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base camp2. Young Art from Europe

Opening: 27.04.2006
Duration: 28.04 - 18.06.2006
Curator: Valerio Dehò

base Camp

The idea of a ‘base camp’ for young artists was developed in view of the fact that they all reach a certain point at which they have to leave university and enter society. For these young people who start seeking out their own way of expressing and proving themselves, whatever once made sense with regard to their relationships to teachers or the care they received from adults gradually loses its meaning. According to the well-known definition by Joseph Conrad, there is a ‘shadow line’ that has to be crossed to enter the world of adults. The world of art is vast, however, and one can easily lose one’s way. Therefore, it is important to know the right path and to move in the best direction. And often, the decision one makes when approaching the art system for the very first time can be decisive.

A base camp is a starting point, but it is also the end of the long preparation phase that precedes the experience of ascendancy to the peak that needs to be reached. For that matter, we attach great importance to school and education. After all, whoever wants to participate in the ‘base camp’ ought to have already passed quite a number of exams and be prepared to confront art directly and personally. These young people stand alone with their own future ahead of them.   

Experience has shown that teachers are the ones who take most pride in students who have come all the way to this point. Kunst Meran is an exhibition place with a double value: as a starting point and an arrival point. It has a qualifying contest and final contest. The spirit of ‘base camp’ is marked by the willingness of the artists to recognize their own abilities and limitations.

Hence, this exhibition is an examination, but also a distinction. In a certain way, it is the first moment of an adventure that will recur again and again. Whenever one takes stock, one has to decide what to invest in the future. ‘Base camp’ is an opportunity to deal with the work that takes place inside art academies, but also with the work that is done on a personal level. A stocktaking. Not merely an opportunity to exhibit. And no statistical survey, either.

We want to give young artists who have ideas and abilities an opportunity to present their works. Those who have already proven themselves to a certain extent, but are still bound for a personal, individual journey during which professors and institutions will gradually disappear over the horizon. An attempt will also be made to confront exceptional European experiences with each other. But, obviously, this selection of art academies and young artists can only be a fraction of what Europe and the world have to offer.

That, too, is an important precondition. The number of students who opt for art academies is continuously rising. Surely, that is because the notion of art is constantly being expanded and now borders on spectacles and communication. But why is that so?

It is mainly because we have to keep looking around to pick up whatever traditions can still offer us, but the full potential of the future is just as important as the past.

Thus, we keep moving ahead, trying out new techniques and languages, developing forms of art that touch on new elements and often meet with a lack of public appreciation. But young artists know that such experiences are necessary to enter the world of art, or at least try to. ‘base camp’ is the last minute of reflection before the ascendancy begins. The results of such undertakings are never known, but the preparations are vital: they mean handling things in the best possible way and yet putting knowledge and perfection at risk.

For us at Kunst Meran, this is a special exhibition that stands out from all the others. We have always seen it as our responsibility to create connections between European cultures, institutions, and artists. We want to create a form of dialogue on working and teaching methods between the art academies in Münster, Sassari, Newport, and Vienna by giving them an opportunity to get together and exchange experience. ‘Base camp’ is an art exhibition, but also a meeting that brings young artists from all over Europe together in a joint project for a full week.

With this biannual initiative that is now taking place for the second time, we want to contribute to developing a contemporary expression in art and place trust in young ideas and incentives, as we always do.

Thus, this project gradually takes on a clearer and unmistakable profile as it succeeds in closing ties between the Alto Adige region and other realities where synergies and dialogues should be endeavored. Young artists from Merano can take part in this event. That also goes to show how particular we are about not losing touch with our own surroundings and our cultural reality. With ‘base camp’, we would like to open a window to the future.