Abenteuer Museum (The museum as an adventure)

The garbage bag in contemporary art - children as disseminators

Visitors to Matias Faldbakken’s exhibition THAT DEATH OF WHICH ONE DOES NOT DIE encounter drawings that were quickly made on grey garbage bags, dust from emptied fire extinguishers on the floor and glaring work light. It is not simple art, as Faldbakken – like many contemporary artists – makes use of his knowledge of the exhibition space, of its rules and breaches. With this in mind, at the beginning of the three-day project “Abenteuer Museum” (The Museum as an Adventure) held over the autumn holidays in October 2010, a group of children from the Spielhaus Weidestraße were taught the rules of what a “normal” exhibition is like so that deviations from the norm could be made apparent in a second step.

Many of the participants in the holiday programme came to the Kunsthalle Fridericianum with the teacher Petra Meyer for the second time, and some even for the third time. As a result, they had a good knowledge of contemporary art. They knew that in this kind of art the concept is important and that everyday objects can be turned into artworks. Furthermore, they knew how to look closely at artworks, to form their own opinion and to discuss their views with other children.

The first morning began with the task of observing a “classically” hung group exhibition. What does the exhibition look like? What materials were used? What kind of art is it? What do the light, labels, floor and windows look like? Subsequently, the pupils went with the art educator Sandra Ortmann to view the exhibition at the Kunsthalle with a keen eye. In the afternoon, the children focused on unfolding their own creativity. They developed symbols and signs and put them on garbage bags; they drew enlarged surface structures and tried out mirror writing. The children were provided with materials used in the artist’s works and thus could understand more easily how the artists worked. The haptic experience and the unaccustomed surfaces gave them immediate access to the art beyond language.

The exhibition BOTH ENDS devoted to the work of Monica Bonvicini enabled the children to deal with the subjects of architecture, power and work. What do construction workers do? How do they dress? What do we know about buildings? The children made protective clothing out of coloured adhesive tape, cardboard and garbage bags, and prepared a small exhibition of objects and pictures. On Saturday and Sunday, they were invited to take their parents and friends to the exhibition free of charge and to present their work from “Abenteuer Museum”. They showed their art and took their guests on a tour of the exhibitions in the Kunsthalle.

Summer holidays 2010

Within the framework of the summer holiday programme of the Spielhaus Weidestraße, a group of children visited the Kunsthalle Fridericianum and became an active component of the “inhabited sculpture” of the d.i.v.o. Institute. They talked with the artist Mark Divo, met his dog Motoracek and created collages from pages of magazines, which they hung in the exhibition space.

Easter holidays 2010

“The artist Thomas Zipp threw cigarette butts on the floor and left them there. He wants it to look a little dirty and like a mental hospital. That is his art!”, an eight-year-old boy explained to his parents as they viewed the exhibition. The small group walked slowly through the exhibition at the Kunsthalle Fridericianum and the children explained what they had discovered and learned there.

These tours for friends and parents rounded off the Easter holiday programme “Abenteuer Museum”, which was devoted to contemporary art in the exhibition (WHITE REFORMATION CO-OP) MENS SANA IN CORPORE SANO. Fifteen children from the Spielhaus Weidestraße, an open facility for the extracurricular education of children run by the Youth Welfare Office, explored the art of Thomas Zipp in April 2010 and prepared their own little exhibition. They invented new names for artworks, looked at themselves in a distorting mirror, solved detective tasks, played “I spy with my little eye” and drew portraits.

Under the educational supervision of Petra Meyer (Spielhaus Weidestraße) and Sandra Ortmann (Kunsthalle Fridericianum), each child developed his or her own miniature exhibition, and the different exhibitions were joined together into one installation. The aim was to arouse the children’s interest in contemporary art, to enable them to engage in a creative work process using exciting materials, and to allow them to have fun and discuss their work with one another. With playful procedures, an attempt was made to turn the exhibition space into a children’s space.

The project, a cooperative endeavour between the Kunsthalle Fridericianum, the Kassel cultural affairs office and the Spielhaus Weidestraße, was part of the Ruhr.2010 - European Capital of Culture project.


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