Since 1991, the Ursula Blickle Stiftung has supported innovative contemporary art by German and international artists. In Kraichtal, near Karlsruhe, the independently-funded foundation holds four exhibitions every year. This year, foundation director Ursula Blickle is planning contemporary art exhibitions together with Cristina Ricupero, Katja Schroeder, Mario Kramer and Fabian Schöneich. The foundation is highly respected in the international art scene and is recognized far beyond the borders of Europe. The foundation often presents artists who are making their public debut here. The presentations and the discussions that accompany the exhibitions mean that the foundation also acts as an interface between the art and the interested public, who have free admission to all events.
Gerald Matt, Director of the Kunsthalle Wien:
With four exhibitions per year, the Ursula Blickle Foundation offers more than many of the exhibition halls found in mid-sized towns, not only in quantitative terms, but above all through the contemporaneity of the themes and the quality of the artistic works selected by international curators. A gallery run by the owners themselves, with all the attributes of a private enterprise which does not necessarily make it non-representative has an advantage over public institutions in that it is generally less bureaucratic and both financially and politically more autonomous, which seems to make up for the many smaller infrastructure 'shortcomings.' The gallery offers a stimulating atmosphere to all those involved artistically, a challenge too good to refuse.
Peter Weiermair, Director of the Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Bologna:
International, current art from the USA, South America, Europe, or Japan presented here in rural Germany in Kraichtal. Not only can we see the big names of contemporary art in the metropolises of the world, but also here of all places, in the provinces of Mühltal. The Ursula Blickle Foundation is what it is thanks especially to the institution's benefactor herself, who is active and involved on all levels, expresses both criticism und encouragement, urges hesitant local citizens to join, but can also lash out at them without remorse if she detects resistance or reluctance. She depends on the younger artists and their position, but also expects their encouragement, aware all the while that hers is an ambivalent und tenuous attitude. The Ursula Blickle Foundation holds the balance in this fragile state, yet it is not afraid to take risks and is determined to continue despite disappointments and certainly due to its successes.
Udo Kittelmann, Director of the Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main:
Private art spaces are generally the ones that offer the potential for experimental exhibitions because they are not bound by institutional terms and pressures. An excellent example of one such space is the Ursula Blickle Foundation. Here in isolated Kraichtal, freedom for the sake of art has always been a priority. During the exhibition Die großen Gefühle I was invited to curate an exhibition entitled Joy. At first the real positive connotation of the title seemed too insipid to be the orientation of an exhibition. At the same time, I became more and more aware of this concept's multiple meanings and of the many obscure contexts in which this word appears. For instance, it occurs more and more in the context of violence, for which the adequate aesthetic means of expression continues to be the medium film. Thus, the desire to and craving for torture, destruction, and killing as a form of satisfaction and pleasure became the theme of the exhibition. The focus, however, was not on the perpetrators, but on the fascination and irresistible excitement that an act of violence instills in its audience. For through the desire for cruelty manifested in the voyeurism of the audience, viewers mutate into accomplices, and the representation of the violent act turns to banality. The goal was to make the audience visually and physically aware of its complicity.
What I appreciate most is the vivacious, energy-charged contact with the artists and curators, and their ability to rediscover the spaces in the old mill and to best take advantage of them for their acts. I find getting to know new positions and producing certain works especially for the given situation extremely exciting. In this sense you could say youth is the Foundation's capital. The motivation and involvement of various curators who have worked for me have given rise to artistic positions here in Kraichtal, many of which have years later played a prominent role in the international art scene. I'm always happy when I see works in large exhibitions that were shown here at the Foundation many years before, not that I see myself as a trend scout. If one takes a closer look at the Foundation's program over the last ten years, one notices consistency as well as an overall series of quite heterogeneous exhibitions. This diversity is important to me.
Unlike museums and other institutions, I act as a private person, which has many advantages. The number of visitors is irrelevant to me, although, of course, I always care about audience interest. Moreover, I don't have to submit a balanced program, I can give free rein to the curators I have chosen. Udo Kittelmann, for example, didn't include a single artist in his exhibition Joy, but instead put his program together using films and video clips. In some cases, however, the Foundation does complement the established art scene. Yilmaz Dziewior, for instance, curated an exhibition with Cosima von Bonin, which was developed further and shown later at the Kunstverein in Hamburg. It is not at all uncommon for exhibitions that have been shown here to run at other venues, to be shown at art societies and museums elsewhere. Catalogues, which always accompany our exhibitions, are also often published in cooperation with other institutions. Thus, I do not see my Foundation as competing with other venues, but rather as a kind of supplement that offers support in an area where funds are becoming ever more scarce.
If people are really interested in an exhibition, they will not be put off by having to travel a greater distance to reach the venue. Contemporary art can't always be shown just in big cities. This is one of the greatest changes that has come about in recent years. Allow me to quote Dr. Margrit Brehm: Questioning is no longer concerned merely with the from whence art comes, that is to say with role models for young artists, but also with the where art is going, i.e. the places where art is happening and being perceived. The halfpipe of the suburbs has meanwhile become just as valid a venue for presenting art as the high-tech museum in the overcrowded urban center. This applies just as much to Japan as to Brasilia. Since I' ve lived in São Paulo for an extended period of time,
I can say that while this metropolis has influenced me deeply as has my hometown Vienna I am still convinced that I have also made a considerable contribution here in rural Germany, and I, of course, hope to achieve much more in the future.