Public Role of Art Spaces in the Urban Context: The Case of Berlin

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Space begins with spatial thinking and Berlin brings forward relevant and innovative examples of (open) art spaces. The history of Berlin and particularly, the Fall of the Wall in 1989, had two main consequences in terms of this analysis: 1) It raised opportunities to redefine spaces; many buildings had unclear ownership and were recycled for art purposes; 2) Many such spaces offered unrestricted access, and this made them very attractive both nationally and internationally; given the increase of the mobility of artists in the world, Berlin remains a main target destination.
This proposal comes on the background of meaningful changes of the public role of art spaces in the urban context and of increased relevant partnerships across the public and private sector. The borders among art spaces and non-art spaces have become thinner. On the one hand, more conferences are organized in venues offered by museums regardless their content. On the other hand, more exhibitions find temporary venues outside established art spaces. This paper analyzes the public role and impact of (institutionalized and informal) art spaces in Berlin, such as: Kunsthaus Tacheles (pioneer open art house founded in 1990, in a ruin in the middle of the city), KW Institute for Contemporary Art (main venue of the Berlin Biennale, founded in 1990 on the site of an abandoned margarine factory), Martin Gropius Bau (established exhibition centre, which belongs since 2001 to Berliner Festspiele, an interdisciplinary cultural organization), Kunstraum Kreuzberg Bethanien (art house founded in 2002, in Kreuzberg district on the site of a hospital), Radialsystem (new space for arts which hosts interdisciplinary events, founded in 2004 on the site of a waste water pumping station), Torstr 166 (temporary interdisciplinary exhibition organized as a full house project, during autumn 2008).


Keywords: Art Space, Public Space, Berlin
Stream: Arts Policy, Management and Advocacy
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Natalia Irina Roman

Hertie School of Governance
Berlin, Germany


Ref: A09P0645