Kunsthalle Bratislava (KHB) is a non-collecting organization subsidized by the state with an exhibition, documentary and educational focus and a nationwide coverage in contemporary visual art. The main mission of our organization is to present contemporary visual art professionally and consistently in its breadth and diversity, chart it systematically and exhibit it professionally to the domestic and foreign audiences. The international support and visibility of Slovak art is yet another objective of KHB. KHB is headquartered in the exhibition and administrative spaces of the House of Art in the heart of Bratislava.
KHB was founded by the decision of Ministry of Culture on January 1, 2014 as a result of long-term initiatives of artists and theoreticians and the broader cultural public to create a representative exhibition space in the capital of Slovakia. Originally, KHB was founded under the name Slovak Center for Visual Arts (SCVU) and it fell within the organizational structure of the National Cultural Center (NOC). From July 2016, it became a section of the Slovak National Gallery (SNG) with special status. On January 1, 2020 it was founded as an independent state-run contributory organization of the Ministry of Culture under the official name Kunsthalle Bratislava, and with its own Founding Charter.
Kunsthalle 1st Floor hosts collective exhibitions of contemporary art whose themes have the ambition to fuel public debate, tackle current social and cultural issues, and generally present and reflect on the current trends in contemporary visual art. The exhibition program portfolio also includes separate domestic and foreign presentations of visual artists who are open to different interventions and experiments, and to invited exhibition guests. The participative methods in the creation of exhibitions and the desire to engage in a wider social discourse is accompanied by the intention to internationally establish and contextualize the present works of artists.
The selection criteria for exhibitions include the overall diversity of the exhibition schedule and the international relevance and timeliness of the presented works of art. The KHB exhibition profile prefers diversified projects in terms of the artistic media that interact with the architectural properties of the exhibition space in the House of Art or give way to a creative and conceptual interplay. In 2020, the KHB Gallery Committee was established as an advisory body to the KHB statutory representative. It is actively involved in the creation and approval of the exhibition schedule and it steers its other professional activities. The visitors may enjoy the company of specially trained mediators who are ready to communicate and explain contemporary visual art.
Kunsthalle LAB is the so-called "Window Gallery", which uses the gallery windows to communicate with the passers-by. The dramaturgy of this exhibition space mostly aims to host the exhibitions of interactive and site-specific nature, it uses light and sound, active participation of the passers-by etc. One of the programming lines of this exhibition space is the socio-cultural and socio-political projects that communicate towards the public space of the square. The program is based on a dynamic model of shorter alternating exhibitions.
Kunsthalle EXT is the outdoor exhibition space located in the vicinity of the House of Art on Treskoňova Street. It was created in 2019 in cooperation with the initiative Living Square. The acronym EXT, which stands for the exterior, exit or extension, reflects the location of the gallery in the public space of the city and its programming focus. The sizable objects, installations, and other types of visual works broaden the context of the exhibitions in the interior of the building and have the ambition to function as an artistic "teaser" in the broader public space. The selection of works for this space seeks to improve and cultivate the surrounding urban area and activate the community life and communication outside the gallery.
Alongside the exhibition and presentation activities, the KHB documentary efforts are a priority in the area of professional activities of KHB. The aim of our documentary activities and projects is to professionally map, systemize and store contemporary Slovak visual art in its international context. The standard equipment includes the publications published in-house or in cooperation with external partners. With the existing communication and IT tools, KHB also creates and distributes electronic catalogs, which pave the way for a rapid and ecologically inexpensive promotion of art. In addition to the monographs, anthologies and exhibition catalogs, KHB also offers professional leaflets to each exhibition.
ARTBASE is an online database of contemporary Slovak visual art, which was created and made available as a separate project on the KHB website in 2018. It includes the comprehensive profiles of authors (artists) selected and nominated into the project by an international panel. The individual entries in the database include the professional profile texts written by the leading domestic and foreign theorists of art, which were written specifically for the Artbase project. In addition, the entries include high-quality photographs and other additional information about the authors. The relevance and timeliness of content is guaranteed by the writers and authors themselves.
LIBRARY is currently among the upcoming documentary projects at Kunsthalle Bratislava: the aim is to concentrate the relevant information and sources of knowledge on contemporary visual art. The Library, which KHB plans to set up in the House of Art, will be focused on contemporary Slovak visual art and global history, theory and practice of contemporary art exhibitions. The Library is to be established as a multipurpose community center for the professionals and members of a wider community who show interest in this area. Therefore, the ambition of the Library project is to offer a rich interdisciplinary literary archive, and involve innovative digital education tools.
KHB educational activities are an important layer in the organization's mission in the area of education through contemporary art. It opens the gallery to the general public, and it is instrumental in creating a community spirit. It is based on the active perception and knowledge of artistic values, which derive from the personal experience and the experience of gallery visitors as guests. The individual training programs are implemented through a participatory dialog and creative activities in order to develop creative thinking, skills and visual literacy in children, pupils, students and families (Kunsthalle KIDS), which is also an underlying principle in the so-called exhibition guides. The regular program Experiment Art is devoted to promoting creativity in lifelong learning and leisure for young people, teachers, adults and seniors.
KHB Programs are based on selected topics from the ongoing exhibitions and their connection with everyday and society-wide issues. The KHB education model also includes an open approach to visitors through the mediators – the students of art and art disciplines – who communicate with the visitors about the exhibitions and educational programs hosted by the gallery teachers. The educational mission of KHB in the field of education through contemporary art is methodological, research-focused, lecture-intensive and publication-based, with an active search for new target groups beyond the gallery gates in schools and public spaces.
Through a wide range of educational formats, the Kunsthalle CLUB deepens and broadens the exhibition context and presents contemporary visual art to the general public. The activities in the Kunsthalle CLUB category are carried out in the V-Club Night spaces and in the KHB exhibition areas. KHB regularly coordinates the exhibitions tours led by the curators and other experts, authorial presentations and projections of the exhibiting artists, moderated public forums and expert presentations of domestic and foreign theoreticians of art. The individual formats are inspired by the exhibition program, or respond to the current topics and areas in the world of contemporary art.