Conception and developement
Situation Kunst is conceptualized to be a place that inspires a concentrated experience of contemporary art and encourages scientific exchange.
In the 1980s, stimulated by his long-standing friendship with Max Imdahl and a deep commitment to the art collections of the Ruhr University of Bochum, the gallery owner Alexander von Berswordt-Wallrabe came up with the idea of denoting space artworks, so called environments, by Maria Nordman, David Rabinowitch and Richard Serra to the art collection of the Ruhr University in order to make them accessible to the public. The concept was then expanded to include a selection of the works by the European artists Gotthard Graubner, Norbert Kricke, Arnulf Rainer and Jan J. Schoonhoven. In common with their admission peers one seperate room was dedicated to each of them. Size, disposal and equipment of the rooms were designed according to the designated works they display. The resulting pavilion-like buildings fit into a compound where art, architecture and nature closely relate to each other.
In 2006, an expansion of the public collection was undertaken, building upon the existing concept of an individual room for each artist. The extension features a room with works by Lee Ufan, light-room installations by Gianni Colombo and François Morellet and corridors with neon objects by Dan Flavin. In addition, site specific outdoor sculptures by Lee Ufan and Richard Serra were included. These are supplemented by a "threshold space" defined through works by Ad Reinhardt, Robert Ryman, Jan J. Schoonhoven and Grace Tong. The expansion was rounded out by supplying a counterpoint room which features ancient art from Africa and Asia.
In the spring of 2010 the video-sound installation “Overground” by Marcellvs L. was installed, thus giving a new audio-visual environment to the permanent exhibition.
Situation Kunst differs from other art museums in many aspects. In addition to its compelling design and integrative approach, Situation Kunst maintains a strong commitment to the public and an emphasis on educational utilization. The permanent exhibition is open to the general public, free of charge, for 24 hours each week and Ruhr University students are offered the opportunity to deal with original artwork in even greater depth as part of their studies.
This combination of hands-on academic education alongside general audience admission determines the range of events, and daily scheduling at Situation Kunst. For example, security guard services during general admission times are carried out by advanced students of the Art History Institute allowing for all staff to be enthusiastic and well informed about the exhibits. Also, there are several enhanced educational areas including two seminar rooms, a library specializing on the core theme of the collection, and a video archive of films on art with an emphasis on 20th and 21st centuries for focused teaching and research. The video library in particular honors the scientific legacy of Max Imdahl, which Situation Kunst preserves in an archive available to experts.
Since the opening of the extension building Situation Kunst has been administered by the Ruhr University and the Foundation Situation Kunst. Through the use of an art curator, who is exclusively responsible for Situation Kunst and collaborations with various institutes of the Ruhr University, it is possible to offer such an ambitious program. In particular, the History of Art Institute uses Situation Kunst regularly for tutorials and seminars, scientific meetings, lectures or interviews with artists.
The events of the university and the foundation frequently have an interdisciplinary approach and are thus implemented in collaboration with other universities, scientific institutions and museums. Particular attention is paid in outside the primary research domains of the Ruhr University, such as African and Asian art. A symposium about the age and authenticity of the origins of ancient art from Africa and Asia organized by the Foundation Situation Kunst in February 2007, attracted natural scientists, art historians, anthropologists and museum curators from all over Europe and the United States. The academic research fields of the Situation Kunst assembled works of art from Asia was done in close cooperation with the Department of East Asian Art History Institute at the Free University of Berlin. Corresponding activities were conducted with the support of the Institute of Archaeological Sciences, the Department of Religious Studies and the Faculty of East Asian Studies at the Ruhr University Bochum.
Since the opening of the extension building of Situation Kunst in 2006 there have been numerous temporary exhibitions and many students have had the opportunity to gain practical experience in museum work during their university studies.
The deliberate synthesis of museum work and artistic evaluation at Situation Kunst have allowed the Ruhr University Bochum to offer an exciting and popular university course Art criticism and curatorial knowledge which started the first time in October 2009.
Situation Kunst originally designed to show presence and to be an ensemble for contemplation once again was being enlarged by a multi-functional building. The newest phase provides additional space for audience-activities such as exhibitions, performances, as well as numerous conferences and congresses. In short, it will allow for scientific and cultural events of all kinds.
This new building, christened Kubus, was created as a vitreous cube emerging out off the ruins of the Weitmar House adjacent to the existing Situation Kunst pavilions.
Kubus also includes staff offices, archives, additional storage and workshop rooms as well as apartments for guest lecturers and visiting artists from around the world. This newest edition to the Situation Kunst ensemble will continue the heritage of catering to academic interests as well as the general public simultaneously.