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Project Outline

From August 26 to September 6, 2009, the festival for international contemporary art, subvision. kunst. festival. off., fathomed artistic strategies beyond the established art business. Artists’ initiatives from around the world presented their artistic work and their unique art presentation and mediation forms that manoeuvre outside established institutions and disregard commercial exploitability to a broad audience. On the invitation of curator Brigitte Kölle and artistic director Martin Köttering, more than 30 artists’ groups, independent project spaces and off spaces from more than 20 countries gathered in Hamburg to create a tension-filled and varied presentation platform with exhibitions, artist’s talks, performances, concerts, readings, and video screenings. A temporary exhibition architecture made of freight containers and scaffoldings formed the unusual framework for an unconventional endeavour. The design of the yet undeveloped Strandkai in HafenCity was oriented toward urban models and cited them, not without irony. More >>

Festival Pictures


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In spring 2010, a comprehensive, illustrated catalogue will be published, documenting the festival events, the works created on site and the unique atmosphere at Strandkai. Students of the Hochschule für bildende Künste (HFBK) Hamburg with a main focus on graphics/typography/photography substantially contribute to its realisation – one good reason to look forward to this extraordinary product. More >>

Archive of artists’ initiatives worldwide

During their researching artist’s initiatives, the subvision curators collected more than 400 links to artist-run spaces, archives, nomadic projects, blogs and networks whose focus is on cultural strategies alongside established institutions and beyond commercial endeavours. This linklist is - as far as we know - the first to list all these initiatives. More >>

(Dis)comfort (Im)materiality

Contribiution by Christina Ruppert Marcos Ramirez Erre, director and founder of the artist-run space Estación, Tijuana, and the architect he invited, Sebastian Mariscal, stood up to provocative questioning within the frame of the first artists’ talk of the subvision academy. The artists’ collectives Barbur and Darom presented their approaches and gave an account of the difficulties involved in producing contemporary art in Israel. Both talks revolved around the question related to what extent the category “off” is important for the artistic practice of these artist-run spaces.  More >>

In the final result you are products – but would like to be sums

Contribution by Olaf Bargheer Prior to the start of the “HafenCity bleibt!” round in the Baltic Raw Tower, stormy weather approached from St. Pauli over the Strandkai. One could regard this, if so inclined, metaphorically. Two hours later, one was indeed smarter, and an approach, a commitment to or a chance for a more satisfactory urban development in Hamburg did not materialise – as expected. More >>

In, on and between the containers

Contribution by Jennifer Smailes on the indispensable disruption of the structure. It is often not easy for the festival architecture planned by the Architekturwerkstatt Hamburg, for it was frequently criticised as “perhaps a bit too platitudinous”, as “maritime” and “not especially new” because it already existed at Art Basel Miami (, as “too dominant vis-à-vis the art” (, as reminiscent of an “artists’ petting zoo” (Jan Holtmann, noroomgallery) or a type case for particularly rare specimens of the art world. More >>

Onepointfivemillion to fifty

Contribution by Olaf Bargheer Onepointfivemillion to fifty – that , says Harald Stazol, is about the relation of his readers in 1999 to 2009. At subvision, Stazol spends his time attempting to challenge Olof Olsson’s role as the best-dressed artist and, together with other editors, publish Jan Holtmann’s “Harbour Mass” magazine (“Harbour Mass”, a somewhat hackneyed yet still valid phonological reference). subvision’s in-house breviary by noroomgallery is printed on thin packing paper and sold, wrapped around freshly backed bread, for three euros to festival visitors. More >>

Pimp my CV

Contribution by Ele Jansen One can at least say that an artist is foremost a show-off. And as such, he is dependent on an audience that is as large as possible. But what if attention doesn’t work? When the valued audience is distracted by mega-capitalist pop ready to be consumed? That’s when art takes to the weapons of the prevailing economic system and professionally vies for public attention. The artist is then in good company with marketing and PR experts who, in turn, love to grasp themselves as artists. Only they earn a lot more. More >>

We are not off

Statement by Chto delat In light of the developing situation around the subvision project in Hamburg, we – Chto delat platform - find it necessary to make following statement with regard to our participation. Only a few months before the festival opened, we - and many other participants - received private letters warning us that the festival is a product and instrument of neo-liberal hegemony and a means of advertising the creative potential of Hamburg’s gentrified HafenCity. We were also told that subvision had taken money out of funding usually given to local initiatives, money that was now being used to brand Hamburg as a center of the “creative industries”. Of course, we do not know enough about Hamburg, so it has been hard to find out what is really going on. The letters we received contained a great deal of contradictory information and personal detail, but their accusations were clearly well-founded. See on the case here: Website “art, money and real estate”, Website “Wir sind woanders”, TAZ Article. Nevertheless, we have decided to participate in subvision. Why? More >>

Lost and Found

Contribution by Olaf Bargheer An Apple DVI adapter is the simplest tool to make artists happy. It’s something one should always have in one’s bag, along with a pack of cable straps and a roll of gaffer tape. A digital mirror-reflex camera belongs to the simplest but also most unthankful basic pieces of equipment of a blogger. It’s always around one’s shoulders during a festival. But it is always readily borrowed by press assistants, student assistants and artists to quickly shoot a photo spread of a performance or a panel discussion. The camera is then returned with a full memory card, empty battery or not at all. By the way: A festival entrance container is not the appropriate place to store a camera in a supposedly secure way. More >>

Barter Trade Between Unequal Parties

Contribution by Ele Jansen Ever since Richard Florida’s notion that a vibrating “creative class” decisively contributes to the attractiveness of an economic region, city marketers love to refer to “their creative workers”. But it is often forgotten that a distinctive creative scene is fed by an active off scene comprised of young artists less interested in the mainstream and instead intervening with alternative approaches – eagerly consumed by the masses. Hamburg is such as city offering glamour, a bit of grunge, a lot of underbelly, and a scene. More >>


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