ART OFF HAMBURG –
INITIATIVE OF INDEPENDENT ART SPACES IN HAMBURG
Did you know that Hamburg has a dynamic independent art scene dedi- cated to the latest developments in contemporary arts that operates outside the established art institutions? Tuned to the beat of the city and internationally active, these art initiatives create the conditions in which innovative art can be developed and tested.
There are more than 23 alternative spaces - from the city outskirts of Nien- dorf, Wandsbek Bergedorf and Ottensen/Altona to more central quarters like the Schanzen-, Karolinen-, Gängeviertel and the Fleetinsel weaving a tight web of artistic activities around the city, which has grown over the years and continues to proliferate. These places which are run and maintai- ned by artists can be found in all kinds of locations: in former schools, factories, warehouses, cellars, shops, an abandoned cinema, a orist and an erstwhile hairdressing institute, barracks and even the old buildings
of an entire historic quarter called Gängeviertel. Their multitude artistic concepts and thematic orientation, historic backgrounds and the number of members they each have are just as diverse and individual as are the venues themselves. But what they all have in common is the non-commer- cial focus and independent approach of their work, their autonomy and non-hierarchical organisation of their operations.
Fostering genuine dialogue with the public (which has free entry) and engaging in a range of international collaborations, these venues act as a platform for exploring and exchanging a variety of artistic strategies. This sustained activity is vital for stimulating the emergence of art as it is for simply maintaining artists’ studios and exhibition spaces.
06 Nowadays the term ne arts embraces many different forms of artistic ex- pression and has turned into the creative discipline par excellence. It gives shape to all kinds of ideas for life at present and in the future. Art of this kind can assume visionary character for our city, and beyond, if it is allowed to stay independent of market forces, is embedded in our speci c urban contexts and rooted in open discourse with an interested audience. Since this art constantly creates new and different societal models that are urgently needed in view of the radical changes in ecology and digitalisa- tion facing us.
So it is important to point out that neither the artists themselves nor the cultural agents organising exhibitions are renumerated in any way for their work! In 2018, artists and cultural agents working for Hamburg’s in- dependent art spaces spent 44,534 hours planning and organising public events without receiving any payment whatsoever. Involving some 1,435 artists and attracting 97,040 visitors from all over the world, the modest public funding for independent contemporary art production and artistic spaces continues to be utterly inadequate.
Thus ART OFF Hamburg, founded in June 2018 to represent the interests of the city‘s independent art spaces, has presented the Ministry of Culture and Media of Hamburg with a programme describing these conditions and calling for a radical overhaul of this dire situation. This small brochure, which we hope will offer residents or visitors to Hamburg an insight into the value of the city’s independent art spaces as creative engines and dynamic catalysts for the future, is intended as a starting point for a vision of Hamburg as a sustainable, ourishing centre for independent art.
We look forward to seeing you in our exhibitions!