What has Kunsthalle Bratislava prepared for 2019? /Plans and perspectives of KHB

This year, Kunsthalle Bratislava (KHB) will offer an extensive and dynamic program featuring attractive domestic and international exhibitions, as well as other contemporary visual art projects. A total of 8 large and also small exhibitions at Kunsthalle LAB, accompanied by numerous educational and editorial outputs, the public online database of contemporary art will grow, and a number of external cooperations is planned. Furthermore, KHB as the leading institution of its kind will be applying for the grant Creative Europe with the international interdisciplinary art project Eastern Sugar.


Main exhibitions at Kunsthalle Bratislava


The concept and structure of the KHB exhibition plan in 2019 is based on the priority goals of the gallery, including the international exchange, promotion and presentation of domestic visual art as well as increasing its visibility abroad.


The first floor of KHB will host the Czech-Slovak exhibition project Inverted Romance in early April. The exhibition will present the works of five leading contemporary artists (Ivan Pinkava, Josef Bolf, Martin Gerboc, Jiří Petrbok, Richard Štipl). Through photography, paintings, drawings and sculptures, the authors reflect on the theme of inversion, which is fundamentally present in their works and fulfills a critical role in relation to the present. The exhibition is curated by Czech art historian Pert Vaňous, who is also the author of the eponymous book. In a broader sense, the notion of romance defines the manifestations of over-the-top fantasies. In this context, the "inverted" attribute refers to something overturned, upside-down, or even “deviant”. The exhibition premiered at KHB will be accompanied by a large eponymous publication, which reveals the concept of inverted romance in the works of the selected authors, introduced as a separate art history project at the Rudolfinum gallery in Prague last year.


In summer and autumn, KHB will house a sequel of an international exhibition entitled Orient 2 curated by Michal Novotný, the director of the Prague center of contemporary art FUTURA. He presents the traveling project Orient as a reflection on the identity of Central and Eastern Europe and the different creative approaches of the selected artists. Furthermore, the exhibition also examines the failure of one's own identity, which the curator considers a unifying aspect of this unclear area. The contradictory desire for pride and patriotism along with a sense of shame about our origin leads to the suppression and negation of some co-responsibility. In line with the long-term dramaturgy of KHB, this exhibition is based on the geo-political and socio-cultural framework of contemporary art, systematically presented at the institution. The collective exhibition project Orient has been presented at several European cultural institutions. In 2018, the visitors could see it at KIM? The Contemporary Art Center in Riga, the BOZAR Center for Fine Arts in Brussels and the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery in Krakow.


On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, a collective project by curator Lenka Kukurová will be presented in November with the working title Art in Political Context (Political Aspects in Slovak and Czech Visual Art after 1989). Both the exhibition and the planned publication refer to the revolution as a significant political milestone, which has fundamentally influenced the role and perception of art in society. The project explores the contemporary art that critically reflects social issues in the Czech and Slovak socio-political context. The exhibition also aims to map the forms through which Slovak and Czech artists reflect different political topics. The forced “engaged nature” of art has led to the devaluation of this notion in the past. The exhibition and the publication will reflect its gradual return into artistic and art history practice. The list of the exhibiting artists includes Dalibor Bača, Juraj Bartusz, Radovan Čerevka, Jiří Černický, David Černý, Pavlína Fichta Čierna, art groups Guma Guar and Rafani, Martin Zet and others.


Exhibitions at Kunsthalle LAB


The program of Kunsthalle LAB begins in February with an exhibition named Sissi Quartier, created by a group of Hungarian artists, anthropologists and curators of Polygon Creative Empire (Virág Bogyó, Orsolya Bajusz, Ágnes Patakfalvi-Czirják, Kinga Lendeczki). The project critically reflects the way brand building strengthens investments in real estate and “non-sites”, even in the field of culture. The title of the exhibition refers to MuseumsQuartier, an institution that is also a subject of interest of investors. The exhibition is a sequel of the project Stopover – Ways of Temporary Exchange premiered at Quartier 21 in Vienna in 2017. The show is curated by Judit Angel, Christiane Erharter, Dora Hegyi, Michael Geboltsberger, and Heide Wihrheim.


In April, the collective exhibition will be replaced by a solo presentation of Zorka Lednárová, a Slovak sculptor working in Berlin. The author will bring a large interactive installation resembling a monumentalized dice game, but with deliberately different rules. The work combines six different world maps, which do not only show political division, but also the indicators of education, corruption, writing systems, well-being, and culture after globalization, creating new, variable maps of the world through interaction with the spectators. The exhibition is curated by Lucia Gregorová Stach.


In July, KHB Lab will host a solo show of Lithuanian artist Žilvinas Landzbergas, whose works could be seen at the most recent prestigious Venice Biennale. Exclusively for KHB Lab, the artist will create a site-specific installation of various local materials as well as the ones brought by him. The installation will consist of natural elements such as wood, tree branches and roots, pieces of furniture, stones, etc. Installations of Landzbergas usually transform places into situations with their own time and space. The exhibition is curated by Lýdia Pribišová.


In autumn, Kunsthalle LAB traditionally hosts the international light festival White Night. The highly acclaimed and attended exhibitions organized in cooperation with the gallery and the festival present visually attractive and often interactive installations created specifically for the premises of KHB by Zuzana Pacáková, the director of the festival. Within the following weeks, the visitors can look forward to seeing the work of an internationally renowned artist.


At the end of the year, KHB Lab will host an engaged solo project of Deidi von Schaewen, a French photographer of German origin. The author focuses on architectural photography and is one of the most convincing international contemporary photographers. At Kunsthalle LAB, she will introduce a monumental photowall installation called Walls, created as a collage of images taken by the author in the capital of Slovakia. The exhibition project is supported by and organized in cooperation with the French Institute and the Goethe Institute.


Education at Kunsthalle Bratislava


The gallery-pedagogical program directly connected with the exhibition plan of KHB continues in active work with the audience. The educational programs elucidate the unusual world of art to different groups of children (Kunsthalle KIDS) and adult visitors (Experiment Art). The programs aim to reflect upon the selected themes and exhibited works and interpret them creatively, creating space for the personal approach and experience of each visitor. KHB offers various types of programs, lectures, discussions, guided tours and workshops for families, kindergartens, primary, secondary and higher education schools, youth, adults and seniors.


Every visitor of KHB is traditionally welcomed by art mediators, offering to discuss the exhibitions and works. In addition to the regular family Saturdays (February 16, 10 am) and the programs for schools, the program Kunsthalle KIDS also includes a new format Child Mediator, awarded with the Biela kocka 2017 award. Reversing the roles of the educator and the educated, children guide adults and provide their own perspectives on exhibitions (next tour of the current exhibition OBJECTive takes place on February 17, 3 pm).


Along with the curatorial, guided tours and discussions, the adult visitors can deepen their own creativity through the theoretical and practical program Experiment Art (the closest event takes places on February 18 at 5 pm). In addition the regular edition of the so-called children's guidebooks – interactive exhibition leaflets (not only) for children (11 published so far) – we are preparing an individual publication for children in collaboration of Daniela Čarná and Lucia Kotvanová under the title Draw Me a Sheep (Nakresli mi ovečku).


Accompanying and regular programs at Kunsthalle KLUB


In 2019, KHB will continue to offer public educational activities at Kunsthalle KLUB. Planned activities include presentations and projections by exhibiting artists, public debates on up-to-date topics with the participation of curators, as well as lectures by foreign art historians and theorists related to the exhibition program of KHB or other current themes and problems of contemporary art.


In February (February 11, 2019), a special guided tour is being prepared for the exhibition OBJECTive entitled Between Objects and Words: An Interpretive Walk through the exhibition OBJECTive with art historian Peter Megyeši, who will focus on searching for and revealing the meaning of the exhibited works. Through the lively interpretation process, he attempts to map the contents of the art works and verbalize what is seen. The aim of the guided tour is to understand the objects and to hear what the authors have to say about this age through them.


Kunsthalle KLUB will also host a discussion of curator, pedagogue and contemporary art theorist Anna Vartecká with artists Jiří Kovanda, Pavla Sceranková and Lenka Klodová (February 20, 2019). The discussion will focus on the topic of an object in their work, which oscillates playfully and seriously on the borderline between a written autobiographical text, intuitively formed process, booming organic matter and mechanical body record. In conversation, the artists will shed some light on the specific 3D thinking in their work.


An extensive accompanying program is prepared for the exhibition Inverted Romance, too. Each of the five artists (Ivan Pinkava, Josef Bolf, Martin Gerboc, Jiří Petrbok, Richard Štipl) will be presenting themselves on the exhibition in a joint interview with historians and art theorists reflecting on their work. The interviewing personalities will possibly include art historian Lucia Fišerová, who focuses on photography, art theorist, curator and pedagogue at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague Otto M. Urban, or philosopher, professor and translator Miroslav Marcelli. In addition, tours with the exhibiting artists and curator of the exhibition Petr Vaňous are planned.


The exhibition project of Lenka Kukurová entitled Art in Political Context (Political Aspects in Slovak and Czech Visual Art after 1989) will be accompanied by a premiere of the film Ask Your Parents 89 (Spýtaj sa Vašich 89), commemorating the events of November 17, 1989, with a discussion on 30 years of democracy in Slovakia (November 16 and 17, 2019). The film follows the successful project Ask Your Parents 68 (Spýtaj sa Vašich 68). The concept remains the same: an illustrated, emotional memento and an oral history of the memories of ordinary people related to a significant milestone in our modern history, this time on November 17, 1989.


In addition, the program of Kunsthalle CLUB will include regular discussions hosted by Nina Augustínová entitled Art for Public Space for the fifth time. The discussions aim to present the activities of individuals and organizations related to art and public art initiatives. The next event will take place on February 27, 2019, with illustrator Saturejka (Mária Sládečková) and painter Alexandra Barth.


Similarly, the regular format Talking Art Heads presents current trends and strategies in contemporary art at home and abroad. It aims to introduce the work of an artist or an artistic group to a wider audience. The leitmotif or connecting element of the selected artists is the blend of their artistic imagination, analytical approach, and attempt to offer a different perspective to universally accepted truths about the world. The program is created and hosted by aesthetician Erik Vilím.


The new and currently regular format TALK TALK about authors, actors and topics from architecture and design is led by Ľubica Hustá, a curator, director of Bratislava Design Week and editor of the online magazine MAG D A. On January 30, she hosted Dana Tomečková and Lucia Gašparovičová, who talked about their art, contemporary jewelry and about what makes applied art applicable and what does not.


Kunsthalle ARTBASE


The key mission of KBH is to educate and make visual art more approachable and visible. This is particularly true for contemporary Slovak visual art, which has an increasing potential for international success. In this respect, KHB intends to continue being a mediator, flexibly responding to current trends of spreading information through digital technologies. That is why it comes with a new project of an online database of contemporary Slovak visual arts called ARTBASE, the pilot version of which was launched in December 2018 at kunsthallebratislava.sk.


From the start, this project is formed as a compact and highly relevant source of textual and video information, primarily intended for experts (theorists, critics, curators), but also for the general public. The list of the first six artists (Anna Daučíková, Denisa Lehocká, Ilona Németh, Roman Ondák, Štefan Papčo, Pavla Sceranková) will be expanded with additional renowned Slovak visual artists (including Anetta Mona Chisa & Lucia Tkáčová, Boris Ondreička, Oto Hudec, Svätopluk Mikyta, Lucia Nimcová, Jaroslav Kyša and others). Twice a year (February, September 2019), an international committee of five members currently representing the area and the artistic and historical context of the V4 countries selects the artists to be included in the database based on the following criteria: generational focus (middle and younger middle generation of living artists), international acclaim and potential, quality of artistic presentation within the European context, authentic approach to contemporary themes and forms of art, critical approach.


From February to December 2019, the ARTBASE expert team plans to focus on expanding and and gradually dynamizing the existing database. Unique content will include new professional studies about selected Slovak artists by established contemporary art theorists active in Slovakia and abroad (KHB approached Petra Hanáková, Daniel Grúň, Katarína Bajcurová, Vít Havránek, Jan Zálešák, Kathrin Rhombergová and others). From May 2019, video profiles created in cooperation of KHB and a team of documentarists from the Academy of Performing Arts will be gradually uploaded to the database. Throughout 2019, KHB will continually develop and professionalize the online platform in line with current trends and requirements on the related type of databases or archives and launch the project internationally. One of the forms of promoting ARTBASE abroad 2019 is also approaching European art institutions with collections that include works by Slovak artists, with the idea of ​​using their communication channels for international audience.


Editorial projects of Kunsthalle Bratislava


Since 2017, KHB also puts emphasis on editorial and publishing projects, with a number of them planned for this year. Towards the end of February 2019 (February 24), it will introduce a bilingual catalogue of the exhibition OBJECTive with texts by Vladimír Beskid, Petr Ingerle and Jana Pisaříková during the finissage of the show. In addition to the extended theoretical contribution of the curator and the rich photographic documentation, the publication will also include a study by Czech art theorists reflecting the phenomenon of panel housing estates through the creative programs of selected Czech and Slovak artists.


In March 2019, we will introduce the Slovak version of the e-catalog of the Ilona Németh's exhibition Eastern Sugar, the English version of which was published on the website of KHB as well as on the international online publishing platform ISSUU last year. Thus, the Slovak version of the e-catalog will finally complete the archive and comprehensive documentation of the exhibition available for the domestic audience. This exhibition project won the Tatra Banka Foundation Art Award 2018.


At the end of May 2019, KHB will issue a publication on the exhibition Eagles and Doves, supported by the Goethe Institute in Slovakia as the main partner of the project. The exhibition acclaimed by the media and the audience took place in the summer of 2018 and focused on the Slovak and German visual art revolving around the issues of national identity and cultural exchange. The catalog reflecting these themes will include texts by the Slovak curators of the exhibition (Lenka Kukurová and Omar Mirza) as well as by Friedrich Dahlhaus, director of the Goethe Institute. The visually attractive publication will be bilingual.


The series of publications on major exhibitions at KHB will also include a bilingual catalog Art in Context in the fall of 2019, published on the occasion of an exhibition focusing on political content in Slovak and Czech art after 1989. The publication will present artworks not only in the context of arts, but also politology and sociology. In addition, texts by well-known Slovak sociologists (e.g. Oľga Gyarfášová and Grigorij Mesežnikov) are also planned. Further cooperation will be provided by various non-governmental organizations dealing with democracy and human rights issues (e.g. Post Bellum, Institute for Public Affairs, the initiative Spýtaj sa Vašich (Ask Your Parents)).


A special publishing project of KHB for 2019 is a book entitled Draw Me a Sheep, planned within the educational activities of the institution. Gallery educators Daniela Čarná and Lucia Kotvanová created a book intended not only for children, focusing on the phenomenon of drawing during the 20th and 21st century. We communicate through drawing routinely, either when providing directions or doodling during a phone call or a class. Similarly, an artwork often begins as an idea in the mind of an artist, who then materializes it in a sketch.


European grant Creative Europe


This year, KHB as the leading institution of its kind is applying for the European grant Creative Europe with an international interdisciplinary project Eastern Sugar. A series of planned activities for two years (November 20, 2019 – November 19, 2021) consists of artistic research, intensive international cooperation of curators, creation of new artworks, five international collective exhibitions abroad, participative installations, as well as an extensive interdisciplinary publication.


The project focuses on the issue of European sugar production, based on Ilona Németh's extensive exhibition at KHB premiered in 2018. Sugar is understood as a metaphor for the notion of Europe in a constant transformation. Through the language of contemporary art, the authors of the project want to illuminate the social consequences of political and business decisions, address the issue of responsibility, diagnose the roots of the current crisis, but, above all, to contribute to a better understanding of the European past and prevent recurrence of errors, thereby creating the premise for a better future.


The contracted partners who will take over the concept and implementation of individual parts of the project (exhibitions, training programs, publishing, etc.) are:

  • Rotor – Center for Contemporary Art in Graz (Austria),
  • Schafhof – European House of Art in Munich (Germany),
  • Gallery La Box/ENSA in Bourges (France),
  • T-TUDOK Inc. – Center for Knowledge Management and Educational Research in Budapest (Hungary),
  • FUTURA – Center of Contemporary Art in Prague (Czech Republic).