Kästrich – an independent Forum for art. With a report on Independent Art Circuits.

This bi-lingual book is a retrospective of the nine year forum for art called Kästrich. The forum was founded in 1990 in Mainz. In a former tobacco store in the part of town called Kästrich, more than 30 exhibitions with more than 70 participating artists were shown until its closure in 2000. The program focussed on site specific work and works using sound. Kästrich established an open place, a forum that operated on the contrary side of the closed areas of conventional art institutions.

Also, the name Kästrich gained meaning. The name of this part of town derives from the location of the ancient camp of roman legions (castrum). Until the second part of the nineteenth century, the street called Kästrich was one of the last streets behind the city wall. In this sense, the name Kastrich took on new meaning. It meant on the one hand that art is always reflecting existing borders and investigating how to extend these limits. On the other hand, it meant that art may take a position in everyday life and that through art conceptions and perceptions of reality can be discussed.

Based on the unselfish installation of a space, its administrative resources and working attitude of exchange between artists, Kästrich formed a platform that was independent from the art market, art policy and art theory.

In the present time, art and the presentation of art are dominated by institutions that emphasize theoretical approach, lead by theoreticians who are directed by material motives, whereby each part involved aims to extend and justify his personal position. Within its possibilities, Kästrich proposed a contrary framework.

The book is introduced by a preface from Paul Panhuysen (Het Apollohuis), describing the main motives of his own work which were of great importance to the foundation of Kästrich. One conclusion is that there are two completely diverse segments of development in art in the 20th century. The framework of Kästrich showed art that has a critical, analytical and distant point of view on society as well as the social and economic conditions of present time: an art that develops propositions and concepts, new outlooks to be discussed in a fast changing world. This type of art investigates and forms systems of order that are questioning, changing, and extending our ideas about reality. 

During the work on this book, which intended to become a catalogue about the ten years of Kästrich, it became clear to extend the book so other artists, who themselves were founders of independent platforms for art, should be invited to write about their work in this field. The result is a report on independent art circuits, which consists of articles on Experimental Intermedia Foundation (Arthur Stidfole, Phill Niblock), Giannozzo (Rolf Langebartels) and Het Apollohuis (Paul Panhuysen). It concludes with the transcript of a conversation of the publisher with Roland Siegrist about the institutions mentioned, the so-called Halle in Mainz, and Kästrich.

This report about platforms that were founded by artists themselves could as well be entitled “What are we doing here?” This title describes the attitude of those artists who are reflecting reality of life—works of art that do not end in itself, but rather works that are a way of examination and analysis of reality. It also defines the endeavor of artists who refuse to accept everything as given circumstances, but who strive to reach new results through investigation and analysis.

Publisher Harald Kubiczak
Order-no. CAB–001–09 · ISBN 978–3–00–027615–6
Authors: Harald Kubiczak, Peter Krawietz, Rolf Langebartels, Phill Niblock, Paul Panhuysen, Roland Siegrist and Arthur Stidfole
Size 125 x 200 mm, 208 pages, 367 images, 14.– Euros plus shipment