2015 Type: Archive Matter

The question of what functions visual art can perform in our society is closely linked to the question of how to transmit it. “[We cannot] observe visual art in isolation from its transmission and application”, according to one of the first publications. 1 Art is considered a mediator of political content; its purpose is to educate and it therefore has concrete functions to fulfil rather than merely standing for itself. Art can help explain historical contexts and, in this way “contribute to a more conscious assessment of an individual’s own situation and promote critical and decision-making capabilities in the social context.” 2
In 1977, a working group addressed Gustave Courbet’s painting Die Woge with the goal of “releasing the painting from its current, museum-based isolation and thus making it possible once again for the observer to experience its social relevance and socially critical statement.” 3 For this purpose, a collection of materials and a film were made. In concrete terms, “the film was supposed to be [made] usable for art and social lessons in school and for the museum visitor and provide basic material for further analysis of the topic.” 4
The school and the museum represent two classic places of education for transmitting art. The project Unmittelbare Vergangenheit. Drei Kulturvermittler der 80er Jahre (1999) is about who brings content to a museum. The exhibition is devoted to three people who tried to make subcultural movements visible. Christian Borngräber, Wolfgang Max Faust and Manfred Salzgeber had in common that they “recognised upcoming trends at an early stage; exhibited, supported, promoted and published them enthusiastically and ascribed them not just an enrichment but a necessity, made room for them in cultural life and gave them a history.” 5
In the same year, a seminar held by Carmen Mörsch at the Institut für Kunst im Kontext brought forth the group of female artists Kunstcoop©. Its declared goal: artistic art education and the creation of various points of access to current art for a broader public and the involvement of completely different people in processes of discussion and appropriation. 6 The group was awarded first place by the general assembly with its proposal to realise art education opportunities in order to interest new visitors in the nGbK and its projects.
But realising these art education opportunities turned out to be more difficult than expected, because “the different interests of the exhibition-makers, who are generally more interested in a classical form of transmission, as close as possible to the content they have created, clash with the interests of the educators.” 7 “Nevertheless”, summed up Carmen Mörsch in 2009, “Kunstcoop© also taught us lessons. The group’s work, which accompanied the NGBK programme for two years, to this day forms a reference for those art educators who see their work as a critical and independent practice and therefore distance themselves from instrumentalisation for cultural and educational policies.” 8
Since 2008, the nGbK has had a one-year scholarship for art education which was usually extended by another year in the early years.

In conjunction with the symposium Störungen im Offenen, which brought together reflections on the ten-year anniversary of the scholarship and its object, the transmission of artistic art education, the call for bids and the target group were reinvented. During the symposium, participating educators criticised the appropriation of their knowledge, practices and perspectives by curatorial and artistic practices and their resulting and continued marginalisation. Against this background, there were also voices criticising the grant for artistic art education as another way of promoting artists, and making clear that this is only one of two scholarships in the whole German-speaking region that is expressly aimed at promoting educators (the other is awarded by Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg).

Emancipatory debates about education see it a provision of protected spaces for (un)learning devoted not to the logic of innovation or representation, but more so to post-representative practices (Nora Sternfeld 9 ). Yet a post-representative forms access or practices, including artistic, educative, cultural-analytical or activist approaches, to name but a few. The artistic would be one practice among many in this case. Thus, the renaming from “Scholarship for Artistic Education” into “Outreach Scholarship” represented an extension of the areas, perspectives and access points which it promoted. The Initiators hoped that this renaming would do justice to the critical positions adopted by nGbK with regard to art and culture.


Anna-Lena Wenzel with Anna Bromley, 2015, revised 2020

  1. Funktionen der Bildenden Kunst in unserer Gesellschaft, NGBK, Berlin 1971, p. 5.
  2. Drehbuch und Materialien zum Film: Nur eine Woge, NGBK, Berlin 1977, p. 3.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid., p. 2.
  5. Wagner, Frank: Unmittelbare Vergangenheit – Unterbrochene Karrieren, in: Unmittelbare Vergangenheit – Unterbrochene Karrieren, NGBK, Berlin 1999, pp. 5f.
  6. See Lüth, Nanna: queens of kunstvermittlung, in: Kunstcoop. Künstlerinnen machen Kunstvermittlung, NGBK, Berlin 2002, p. 64.
  7. Baumann, Leonie: Ausstellungen sind Kommunikationsräume, in: Kunstcoop©. Künstlerinnen machen Kunstvermittlung, NGBK, Berlin 2002, p. 10.
  8. Mörsch, Carmen: Educational Einverleibung, oder: Wie die Kunstvermittlung vielleicht von ihrem Hype profitieren könnte. Ein Essay – anlässlich des zehnjährigen Jubiläums von Kunstcoop©, in: 40 Jahre NGBK, Berlin 2009, p. 255.
  9. See Sternfeld, Nora: Museum of Burning Questions. Negotiating with Reality at the 2016 Bergen Assembly, in: 2020, ON-CURATING.org, Issue 46, https://www.on-curating.org/issue-46-reader/museum-of-burning-questions-negotiating-with-reality-at-the-2016-bergen-assembly.html and Nora Sternfeld & Luisa Ziaja: What Comes After the Show? On Post-Representational curating’, in: Barbara Borčić und Saša Nabergoj (Hg.): Dilemmas of Curatorial Practices, World of Art Anthology, Ljubljana, 2012, pp. 62–64.