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by San Keller


21 January 2011, 5 p.m. – 6.15 p.m.
Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Friedrichsplatz 18, Kassel
articipants: San Keller (SK), Rein Wolfs (RW) and approx. 30 guests
Minutes: Sylvia Rüttimann

After welcoming the guests to the fourth conversation, curator RW announces SK’s upcoming Digestiv (Walk). He says that a booklet on the walks will again be published and, as with the preceding walks, the talks will move between mediation and institutional critique. Here SK interrupts: the focus would not be on institutional critique, he says, but on the artist and engagement with his or her work.

The conversation then turns to the actual aim of the talks, the coming exhibition. SK explains that his original intention has changed due to the exhibition For Real at the Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen. He says he further developed the idea of having a conference room built in Fridericianum’s exhibition space in original size in which invited artists can meet for a conference to discuss a joint artistic work for the conference room. In St. Gallen, he invited artists to take part in an “exile parliament” in which the same agenda items were addressed that were discussed by politicians in the City Council. On account of this experience, he says, he wants to leave the exhibition space temporarily in order to bring artists who are in Kassel visiting documenta together in random groups to hold talks in real conference rooms, for example, of companies and public authorities. He himself would perform a guiding function which has not been defined yet in detail.

RW asks what exact issues should be addressed at the meetings. SK repeats that he will not provide specific topics, but rather a negotiation structure as well as an atmospheric framework. The conversations will not be public, he says. Only the results will be shown later: the conversations should be filmed and then edited into an end product which will not constitute the exhibition but will serve as a kind of “script” for the exhibition. At issue is the role of the curator, among other things. The curator should be in charge of mounting the exhibition and influence it by adding his own interpretations. Basically, SK would like to create something that RW terms  “collectively negotiated creativity”, arising from cooperation within the framework of prescribed structures. SK explains that the request for him to contribute art in public space to the project Europaallee in Zurich incited him to make this change. Here, he says, the task of art would be reduced to advertising for the location. However, he envisions having artists participating in the talks about the development of the Europaallee quarter in Zurich and thus having an impact on the projects as well as on the decision-makers.

RW raises a first practical objection: there is no funding available for the proposed period in 2012. But he likes SK’s concept, and also likes the prospect of working with the Kunsthalle Fridericianum on another project during the year of the documenta and of being able to communicate it on the Fridericianum’s website. He is not sure about what exactly the exhibition might look like. He asks whether SK envisions something similar to Pawel Althamer’s procedure. SK sees parallels. He is striving for a collective work and wants to challenge artists to work differently than they usually do. RW counters that while certain artists would benefit from deviating from their accustomed practice, others would not. For the curator, he says, exhibitions of artists whose intentions cannot be predicted offer great opportunities, but can also present difficulties from time to time. While he found the concept of Althamer’s collective work very good, he was not always happy with the aesthetic presented. He says that if he now buys a pig in a poke, so to speak, by accepting SK’s concept, he could be caught in a similar situation. SK replies that he views RW as the director and definitely wants the curator’s influence to be apparent. The project should explicitly not only deal with the relationship between artists, but it should also be influenced by the respective curator – in this case RW – who visualizes and implements it in the temporary guise of an exhibition.


San Keller was born in Berne in 1971. He completed his studies at the Hochschule der Künste in Zurich, where he now lives and works. Among his most recent solo exhibitions are R S - K P R S G B at the Neuer Kunstverein Giessen (2009), Show Show at the Centre Pasquart, Biel (2008), Concept and Commerce at the Maes & Matthys Gallery, Antwerp and Clever and Smart at the Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels (both 2007). San Keller participated in several group exhibitions including Our Subject Is You at the Weather Spoon Art Museum, Greensboro, Eine bessere Welt at the Bonner Kunstverein (beide 2009), Shifting Identites at the Kunsthaus Zürich (2008), Wenn Handlungen Form werden (2007/08) at the Neues Museum Nürnberg and The Go-Between at the De Appel, Amsterdam (2007).


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