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Nevin Aladag: Occupation Shedhalle 2009


For a Practice of Pausing and Interrupting

Since it changed from the one-curator-model to the collaborative-curator-team in the year 1994 the Shedhalle has been a place for political art. In the beginning, the aim was to question, in the art scene, the relations between production and consumption as shaped by social hierarchies, to depart from traditional forms of the representation of art in the White Cube, and to connect art with the social environment. Art should no longer deal with reality solely in a protected space but intervene in a more direct way, interfere with reality, become part of the social environment. This new emphasis laid on socio-political attitudes grew on the background of a general change in attitudes focusing on communicative and social aspects in the European and north-American fields of art during the 90ies, and was debated under headings like activism, relational aesthetics, contextual art, institutional art, or media art.

To shape art as social happening, be process-oriented, collectively organised or transdisciplinary does not automatically mean to question the dominant culture. The changing teams heading the Shedhalle have been emphasising these differences again and again and have partly handled the differences in radical political ways. Today, we are confronted with an art scene that is as globalised as particularised, which has grown accustomed to interventional and activist practices, and in which many engaged artists of the 90ies have become authorities, and thus we have to put the question regarding political aspects in art differently.

We are of the opinion that nowadays we not only have to question the dominant culture, or rather: cultures, but the system of dual ideologies themselves, and, thus, the variable forms of inclusions or exclusions, the subtle mechanisms of the distortion of what’s right or wrong. Aren’t we ourselves cultural agents in an alternative production context part of a meritocracy, and to a larger extent than we like? Aren’t we fighting for attention and recognition of certain parts in the field of art? And aren’t we, since we participate in this “fight”, to an increased and increasing extent subjected to the pressures of flexibilisation and efficiency? Yet, the structural embedding in the mechanisms of the cultural production of meaning does not necessarily entail a non-critical attitude. Certainly not! In order to offer criticism one has to be in connection with and in a permanent discussion of the circumstances given.

Already early on, the Shedhalle continuously discussed their own status as role models of neo-liberalism. We still focus on this question, that’s why we regularly plan events involving the theories regarding new forms of subjectivisation. Yet we want to confront this question in a different way too, i.e. by making this place, the Shedhalle, very consciously a space for pausing and interrupting. We prove it by the array and presentation of our projects as well as the topics chosen – like aesthetics of sustainability, sleeping and dreaming as models of resistance, community versus society and individual, and historiography and the reflection of the media. This attitude, furthermore, can be directly experienced on site, on the fringes of the city. Stopping and pausing does not mean flight or recreation. It means the halting, the temporary stopping of the engine. We are convinced that is one of the most important means of art to be able to create a temporary time-out, to create pauses and interspaces.

In our opinion, to develop the necessary tenacity with regard to or resistance against our ideological patterns, first of all, means to depart from the dual system of unambiguousness. It means the encouragement and support of practices, constellations, and aesthetics that allow for ambiguity or even meaninglessness, that go beyond the conventional demand for making sense. We would like to cultivate the production of meaning that always includes its non/sense. We plead for discussions that will include contradictions. Our focus is on forms of non-comprehension, on dictions and contradictions as objections, on practices of dissent. Our focus lies on the fact that our culture has problems in dealing with differences.

Our culture not only has problems in dealing with differences beyond dual hierarchies but tries to enlarge them or, on the other hand, put them into perspective. We know the catch-words well enough: the clash of cultures, or “Multi-Kulti”. Our brave new world of consumption and technology furthermore homogenises and likes to simplify the materiality and, thus, the nexuses. By allowing the incomprehensible or even disparate, with regard to content as well as form, material, or scenography, we plead for an openness that might, by certain constellations and assemblies, lead to new possibilities and apprehensions which go beyond the social constraint of, demand for simplicity. Not to make things more complicated but to render their complexity and, thus, tenacity visible, perceivable. We emphasise this approach by treating all artistic formats and media – installation, performance, video, new media, or painting – equally. We strive for equal stature, not for balance.

We would like to complement the radical, the political, and the critical facets of the Shedhalle by facets of poetry, mysteriousness, experience, corporeity, and paradox. In order to crack the beautiful surfaces and render the truculent tangible. We intend to create a world of nuances, of oscillations that make different and diverse styles of thinking and acting possible. This may happen through interventional practices, media shifts, aesthetic disruptions, mysterious condensation, or solecisms. Things have to be said again and again, and they have to be said differently again and again; languages have to be invented and translations have to be found, that can depict and accommodate the small changes and differences in the course of events.

At the Shedhalle, art has always been research, too, and has always been considered a means of knowledge. We will continue this approach and will plead for possibilities of perception that go beyond general intellectual comprehension. The Shedhalle is a lot, it is platform, assembly room, office, White Cube, or bed room and living room, depending on the projects. We would like to address the audience as a multiplicity of individuals by thematic exhibitions, discussions, and exemplary constellations of people and objects. A lot is possible if people and objects are brought together to meet easily and as a matter of course. We hope that the Shedhalle, with your presence and help, will become a place for pausing and for interruption but at the same time a place of common spirit and of inclusion, too.

Anke Hoffmann and Yvonne Volkart


Manifesto, 2000
Shedhalle’s profile can be compared to an art association, although it simultaneously maintains the dynamic openness of an art laboratory. Since the changes in 1994, Shedhalle has defined itself as a place for the trial and production of new forms of contemporary artistic and cultural practice. Theorists, artists, architects, students, activists and curators have developed projects in continuously changing constellations. They elaborated topics and searched for new curatorial formats.

The main objective is not so much the presentation of individual artistic positions, but rather the integration of very different types of work into a constellation which provides and organises new forms of perception opportunities in relation to the present. The artistic transformation of topics within the institutional Shedhalle framework has continued to be a challenge. An exhibition space inherently carries an “obligation to exhibit”. The process of production and exhibition is not easy to interrupt. We adapt this obligation by using it as a means to meet the ends. It is the motivating force behind the never-ending search for experimental forms of “representation”.

Transparency and democratisation of the art system will remain an objective. Nowadays – in contrast to the early nineties – inter-disciplinary as well as process and topic orientated work can really no longer be interpreted as political acts as such.

The concepts of all Shedhalle projects have an explicit feminist perspective. The starting point for most projects is the processing of questions and topics with socio-political relevance, the conscious expansion of artistic practices to the interdisciplinary field of feminist theory, cultural studies, as well as aesthetic and political practice. We continuously examine our own projects and the developments they are bringing about.

The programmatic openness of Shedhalle is not so much obligated to the idea of expanding the notion of art, but very much to the idea of using the authority of an art space to interfere with politics and society. The potential of reflection will always be in close conjunction with concrete artistic and societal practices, which should be established as an object, reaching beyond the opinion formation of the artistic field.

This experimental way of tackling issues will continue to be the basis of co-operation and development of new projects. Thus, Shedhalle opens up a space for thought, for questioning and for developing new ways.


Shedhalle Online-Archive 1994 - 2009

The mental Comma instead of the Full-stop
Shedhalle Team 2004 - 2009, Sønke Gau and Katharina Schlieben
Shedhalle Zeitung / ed.1 / 04
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intend to create a world of nuances, of oscillations...