The matchmakers make their members get in touch without any obstacles in between, their motivation being completely non-commercial. Based on a non-profit operating principle, the art societies are exhibition venues and laboratories for art production, developing and pushing experimental art further in all its forms. This includes painting and sculpting as well as performance, digital art and art walks on which artists take their guests along to walks with a focus on art or the artist’s view on the area.
It is apparent: Big exhibition venues and museums often cannot keep pace with the art societies. They are spontaneous, dynamic and therefore able to treat art and artists in that very way. Thus, it is often not the museums but the art societies who trace down up and coming young artists, provide ateliers in order to support them with their first exhibitions. Curiosity is the leading principle here, fear of contact is naturally, the reason being that art societies are not dependent on big audiences or large numbers of buyers.
„Jahresgaben“ to honour the members
International neighbors are therefore prone to an envious glance at how art is dealt with in Germany. Visitors enjoy frequently changing exhibitions, luring them out of their everyday-life into the middle of exciting new positions in art. Members of Art Societies are regularly rewarded for their loyalty with the so-called „Jahresgaben“. This way, artworks by Tony Craigg or Thomas Schütte for example had been exposed in Cologne and the Ruhr Area. And, who knows, maybe Alex Wissel will be available next. You don’t know who that is? Nevermind, this can change soon.
Let us introduce to you
What began as a self-confident movement away from the dominant corporative state in the 19th century is still working well today. There are 300 Art Societies in Germany, 63 of which in NRW alone. Everywhere they support and feed into the development not only of the local but also international art scene. They all differ in how they do that so let us present you at least how nine of them go about this supertask. The videos are part of the series "99 SECONDS" by the Institut für Kunstdokumentation (iks) and were shot in cooperation with the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Deutscher Kunstvereine (ADKV).