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In the coming months, Caermersklooster will be a building site: artistic and architectural interventions will gradually change the monumental structure, leading to the opening.

Caermersklooster becomes Kunsthal Gent

our proposal for a new development and presentation centre for fine arts in Ghent

Welcome to our temporary website

In January the Province of East Flanders handed over the Caermersklooster to the City of Ghent. In search of a new use for the premises, the city put out an open call for candidates who would turn it into ‘a development and presentation centre for fine arts’. Eight candidates came forward. Including a partnership of two Ghent-based organisations: NUCLEO, known for their artist’s studios, and art collective SMOKE & DUST (019) — known, among other things, for 019, a temporary-use project at Dok-Noord. The city approved their project proposal, which entails the transformation of the Caermersklooster into a dynamic meeting place for artists, organisations and the general public. The key was handed over on 1 June 2018. A new organisation was established — Kunsthal Gent vzw — in order to realise the partnership’s ambitious plans. Their intention is to grow beyond the founding initiative of NUCLEO and SMOKE & DUST (019) and to form a new common good, a new ‘we’ for the city, together with artists and the public. During the summer and autumn of 2018, Kunsthal Gent will be making this entire process public. Everyone who wants can be a part of it. The search for a new name for the old Caermersklooster is also part of this public establishing period. At the start of 2019 the Kunsthal Gent will emerge with its new identity and artistic programme.

Kunsthal Gent Technical Drawing 1

Mission & Vision

MISSION

KUNSTHAL GENT is an international space for the development and presentation of fine art in Ghent.

KUNSTHAL GENT creates a strong artistic and professional context in which to experiment with new ways of developing and presenting art. The meeting and collaboration of a whole diversity of artistic and public actors serves as the driving force for a hybrid programme in which these actors respond to each other and the spatial context.

This public and experimental programme is in a state of constant transition, bringing together the acts of showing and telling, learning and making, meeting and developing, researching and writing, viewing and imagining. Here fine art is both the goal and the means of exploring the city, of challenging society and welcoming the world into the space. Hospitable and contrarian, generous and radical, stubborn and engaged, KUNSTHAL GENT is an open space with art at the very core of its thinking.

Kunsthal Gent, Still taken from videographic documentation of Endless Exhibition (Prem Krishnamurthy) Michiel De Cleene

VISION

As a space for the development and presentation of fine art, KUNSTHAL GENT seeks to focus on:

THE NEEDS OF THE FINE ARTS SCENE IN GHENT

Artists need to be supported more than ever in the development of their practice due to the gaps that have recently been created in the eld of fine arts [1]

[1] Dirk De Wit, Rekto Verso – Beeldende Kunst: Eerste bilan na de beslissingen

The Ghent context presents certain possibilities and challenges:

1. Huge potential with regard to emerging (fine) artists thanks to the presence of educational institutions such as KASK, LUCA and HISK in addition to a host of exciting and ever-evolving off-spaces offering these artists the space to experiment.

2. A number of large institutions that would not be able to offer all these emerging artists a space in their programming, leaving holes in the fabric connecting emerging talent and established artists.

3. The fact that many young artists adopt Antwerp or Brussels as their working environment due to the lack of a space in Ghent that brings together development and presentation.

4. Ghent currently has no ‘kunsthal’ (a fine art exhibition space that does not keep a permanent collection) with international reach. The concession of the Caermersklooster provides the opportunity to address this gap and, at the same time, to transform the international model of the kunsthal into an experimental development and presentation model centred on local needs.

Based on these conclusions, KUNSTHAL GENT explicitly seeks to assume the role of an artistic hub, with two main objectives:

1. to encourage a strong fine arts scene through its function as a platform and habitat for fine art;

2. to support and realise the development projects of artists, collectives and other actors in the field of art.

Through a focus on collaborating with and connecting the Ghent’s fine art scene, we seek to encourage the growth of a lively and hospitable habitat for a diverse range of artists. The field of fine arts has traditionally characterised by its individualistic leanings, which inevitably lead to competition and sometimes incompatible positions. How can we make it so that knowledge and resources are more readily shared? What can the different institutions, art organisations and artists contribute towards a stronger ecology of the arts in Ghent? Can we see ourselves as a team of complementary players? KUNSTHAL GENT seeks to recognise the local players within their own specific identity while also striving, through collaboration and shared communication, for a greater visibility of activities that have, until now, been limited to a small target group, but which have the potential to cascade further into national institutions and their international counterparts.

local collaboration as a modus operandi

The field of fine arts has traditionally characterised by its individualistic leanings, which inevitably lead to competition and sometimes incompatible positions. How can we make it so that knowledge and resources are more readily shared? What can the different institutions, art organisations and artists contribute towards a stronger ecology of the arts in Ghent? Can we see ourselves as a team of complementary players? KUNSTHAL GENT seeks to recognise the local players within their own specific identity while also striving, through collaboration and shared communication, for a greater visibility of activities that have, until now, been limited to a small target group, but which have the potential to cascade further into national institutions and their international counterparts.

Talent Development

At KUNSTHAL GENT, talent development means the creation of a context in which artists receive the tools they need to grow both professionally and artistically. This requires time, space, dialogue and a budget: the organisation of meetings and the expansion of a(n) (international) network, the encouragement of reflection on specific developments, the promotion of depth, dialogue and collaboration, the creation of (international) presentation opportunities, the increasing of visibility by means of external communication and personal coaching, etc. These activities are tailored to the needs of selected residents.

Kunsthal Gent Technical Drawing 1
internationalisation

KUNSTHAL GENT is local in scale, but globally connected. It seeks to be a central node that connects Ghent’s fine arts scene with the national and institutionalised international field of art. Key partners include dynamic European spaces focusing on artists’ initiatives, collectives, alternative galleries, public initiatives and spaces offering artistic residencies. The objective is to incorporate the international level in the local practice, thus enriching both, such that the network and visibility of KUNSTHAL GENT and the artists in its programme both grow internationally.

the organisational structure as experiment

The way in which the artistic programme of KUNSTHAL GENT takes shape is in constant evolution, not least because it is for a large part entrusted to the various artistic players with whom we collaborate. A well-functioning organisation creates freedom for a diverse and autonomous artistic team that is in turn able to respond in a flexible manner to the present visions, expertise, external factors, opportunities, collaborations, tendencies, etc. The aspect of experimentation is therefore embedded in the very structure of KUNSTHAL GENT’s organisation.

By anchoring this aspect of experimentation in its artistic activities, KUNSTHAL GENT positions itself in contrast with the more crystallised discourse of established art institutions. Through its organisational model it seeks to transcend the separation between residents, artists, organisers, curators and critics and to explore alternatives to overly hierarchical decision-making processes. All these actors are always welcome to be a part of the process of shaping the artistic programme and can change roles during the course of their trajectory. Furthermore, with a collaboration characterised by frequent shifts at the organisational level, KUNSTHAL GENT creates an ideal climate for experiment, networking and the opportunities for development that arise out of this for all involved.

One institute that has successfully tried out a comparable artistic model is CCA Glasgow. ‘Open source programming’ is the term they use to describe the way in which they collaborate with the broader art world in parallel with their own core programme.

To make this policy work, two elements are vital. The first is co-ordination. As activities grew in the spaces, we created a role for someone to liaise and co-ordinate the multiple events across the building. The second vital element involves selection. Clearly such a policy could easily be taken advantage of or it could quickly become a kaleidoscope of random events. To prevent this, each event and every partner programme is considered internally and every new event must be proposed to CCA. (…) The benefits for everyone from this include a much greater feeling of ownership of the space by a wider spectrum of the arts community.”[2]

[2] CCA Glasgow – Open Source Programming

a broader view of fine art and the artist

KUNSTHAL GENT seeks to be a place where the various disciplines in the arts challenge and influence each other. In this ambition, fine art is seen as the primary flow, constantly being fed and challenged by a wide variety of artistic practices at the crossroads of architecture, design, audiovisual art, performing arts and art in the public space, among others. This decision places fine art at the centre of a new, vibrant context, both in terms of its urban setting and as a result of the presence of artists, curators and art organisations who, with their varied and moving practices, add character to the public platform at KUNSTHAL GENT. This broad approach is essential for KUNSTHAL GENT. It transcends not only traditional definitions of artist, curator, critic and designer, but also breaks down the walls between individual, collective and organisation, thus enabling new possibilities for networking and a connection with new or different audiences.

development and presentation as a reciprocal continuum

At KUNSTHAL GENT, the functions of development and presentation are part of a continuum within which the various parts of the artistic programme are free to move. When development and presentation projects challenge each other, the lines between them blur. Development is made visible: the experiment, trial and error, the unfinished and the inherent processes involved in artistic development feed into the public platform of KUNSTHAL GENT. Conversely, presentation opportunities are used as a basis for experimentation and as a starting point for a process in which artists are challenged to relate to the substantive and spatial context. In all its facets, KUNSTHAL GENT’s activities are characterised by a research-oriented attitude – reflection through practice – which relates presenting and making to each other.

a space-specific presentation context

The artistic programme at KUNSTHAL GENT is a result of the interaction between the impressive architecture of the building and the spatial interventions that will be carried out within it. These additions function as a new platform within the existing structure. A constantly changing scenography invites artists to react and offer an answer to this physical reality. The following questions, worded by Eastside Projects (UK), serve as an inspiration to us in this:

“How can architecture and design support exhibition making alongside the curation process? Can architecture and design be understood as a form of curation? Can we imagine a context for exhibitions and exhibition making that produces rather than embodies or represents the exhibition itself?” [3]

[3] In: User’s manual Eastside Projects, Draft Five. Eastside Projects, Birmingham 2012.

“The artist comes in, makes a gallery, and then goes away. And then another artist comes in, and that gallery is now part of that artist’s work” [4]

[4] Gavin Wade, ‘Eastside Projects, Birmingham UK’, in: Artist-Run Europe, 2016.

meeting and dialogue

The Caermersklooster was once a refuge for monks; after that it also served other urban functions (as living quarters and as a place to exhibit art, among other functions). The spaces still show the traces and symbols of this religious and worldly history. We would like to continue in this building’s history of hospitality and layeredness by serving as a refuge for the arts — not by hiding within its walls, but by initiating a dialogue between ourselves, the city and the international community.

KUNSTHAL GENT serves as a host for diverse actors and dynamics within the field of fine arts. Its hybrid programme arises from a fertile field of tension between the artistic team and various ‘content providers’ — stakeholders who, on the basis of their own practice and with varying positions, contribute to the various flows of development and presentation. This continuous dialogue offers enrichment with respect to individual artistic practices as well as partner organisations.

After all, the power of art lies in what it can bring about, what it can make discussable, in providing fresh perspectives and contrasts, new ways of reading, and so on. Art must therefore constantly enter into a dialogue with (other) art, artists, writers, thinkers and cultures. KUNSTHAL GENT aims to be a hub connecting (fine) art organisations in Ghent, large and small, a meeting place that connects the local and international, and a place that promotes knowledge sharing, cooperation and solidarity between the various organisations. In doing so it is important that difference, dissonance and incompatibility are also included in these conversations:

“Things come alive when there is friction.” [5]

[5] Francis McKee, ‘The Return of the Fantastic Institution’, talk at BUDA Kortrijk, 24-02-2018.

fair practices, gender balance, diversity, sustainability

KUNSTHAL GENT strives to achieve uphold practices that are fair and both socially and ecologically maintainable throughout all levels of the organisation. As active members of Greentrack Gent, NUCLEO and SMOKE & DUST are working together towards making Ghent’s cultural sector sustainable. This is manifested in all parts of KUNSTHAL GENT: in its energy-efficient use of space, fair payment of artists and staff and its even gender balance (including the coordinating team, the artistic team, the artistic committee, the programming, etc.). In order to further develop our vision with respect to fair practices, we look to the Dutch Fair Practice Code and ongoing projects in the Flemish cultural sector. [6]

[6] The Netherlands: Platform BK

Promoting diversity begins with the ‘decolonisation’ of the organisation itself. How can we design an institution that is relatable for a diverse group of people? The open structure of the organisation (an artistic team of four permanent positions and three rotating positions) makes it possible for new voices to be heard in its artistic core. In order to develop an approach that can really make a difference, the proposed experimental organisational structure is of great importance. The thought process surrounding diversity will be an integral part of the discussions held by the artistic team, and by extension the whole organisation. [7]

[7] References, among others
Buda Kortrijk – The Return of the Fantastic Institution;Internationale Online – Decolonising Practices;

“Things come alive when there is friction.”

Francis McKee, ’The Return of the Fantastic Institution’

Kunsthal Gent, impression, Michiel De Cleene
Kunsthal Gent, impression, Michiel De Cleene

ARTISTIC PROGRAMME

The spatial context as a basis for the artistic programme

The spatial context of KUNSTHAL GENT is a defining factor for its artistic activities. At KUNSTHAL GENT, the scenography is made an integral part of the artistic programme. It literally creates and organises the space for all other artistic activities.

1. Scenography begins with the analysis of a place, with a reading of the current situation. The Caermersklooster is a monumental and historical building, as evidenced by the visible traces amassed over time. When traces are removed or added, the various spaces are punctuated, experienced and used differently as a result. The objective of the scenography is to detect untapped potential and to offer new functionalities, always relating back to the history of the building.

2. The monumental grandeur of the building provides opportunities for defining the different spaces according to specific functions. KUNSTHAL GENT aims to make all the different functions visible, including processes that conventionally are relegated to the background. A space does not end at the door; scenography can serve to guide a visitor/user and to connect spaces. This results in a layered quality that invites people to come together and engage in dialogue.

3. At KUNSTHAL GENT, the scenography is regarded as an integral artistic process that is constantly in flux, challenging the modes of development and presentation while also holding them together. A number of initial punctuating interventions serve to alter the spatial experience. This sets a process in motion that is never-ending, remaining subject to the wishes or needs of artists, their work, the public, and so on.

4. The physical environment is not a ‘white cube’, not a neutral space. It carries traces of its history, is continually shaped by the interventions of artists before being called into question once again. In this way, KUNSTHAL GENT responds to the changing role of space in the arts and in society: from the neutral background of a museum (the white cube as carrier for the autonomous artwork) to space as an integral part of the work with artistic and social consequences.

Five flows

In the artistic programme of KUNSTHAL GENT we differentiate between five main flows that feed into the artistic dynamic of the place. The first two flows, presentation and development, make up the core programme. In constant dialogue with these first two flows, a three-branched flow of activities arises, comprising collaborations with long-term, project-based and one-off partners. These tertiary activities are of varying intensity and duration depending on the wishes and needs of those involved.

These five flows are coordinated by an artistic team, which through a process of selection, dialogue, and assessment, continuously monitors the quality of the programme in continual interaction with each other. At all levels, a certain interweaving can occur whereby actors can change their function or position. A one-off partnership could well develop into a long-term partnership, an artist from a development flow could be included in a presentation flow or even become a temporary member of the artistic team, a long-term partner could develop a spin-off programme within the framework of a presentation flow, and so on. The inflow can also take place in various ways: by means of an open call, through the network of the artistic team or by way of spontaneous proposals, for example.

In practice, the subsequent subdivision of activities is porous, but remains a means of differentiating the main dynamics that drive the programme. Presentation and development flows generate larger clusters of activities. The various forms of collaboration provide input for these clusters but also result in their own distinct activities.

“Spaces today don't need to be curated, but occupied.”

Claire Bishop

1. Presentation flows

Three larger (in terms of time and budget) exhibition projects will be organised each year. These will each be publicised widely and will be accompanied by a clear artistic statement. These projects may originate from an individual, an existing collective or an as-yet-unformed group that is still in development. All aspects (duration, nature of the interventions in the space, new or existing work, interaction with or by others, if there are any temporary interventions, spinoffs, related events, publications, etc.) are determined by the artistic team and the artists in mutual consultation. This programme will be established far in advance so as to allow sufficient coherence, external communication and preparation time. The possibility of interactions with ongoing development flows will be identified and facilitated by the artistic team. 

2. Development flows

The development-oriented flow consists of six development projects based around selected residents, whereby the facilities of KUNSTHAL GENT are utilised and specific links made with the broader field of art. All of the projects’ specifics (duration, nature of the support given, possibilities for intra- or extra-muros presentation as part of the project, etc.) are determined in consultation with the selected artists. This degree of openness allows us to respond to the diverse needs of diverse artists. The contents of the development flow may be highly varied, playing out either behind the scenes or in full view. Opportunities that present themselves along the way within the presentation flows are identified by the artistic team and facilitated if desired. Information about development projects is made available on the website.

3. Long-term partnerships (Curatorial Studies, Art Cinema OFFoff and das Kunst)

Long-term partnerships with organisations serve to constantly feed the artistic programme of KUNSTHAL GENT. These partners use the building as a base for programmes of their own devising and are always welcome to become part of the artistic team. They also regularly interact with the substantive and spatial context as well as with the core programme of ongoing presentation and development flows. Activities originating from these partners are in principal funded by the partners’ own budget. However, depending on the extent to which the activities are embedded in the main presentation and development flows, they may be (co-)financed by KUNSTHAL GENT.

4. Project-based partnerships

Project-based partnerships with preferred partners: organisations that — in light of current needs, opportunities or affinities — can make an interesting addition to the artistic profile of KUNSTHAL GENT, and vice versa. These more temporary partnerships add to the substance of the activities of both organisations. The temporary nature of the projects keeps the inflow of audiences, organisations and artists fresh at KUNSTHAL GENT.

5. One-off partnerships

A fifth flow of activities that take place at KUNSTHAL GENT are receptive partnerships based on external requests. In this case it is mainly the (residual) space of KUNSTHAL GENT that is made available to organisations with clearly defined requests to use the location for their own activities. KUNSTHAL GENT invests no budget of its own in realising such initiatives. The artistic team sees to it that only initiatives with an affinity to the mission of KUNSTHAL GENT are permitted use of the space.

Design as a platform

The graphical identity of KUNSTHAL GENT functions as a medium for the communication of the organisation and its activities, while at the same time serving as a platform for artists/graphic designers. KUNSTHAL GENTS’s goal is to position itself in contrast with and in protest against the standardisation of communication — a trend that is unfortunately creeping into the broader cultural sector, whereby the viewer’s graphic preferences are confirmed rather than surprised. As such, KUNSTHAL GENT regularly invites graphic designers to contribute to the identity of KUNSTHAL GENT through their work, thus exhibiting graphic design in optimal conditions. In this way, online and offline communication, just like the physical presentation space in the building, becomes a platform artists can use for experimentation and presentation. As a tool, the public presentation of the design process is also fully in line with our goal of involving artists and the public directly in the creation and design of KUNSTHAL GENT. For the (Ghent) inflow we work together with LUCA School of Arts and KASK School of Arts.

Kunsthal Gent, impression, Michiel De Cleene
Kunsthal Gent, impression, Michiel De Cleene

“The new type of art institute cannot merely be an art museum as it has been until now, but no museum at all. The new type will be more like a power station, a producer of new energy.”

Alexander Dorner, The Way Beyond ‘Art’

BY WHOM? FOR WHOM? WITH WHOM? AND HOW?

BY WHOM?

The artistic project proposed by core partners NUCLEO and SMOKE & DUST (019) relies on firm common ground and a specific complementarity. The relationship between the two ensures an open attitude towards cooperation with other partners — long-term and occasional, local and international, young and experienced, established artists and new urban voices.  

In their artistic activities, both NUCLEO and SMOKE & DUST are strongly anchored to a commitment to quality with regard to the hosting of their partners. Both organisations deliberately work with diverse actors from the field of fine arts, from individuals and collectives to organisations: in NUCLEO’s case, this is mainly with a view to creating space for artistic development, and in the case of SMOKE & DUST it mainly to facilitate the creation and re-evaluation of different forms and platforms of presentation.

It is precisely this shared openness to a focus on collaboration with other artists and organisations that brings NUCLEO and SMOKE & DUST to its search for (literally) common ground at Caermersklooster. At the same time, their differences in function, approach, workspace, focus and audience, contribute a complementarity that creates for them an opportunity for self-development as part of this project: NUCLEO with the ambition of setting up a development programme for fine artists, based in such a connecting space and in collaboration with the field of fine arts and its actors; SMOKE & DUST (as an organisation geared towards ‘moving practices’) by broadening its scope to incorporate a new presentation context where new possibilities and forms of artistic collaboration can be tested out.

For NUCLEO and SMOKE & DUST, the crucial binding agent necessary for achieving coherence on the common ground of the former Caermersklooster is their shared attention to artistic methods and their methods of working with artists: for these partners, the question of how artistic development can be supported through creation, presentation, reflection and networking goes hand in hand with an urge to question prevailing norms and to adopt an experimental approach to create new forms. As a developmental facilitator, the KUNSTHAL GENT project therefore aims to experiment with presentation forms as part of a process that is challenging, open and generous — but also self-examining — for all parties involved.

With this logic in mind, this partnership has in turn welcomed three additional, long-term partners from the outset who will contribute to the programme and make the organisation’s activities more wide-ranging and diverse, both artistically and in terms of audience. Art Cinema OFFOff, the postgraduate course Curatorial Studies and the art-educative organisation das Kunst have co-developed the proposal. Their experience with audiovisual experimentation, curatorial reflection and socially-aware art education directly supports KUNSTHAL GENT’s goal of cross-fertilisation through collaboration.

Kunsthal Gent Technical Drawing 3

FOR WHOM?

The primary target group of KUNSTHAL GENT consists of national and international fine artists, collectives and organisations in the field of fine art with great artistic potential, who feel a need for development, experimentation and dialogue. The readiness of these actors to seek out relevant ways of making their working and thought processes public is a crucial determining factor. We see the presence of a challenging, experimental presentation context in an urban setting as providing a great advantage with respect to the stimulation and activation of artistic development and likewise to the development of artistic organisations.

The need for development opportunities is very great among emerging artists: there exists after all a gap between art education and the professional field, as evidenced by the common practice of artist’s studios. More experienced and established artists may also have a need for experimentation in order to progress research into their artistic practice and to continue to transform it through stimulating forms of presentation. KUNSTHAL GENT seeks to serve these needs.

We will confront Ghent’s actors with Flemish, Belgian and international players. This internationalisation will have the effect of sensitively expanding the network of all involved parties. The mix of national and international artists, experts and organisations also offers a whole host of possibilities. Artists receive the opportunity to establish contact with international players and to gain an international perspective.

Participants can be part of the artistic programme via the development flow or the presentation flow. Presentation flows are intended to make artistic practices public by way of exhibitions and alternative forms of presentation. An exhibition is never the presumed objective of a development project, nor is it ever considered a goal unto itself. Instead, there is an active exploration of the possibilities for sharing such projects with the public in a suitable form (whether through artist talks, publications, texts in art magazines, or any number of other possibilities).

Given its function as a platform, bridge and development space for participating actors from the arts, KUNSTHAL GENT also aims to establish a pro-participation relationship with the public, whether this refers to peers, local residents, artistically interested parties or chance passers-by. KUNSTHAL GENT seeks to present itself as a welcoming meeting place with an accessible and public programme and in this sense aims to be an extension of the ‘public space’. A multitude of audiences is welcomed and given an insight into the programme as it develops, from the cultural actors mentioned above to art students and art lovers, to the youth of the city, interested locals and curious tourists. The ongoing exhibitions are free to visit and the development processes are made public. In this way, KUNSTHAL GENT hopes to reach and involve a broad and diverse audience, which is a crucial precondition for creating a fertile habitat in which the arts can thrive.

In line with this, its long-term collaboration with DAS KUNST also makes KUNSTHAL GENT an experimental space for art education. Although DAS KUNST usually caters to children of primary school age, at KUNSTHAL GENT the organisation will experiment with expanding its remit to include young people from the age group of 12 to 18 years. This art education component also makes up part of the artistic programme. Young people will be treated and supported in a similar way to other artists and organisations. Just like everyone at KUNSTHAL GENT, they will be invited (together with an artist as their coach) to actively relate to the physical and mental aspects of the environment.

Kunsthal Gent, impression, Michiel De Cleene
Kunsthal Gent, impression, Michiel De Cleene

“Starting today, I proclaim that every exhibition we mount is permanent.”

‘Endless Archive’ lecture by Prem Krishnamurthy

Kunsthal Gent Technical Drawing 4

WITH WHOM?

As an ‘artist-run space’, KUNSTHAL GENT not only sets out to develop itself with artists in mind, but to do so in a way where they are intrinsically involved in the process. The central means of accomplishing this is the artistic team, a collective and horizontal platform that takes on the role of curator at KUNSTHAL GENT.

KUNSTHAL GENT never simply asks the artist to present their work. The request is always to co-create and co-organise the space, too, and to commit to an involvement that goes far beyond the classical individualistic approach. The space and the artist’s contribution to this space become part of the artist’s portfolio.

Furthermore, in this process KUNSTHAL GENT seeks to transcend the defining roles in the arts. The artistic team is just one of the tools to this end, making curators of artists and vice versa. We seek to ensure that this process is always in motion, so as to remain relevant and offer a fresh, high-quality programme that the broad target group of KUNSTHAL GENT can relate to, while also keeping our finger on the pulse of the needs and developments among artists. KUNSTHAL GENT must not become bogged down by a monotonous discourse or by a focus on certain people. This is the reason why the curatorial responsibility at KUNSTHAL GENT is redistributed among a diverse and ever-changing artistic team.

The idea of having artists themselves curate the curatorial process was the guiding principle in devising this method of working.

Consistently translating these ambitions into a working system requires radical choices to be made with regard to the artistic team’s configuration, autonomy and decision-making process. The two core partners are represented on the team, as well as the three long-term partners, and we leave room for partners, artists and other actors who will be involved on a project-by-project basis. Temporary positions are important in order to be able to respond to ‘the diversity of the projects on which artists are working, (which) demands an increasingly diverse battery of skills and networks (…) This is one of the crucial issues that artist-run and artist-centred organisations are looking for an answer to today.’

Kunsthal Gent Technical Drawing 5

HOW?

General principles for how the presentation flows work

KUNSTHAL GENT develops various different presentation flows. A presentation flow is a cluster of activities surrounding the work of one or more artists. The backbone could be an exhibition, but this would only serve as a basis for various other public activities and interventions.

Presentation at KUNSTHAL GENT provides a public platform for:

1. emerging and established artists;
2. individuals, collectives and organisations
from Ghent, Flanders and abroad; and
3. new work that is created in the context of a residency, collaboration, existing work, etc.

KUNSTHAL GENT’s framework in the creation of presentation flows is targeted at the development of artistic practices in a public setting. The mixing and meeting of artists — emerging and established, local and international —, curators and organisations in the presentation flows gives rise to a network that extends across art schools and the established, professional circuit.
A multitude of activities are developed through this network that alternate freely between museum presentation forms, urban interventions and social-artistic practices.

Target group and selection

In the presentation component, KUNSTHAL GENT invites both artists that are still engaged in the development of their artistic practice as well as artists who already have a mature practice but still feel a need to experiment. The artistic team selects artists, collectives or organisations around which a presentation flow is then developed. In this process attention is paid to locality (a balance between Ghent-based, Flemish and international artists), diversity and gender.

An anchoring in the space

All the possibilities of the specific location are explored in the setting up of presentation flows. For example, formats are developed based on untapped artistic and social-artistic potential in and around the building.
By way of comparison: at 019, flags and a billboard became part of the artistic programming, based on the physiognomy of the building and its immediate surroundings.

General principles for how the
development flows work

Development programme for 6 residents per year. It supports artistic practices through personal development processes (individual or otherwise) for fine artists, collectives and artists’ initiatives. Collaboration with the broader field of the arts serves as a basis for this support.

Specifically, KUNSTHAL GENT aims to focus on development by establishing a support programme for emerging artists as well as artists and artists’ initiatives that have reached a pivotal moment in their careers/histories.  

KUNSTHAL GENT creates momentum in artistic trajectories in order to enable new steps to be taken. The development programme is a framework within which the most appropriate support can be sought for each resident.

Development at KUNSTHAL GENT comprises an independent programme, in addition to, but not independently of, the presentation programme. It is also possible for residents to become part of a presentation flow, but this is not a given. Rather, it is a subject of discussion in the long-term dialogue that is held with each of the residents. The development programme takes shape during discussions in a working and meeting place on the premises.

Target group, selection and duration of the residencies

The artistic team actively searches for candidates and selects from a continuous open call. In this selection process, attention is always paid to ensuring a variation of ages is represented (not only emerging artists are eligible for a residency, but also artists at a pivotal moment in their career), to international, Flemish and local representation (guideline: always at least one international artist, always several artists affiliated with Ghent), as well as to diversity and gender balance. Residencies vary in duration, depending on the specific demands and needs of the artist.

Tools

1. Budget: general and practical support as required

2. Meeting place: a place where people can collaborate, reflect and enter into dialogue. This space is simultaneously the meeting place where the public programme takes shape and the place where the public gains insight into the development programme through artist talks, open round-table discussions and other insightful events.

3. Accommodation: KUNSTHAL GENT would like to offer one or two international artists at a time the possibility of accommodation. Such accommodation is an important stimulus for international collaboration.

4. Partnership and network: a key ambition of the support programme is to link the art scene in Ghent with that of the wider world of art. KUNSTHAL GENT helps to establish the necessary contacts effectively, and with this hopes to build a ‘highway’, a more closely connected field of arts that facilitates actors in the field of art in finding each other more easily. It is the hope of KUNSTHAL GENT that an attitude predisposed towards collaboration can thus arise.

“The new type of art institute cannot merely be an art museum as it has been until now, but no museum at all. The new type will be more like a power station, a producer of new energy.” [8]

[8] Alexander Dorner, The Way Beyond ‘Art’: The Work of Herbert Bayer, ReInk Books, 2017 (1947), p. 116.

By continuously encouraging the engagement and interaction of its development and presentation flows, KUNSTHAL GENT seeks to bring together making, presenting and thinking in one place. A place geared towards envisioning, branching out, re-examining, reworking, unleashing and derailing. KUNSTHAL GENT is a highway and a power station for the fine arts, but also a side path, a stopping point and an undefined space where new energies are given time and, above all, space, to develop and to show themselves to Ghent and the world.

Kunsthal Gent Technical Drawing 6
Kunsthal Gent, Still taken from videographic documentation of Endless Exhibition (Prem Krishnamurthy) Michiel De Cleene