20 years Kunstverein

Founded in 1999 by local artists Udo Dettmann and René Havekost and with generous support by Dr. Dieter Bobbert und Dr. Hanns Kippenberger, the Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof is located directly in the Hamburg-Harburg Station above tracks 3 and 4. There, on a floor area of approximately three hundred square metres in the impressive spatial facilities of the former first-class waiting room with its historical coffered ceiling, contemporary art is on display.

Following an initial focus on painting, exemplified by such events as the major Franz Gertsch exhibition in 2000, the Kunstverein programme gradually evolved under its various curators, Wilhelm Figger, Nina Möntmann, Mathias Güntner and Ulla Lohmann. Increasingly, efforts were undertaken to present developments in contemporary art of a wide range of media, and to address theme-related issues of artistic production. Group exhibitions such as "Eigene Systeme" (2002), "Plattform Taubenstrasse" (2003), "Selbstporträt/Identität" (2004), or "Pflanzendialoge" (2006) testify to these activities.

In January 2007, Tim Voss – at that time the Kunstverein’s new artistic director, now (since 2008) the holder of this position jointly with Britta Peters – brought about yet another shift of focus in the institution’s exhibition practice: at the core of the exhibition cycle "Reihe:Ordnung / Series:Order" was the endeavour to represent interventions by contemporary artists and artist groups into themes of relevance to society – for example work, love, money, sex, power, liberty and future (the terms which served as the subtitles of the seven exhibitions realized in the cycle) – not with a selection existing works, but by making these interventions directly experienceable in complex exhibitions.

In 2010, under the direction of Britta Peters and Marie Luise Birkholz and in colaboration wiith Anna Goetz, the focus is on the expansion and contextualization of the exhibition activities with the aid of the books, photos, texts and information to which the public has access in the Kunstverein’s "Magazine". At the same time, through the production of publications of its own with the exhibiting artists, a wide range of synergies are being triggered at the Kunstverein. The artist books published here will become part of our collection, where they are guaranteed use by an interested public. Moreover, with these publications, the exploration of the artistic approach introduced in a given exhibition can be continued in another place and form.

From 2011 to 2013, the Kunstverein was under the curatorial direction of Isabelle Busch and Franziska Solte who attended a more international program. This was reflected, i.a. in her inaugural exhibition "Is This Where It Ends?" by Sunah Choi and Haroon Mirza. However, the connection to local artists was not lost: In the exhibition series „Am Piano" (2012) young artists from Hamburg were invited to develop Cabinet exhibitions. Accompanying each exhibition movie nights took place in the cinema designed by Jesko Fezer.

Anna Sabrina Schmid has been the programme director of the Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof from 2014 until 2016. Under her direction, the Kunstverein’s long-term collaboration with many international artists has led to several solo exhibitions and new productions. The Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof not only hosts exhibitions; it also offers a space where artists can rehearse and work on their productions. Our focus lies on works with conceptual, spatial, and performative approaches, with a special emphasis on elements of sound. Thus, our collaboration with artists like Kasia Fudakowski, Hannah Weinberger, and Ruth Buchanan includes the production of an artist’s record, instead of an exhibition catalogue. Because this has become one of the main features of our programme, a temporary space for audio releases was developed in the gallery together with Nguyen Phuong-Dan. In this large phonographic library with the title Recordings, visitors are invited to explore the material collection of historical and current works recorded on a variety of media.  

The program of Lisa Britzger and Jennifer Smailes who were artistic directors from 2016 until 2018 assumed the Kunstverein as a space which - as part of the system of art - integrated in various social structures. With the means of art the use, benefits and social effects of artistic practices for politics, science or economy were tested. Urgent issues of our presence such as migration, urban planning and the question of future cohabitation as well as everyday and invisible effects of globalization and its consequences were examined in projects that integrated collaborative, entrepreneurial, creative and communicative approaches artistically and reflected these issues back into the social space.

Artistic director 2020-2021
Annette Hans

Artistic directors 2018- 2019
Annette Hans & Rebekka Seubert

Artistic directors 2016-2018
Lisa Britzger, Jennifer Smailes

Artistic director 2014-2016
Anna Sabrina Schmid

Artistic directors 2011-2013
Isabelle Busch, Franziska Solte

Artistic directors 2010-March 2011
Britta Peters, Marie Luise Birkholz

Artistic directors 2007-2009
Britta Peters, Tim Voss

Team 2008
Tim Voss, Britta Peters, Marie Luise Birkholz

Team 2007
Veit Rogge, Tim Voss, Susanne Schröder