewise come into play as part of the exhibitions.