In 1985 the first course of studies in “free” fine arts was established at Zurich’s Design and Art Academy HGKZ (then still called the Zurich Design Academy). The intention was to offer a course of study that differed both from university courses with a design focus but also from a traditional academy training, and would take into account the practical considerations involved in the production of contemporary art. The course had a deliberate cross-media orientation. Theory, and as such the intellectual training so vital for artists today plays a central role; project-oriented work and the exchange with an international team of visiting lecturers complement the time each individual student spends in the HGKZ, and which serves the purpose of providing training as an artist.
© Photo: Stefan Altenburger Photography
Working in close cooperation with the lecturers and students of the fine arts course Kunsthalle Zurich is now realizing an exhibition project, which while conceived to mark SBK’s 20th anniversary is intended above all to provide a platform for the course together with its specific qualities and methods. Since 1985, some 96 artists have graduated from the course. Many of these graduates are today artists who decisively shape the local, national and international scene. However, it is very definitely not the aim of our project to present a "best of" show of graduates’ works, but rather to explore the question of how teaching functions, what it means for students and qualified artists, but above all to examine the relationship between the scope for development inherent in study and the art business and in particular to the representation of art in an exhibition institution. We seek to present a form where the visitors can experience the interfaces between process and representation, teaching and selection, the privacy of the studio and publication in an exhibition, not to mention the discourse of training and curation as intermediate spaces, as temporary and also constructive fields of conflict. Can you teach art? How is the transition to the art business accomplished? What is the significance of selection and critical discourse in training? What is their significance in the exhibition context? How can you transfer discourse from the one area into the other? And how can you encourage such a discourse amongst the art-viewing public, and possibly even alter how the medium exhibition is treated as a result?
As regards the "Bekanntmachungen" exhibition project we did not opt for an exhibition with curator or the shifting of the academy to the art context as a homogeneous model reflecting opposite poles; rather we combine a complex diversity of varying exhibition models and forms of presentation – whose duration is sometimes simultaneously and sometimes overlaps - with just as many versions of the discourse and publicly discussed issues relating to art, training and exhibition. Our aim is to achieve a permanently humming organism, which repeatedly places the systems of training and institutional representation of art in a constructive conflict, and should allow us to attempt an investigation of the questions posed previously.
In the foyer of the Kunsthalle an archive is installed in which the changing exhibitions, events and actions are continually documented and can be accessed via audio and video stations. The SBK Web site also provides in-depth insights into the SBK archive.
There are three different exhibition forms whose presentations are altered weekly or fortnightly: For "Der Strich (Teil I-IV)" (The Line /Part I-IV), which is curated by artists, we invited three former students to develop a concept, each inviting subsequently another three former students. The result is an accumulative exhibition, which alters four times, and which appropriates the exhibition space through the inclusion or exclusion of previous works along an imaginary dividing line or “Strich” that is repeatedly drawn anew. For the "Themenausstellungen" (Topical Exhibitions) the SBK professors invited four curators, who filtered out from the work by the 96 graduates of the fine arts course (SBK) focal points of the artistic production of recent years. In the "Bilderstreit" (Work Dispute) room there are eight individual exhibitions with eight individual works by SBK students and graduates, each of which will be the topic of a public discussion (moderated by the Kunsthalle) with two art critics and the exhibitors.
Finally, under the title "Arena" there will be a program of symposiums, congresses performances, video presentations and events alternating on an almost daily basis and lasting for the entire eight weeks of the exhibition. The location: the large exhibition room of the Kunsthalle.
"No Credits.", the free topical magazine by the seminar group "Kunst und Geld" (Art and Money) featuring articles on artist training will be available throughout the entire exhibition. The same applies to the "Museum Shop" set up by students or the permanent photographic "Documentation" of the exhibition by six former students. Finally a professor will give weekly information on the SBK course. Shifts of location will also take place: SBK events will be relocated to the premises of the Kunsthalle turning it into a temporary academy, while events in the SBK premises are a firm part of the exhibition project and thus of this exhibition program with its varying rooms, topics and duration.
Kunsthalle Zurich would like to thank:
Präsidialdepartement der Stadt Zurich
Swiss Re supports our education- and event program throughout the year.