Topologie zeitgenössischer Kunst

Participating artists: Matthew Antezzo, Glen Baxter, Andrea Clavadetscher & Eric Schumacher, Clegg & Guttmann, Maria Eichhorn, Liam Gillick, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Martin Hodel, Hans Küng, Sean Landers, Marko Lehanka, Dorit Margreiter, Jorge Pardo, Philippe Parreno, Andreas Pawlik, Hirsch Perlman, Dan Peterman, Nana Petzet, Mathias Poledna, Florian Pumhösl, readymades belong to everyone, Tobias Rehberger, Gerwald Rockenschaub, Julia Scher, Guido Scherl, Andreas Slominski, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Luc Tuymans, Peter Werba and Heimo Zobernig

The group show Backstage – Topology of Contemporary Art was the first exhibition organized by former Kunstverein in Hamburg director Stephan Schmidt-Wulffen and curator Barbara Steiner in the recently renovated market halls on Klosterwall.

This show was an initial spark towards future work that would be oriented around a dialogue between art and observation and what a Kunstverein can and should accomplish. Backstage provided a glimpse into the institution’s backrooms and artistic production, focusing on the transformation of the goals, rolls, and even what exhibition practices took for granted at the time. The show was staged in every room of the new Kunstverein, certain parts of which were still under construction. This produced inquiries into the location’s architecture as well as contemporary cultural activities in general.

Initial discussions with the artists made it clear that Backstage could not have any set concept. The show was not intended to be perceived as a mere illustration of contemporary questions about art and institutions. The ongoing inclusion of the artists’ evolving contributions and the continuous collaborative dialogues and thematic exchanges up until the opening between the artists and curators developed into an exhibition that exerted a significant influence on the debate over contemporary institutional criticism in the German-speaking world.

This self-assessment of art, artists, and institutions developed into a new method using the work on an exhibition as a medium for changing and opening debates around existing forms. In the context of a confrontation and refutation of traditional exhibition practices, the conversations were very fundamental in the development of this concept. This was only possible because all of the artists were ready for this sometimes very stressful dialogue. Many of these dialogues dealt with ideas for employing and redefining artistic strategies as instruments for influencing and changing society.

As part of our RÜCKBLICK series, we present numerous archival documents from the exhibition at that time, which you can also view at a later date in our Digital Archive.


Other exhibitions from the series “RÜCKBLICK“: