Kunstverein Hamburg - an excentric old lady

If the Kunstverein - the art society - in Hamburg was a person, it would be one of these skinny old ladies with excentrically purple colored hair and heavy make up, being around forever and not caring what other people might say. To me, the Kunstverein is the venue in Hamburg that introduces and promotes the most daring, extreme, uncompromising contemporary art.

liz mogor
A drastic example for Liz Mogor's "idiosyncratic image language"...

Now one would think that it was a hip business man who recently opened this venue located on the Kunstmeile - the art mile - of Hamburg which stretches from the Kunsthalle, Hamburg's art museum, along the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, the museum of arts and crafts, all the way down to the Deichtorhallen (please read my review on their current Bill Viola exhibition). Just like the latter, the building that houses the Kunstverein used to be a market hall. The art society, that was founded 200 years ago in 1817 to promote the arts and make art accessible for the broad public, is one of Germany's oldest art associations. It's been at its present location since 1993.

So 2017 is a special year for the Kunstverein, and they started to celebrate their anniversary showing the exhibition "The history show" over this year's first three months.

Tonight was the opening of even two exhibtions. Of course the excentric old lady offered her well-spaced edifice to two artists who at least in Germany need a bit of endorsement - for both of them it's the first solo exhibition on German ground, after all. 

On the ground level, in the third edition of the society's exhibit series 'best & boldest', which is a really bold titel, 35 year old British artist Prem Sahib shows his installations which intend to connect the intimate, the private, the hidden with the open and public. Thus the exhibit's titel 'Balconies' - the crossing from a dwelling to the outer world.

lockers from a gay spa
Lockers saved from a now closed down gay spa in London, still bearing some of its user's traces. 

dark room with birthday cake
Dark 'Dark Room' with a replica of the birthday cake Prem Sahib got for his first birthday. 

Sahib's work has a strong - hence bold... - gay impact that was extensively explained by the curator Tobias Peper; but I'm not really sure whether everybody in the audience got a grasp of what he was exactly talking about in his introduction; which would be totally on the audience, not on him.

The upper floor was made available for Canadian sculpor Liz Magor's assemblages. Surprisingly enough, this is also her first solo exhition in Germany, although she's been around for a while, and many might already know her from the 41st  Biennale in Venice in 1984 or from the 8th documenta in Kassel in 1987.

liz magor
An assemblage of discarded objects.  

Hamburg's excentric old lady had organized a really nice gathering for all her friends and patrons. And she picked just the perfect date: Today Germany celebrates the legalization of the 'marriage for everybody' (yes, better late than never) - so that nicely complements Prem Sahib's installations for Hamburg; the intimate and the private will hopefully never have to be hidden again.
And welcoming Liz Magor and her Canadian entourage matches tomorrow's Canada day - and in addition it's their 150th anniversary.

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