Run by Leif Bennett, Maya Bringolf, Alexandra vom Endt, Ilse Ermen, Lena Friedli, Thomas Heimann, Leila Martin, Noëlle Pia, Rahel Schelker, Bruno Steiner and Annina Zimmermann
Basel's cultural policy is focused on the international art fair, on the three big art museums (Museum of Fine Arts, Fondation Beyeler, Musée Jean Tinguely) and Basel's well-established Kunsthalle with often inspiring and ambitious contemporary program. So there is quite a few things to see in Basel. However, with the general trend of internationalization, the artists themselves are losing possibilities to show and discuss their own work, work that is actually made in the city, here and now.
In 2006 we were a group individuals, artists, art historians, some young, some more experienced, some new to the city, some old witnesses of the city's cultural policy. A few of us had been friends before, most met in the context of this initiative. A few already had a history of curatorial activism in Basel or other cities, others were new to this. But what we all had observed is how the city had seen many initiatives rise and perish. Some art spaces had had an intense program that was meant to be temporary, eg. in houses waiting to be demolished, others had been run by artists' groups in changing coalitions. All of these the city let pass, watched them expire without any attempt to support them structurally.
There was however an ancient association, funded in 1974 by artists, now run by one elderly man, who over the last 10 years had lost touch with the active scene, but still received subsidies. By recruiting a large number of new members for the association, a new generation was elected to the board and took over responsibility. We are now proud to run the oldest Swiss art space continually run by artists.
So our advice is: Watch out for structures that already bring with them something you're interested in, eg. subsidies, a house, a public... and slip them on. New paths can be walked in well-worn shoes.
Our funding covers the costs of the space, public relations including printed matters, small salaries for attendants and a coordinator (50%). In addition to this we struggle to reserve a little fund to get each project started, looking for additional sponsoring. The artists and theoreticians selecting and organizing the shows and events are all volunteering professionals. Many of our projects are an attempt to contextualize and evolve an issue that also interests them as artists in their work. In addition to artistic quality, the engaging of different scenes, media, generations, people new to the city are aspects we watch out for. Hospitality is a big word for us.
Between us there is a continuous discussion about how to age, renew etc. Some artists have already left the board, new ones joined in. We have yet to figure and find out what will happen once any of the present key figures will leave us. We will keep you posted...
Thanks for getting in touch with us. We will be curious to learn more about the results of your research and send best wishes,
Vorstand Verein Ausstellungsraum Klingental