ARS BALTICA, Kunsthalle Rostock and Kunsthalle St. Annen in Lübeck hosted the online event Perspektivwechsel (“Change of Perspectives”) on 26 February as the closing event of the joint exhibition in the two art halls.
The event started with a lecture on The Biennial of the Baltic Countries between 1965 to 1989 by Elke Neumann (art historian and curator). Afterwards the initial founder of ARS BALTICA, Björn Engholm (former Minister President of Schleswig-Holstein), and the current director of the cultural initiative, Marcus Hagemann, spoke about the founding idea and future visions of the cultural network ARS BALTICA, which was founded in 1991. Another topic during the conversation was the important role of international cooperation. Engholm pointed out that especially in the current political situation the role of ARS BALTICA is to raise the voice of the arts as culture is a bonding agent and an essential part of the regional identity. In order to form a contrast to the growing social interest in economics, finances and politics, according to Engholm an upswing in culture must be produced. "Culture is the essential stock of our identity" said Marcus Hagemann, who has been active in the cultural scene in many ways in the past and has headed ARS BALTICA since 2013. Hagemann's focus is on cooperation and supporting artists by networking and engaging them into exchange. According to Hagemann, exchange of any kind promotes creativity and advances all participants personally and culturally. In the end, all parties agreed that the counter-narrative to economy and politics is culture, which acts as one of the cornerstones of modern coexistence and must be protected and promoted at all costs.
In the following, the artist Simone Kessler, invited by ARS BALTICA, spoke about her stay at Atelier Josepha and the importance of retreat spaces for artists. Curator Kasia Lorenc reported on the work of Curated Affairs, the exhibitions such as ROSA on the 100th anniversary of the death of Rosa Luxemburg, a 3-part series of exhibitions on the 30th anniversary of the town twinning of Düsseldorf and Warsaw, and the feminist exhibition Beuys & Girls. The mixture of space creation and synergies as well as trusting relationships was emphasized as particularly important by both speakers.
An insight into the work of ARS BALTICA was given by project examples such as CULTURE4CLIMATE and CCI Contact Desk.
The curators Melanie Ohst and Ann-Kristin Jürgensen presented the double exhibition "Change of Perspective" of Kunsthalle St. Annen in Lübeck and the Kunsthalle Rostock that took a joint look at the histories of the houses and the development of their collections from the time of the inner-German division to the present. With their joint exhibition, which took place simultaneously in both museums, the Kunsthalle Lübeck and Kunsthalle Rostock wanted to enable the audience to visit both houses.
During the concluding round Marcus Hagemann, Ann-Britt Mählmann (Director Kunsthalle St. Annen in Lübeck) and Uwe Neumann (Director Kunsthalle Rostock) talked about Baltic Sea Region cooperations between the art halls that have already taken place. Antje-Britt Mählmann gave an example of recent cooperation such as the exhibition of Finnish photographic art from the Art School of fine Arts and Design that was a great success. In Lübeck there was great interest in the theme of Helsinki and the surrounding nature, accordingly there were many visitors. There was interest in the cooperation of the cultural institutions in Lübeck, which promoted and supported the project. The Finnish ambassador was also present at the opening. The project showed that culture can build bridges and bring people together.
Uwe Neumann reported on alarge exhibition project that took place in Rostock in 2013: “Telling the Baltic” which was a support project of the Baltic Sea to build up care and contact to artists and institutions. Many small collaborations and projects of Rostock with the Baltic region followed.
Marcus Hagemann added that the Baltic Sea region, its diverse art and multifaceted projects offer great potential for future cooperations: Every small step and every encounter counts for the further development of new ideas and for networking. He also reports that smaller houses need the support of funders to move forward and to survive. With the right partners, he said, resources can be put to good use. One approach is to provide sanctuaries for creative exchange and expression, currently especially for refugees.
The participants of the meeting all agreed to continue networking with each other in order to find out together which projects, especially with the Baltic Sea region, can be further spun and realized. Marcus Hagemann also suggested a meeting with artists from the region. We are looking forward to future cooperations!