Kunsthal Gent is an experimental intersection for the presentation and development of contemporary art, located in a monumental fourteenth-century Carmelite monastery in the centre of Ghent since 2018.
During the weekend, Kunsthal Gent is an exhibition space that can be visited free of charge. On working days it is a workplace for artists and artistic organisations, but there are also public activities: from lectures and workshops to screenings and performances. At Kunsthal Gent, various artistic players and disciplines in the arts meet each other. Emerging, established, local and international names are invited: they develop their artistic practice or present their work in exhibitions.
Kunsthal Gent is a small organisation in a large building and therefore offers a lot of space for programs of partners, such as Art Cinema OFFoff, the Curatorial Studies course of the Ghent Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KASK), the art education organisation das Kunst and others. Three times a year there is an opening weekend with a new series of exhibitions. In the permanent exhibition programme Endless Exhibition*, curators and artists add exhibitions without an end date. In addition, Kunsthal Gent houses the development programme Permanently Practising, offering six artists, collectives, organisations or collaborative projects a grant for a work period each year.
Encounters and collaboration are the driving forces behind a hybrid programme with different layers and speeds, in which various artistic players react to each other and to the spatial context. Visual art is central to the programme, which is constantly nourished and challenged by architecture, design, audiovisual art, performing arts and art in public space. With this broad approach, Kunsthal Gent not only transcends the classical definitions of the artist, curator, critic and designer, but also breaks down the dividing lines between individual, collective and organisation. Kunsthal Gent offers these players a professional framework for experimenting with new ways of developing and presenting; it functions not only as an exhibition space, but also as a meeting place and as a base of operations; it builds and strengthens networks and opens the door to the city. With this approach, Kunsthal Gent aims to be a link between artist-run spaces, galleries, art schools and museums and to contribute to the development of a healthy ecology for contemporary art in Ghent.
Kunsthal Gent is certainly not a white cube. Compare it with a city, with a public space in which different identities come together and interact or rather exist alongside each other. Kunsthal Gent unfolds itself as a city in the making: always in motion, with rapid and slow changes at the same time. The works in the Endless Exhibition remain in place or are adapted, while spatial interventions, exhibitions and other public activities move around them. Some works will not withstand the resistance of new additions and will move, change or disappear. In the same way that a city is constantly being built, removed, repaired or adapted.
* The basis for the artistic programme at Kunsthal Gent is inspired by Endless Exhibition, a work by Prem Krishnamurthy (US).
"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’: The Work of Herbert Bayer, ReInk Books, 2017 (1947), p.116.