The idea of an online database is premised on the original definition of Kunsthalle Bratislava (KHB), as a Slovak centre of visual arts which also had the role of mapping and documentation of art, based on scholarly research. Having regard to the financial and operational difficulty of establishing and running a physical archive or library, KHB has come up with the new concept of a professional-standard online database. Uniquely to be found on the database are text profiles, and from 2019 also video profiles, of artists, which are specially produced for the purpose of their diffusion via ARTBASE.
The ARTBASE bilingual database is a selective online platform which follows the development of contemporary Slovak art via the headings “artists”, “groups”, “theoreticians” and “exhibition spaces”. In time-scale the database content is defined by the period from the 2nd half of the 20th century (i.e. artists born after 1950), while priority is given to mapping the state of, and the works produced by, the contemporary visual art scene.
The existence of a specialised database in online form finds its justification, firstly, in the demand from the artistic community and the wider community of domestic and foreign theoreticians of art. It is also in harmony with the institution of KHB and its key mission: to educate, and to make contemporary visual art accessible and visible. Hence the project of building a database directly at the KHB website has high potential to raise the status of the KHB’s evolving brand in the international setting, and thereby to advance the knowledge of and interest in Slovak visual art.
The structure, functionality, and also scope of the database content will develop and deepen in the perspective of the coming years. In its current phase the project presents the first six artist profiles – Anna Daučíková, Denisa Lehocká, Ilona Németh, Roman Ondak, Štefan Papčo and Pavla Sceranková. The artist profile is the central axis of the database. Its articulation and content (essential biography, textual characterisation, selective photo documentation, supplementary materials) are conceived with the aim of providing a consistent picture of the artist’s work.
Profiles of selected Slovak artists for processing and inclusion in the project were recommended by an international expert commission, consisting of leading figures in art theory and criticism, and also from gallery institutions in the Visegrad countries. The five-member commission was constituted in 2018 with the aim of high expert credibility, international collaboration, and also gender diversity, for Slovak visual art. The functional period of the commission is three years, and its members thus far represent the area and art-historical context of the four Visegrad countries. Nomination of artist profiles (or headings) designed for processing and inclusion in the database was the commission’s main task. The members of the commission are Małgorzata Ludwisiak, Kinga German, Michal Novotný, Nina Vrbanová and Katarína Trnovská.
“Another important feature of the database is its bilingual execution. The bilinguality of the text content is premised on KHB’s character as an international institution, and it enables us to pursue the goal of communicating our art and its qualities to the outside world. In turn, the international renown, activities and potential of the artists are among the main criteria for their selection and inclusion in the database content,” says KHB director Nina Vrbanová.
From a long-term standpoint, the project has the perspective of creating a compact and professionally highly relevant source of texts and pictorial information about Slovak visual art. The database offers a professionally guaranteed and qualitatively selected (with regard to the project’s international potential) survey of artists, their work, international collaboration etc. It is designed principally for professionals (theoreticians, critics, curators, and those with interest in a contextualisation of Slovak and foreign art); also, however, it is meant to serve the wider public as a supply of educational sources in this field.
The project editor Katarína Trnovská believes that the greatest contribution made by ARTBASE will be in continual, long-term collaboration with representatives of the Slovak visual art scene. “The reflections on the artists by experts, and the other contents of their profiles also, are authorised, and thereby we fulfil a basic precondition for the relevance of such a platform. Our long-term aim is to construct a priority resource, which will be frequently used by the professional public not only in Slovakia but also abroad.”
The project’s conception, structure and design was produced by an internal KHB team (Nina Vrbanová, Katarína Trnovská and Eva Šimovičová). Programmatic creation and development of the database was undertaken by the Slovak National Gallery’s Department of Digital Collection and Services – lab.SNG, headed by Michal Čudrnák.
This project has been financially supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic and Bratislava Administrative Region – Best Place to Live. The Slovak National Gallery also is a partner of the project.
The ARTBASE was launched on 18. 12. 2018 and can be accessed at the address: artbase.kunsthallebratislava.sk