Kunst im Untergrund. 60 Jahre Art in the Underground. 60 years

Presentation of submissions to the 2018 competition and anniversary exhibition

5 August–8 September 2018
Opening: 4 August 2018


station urbaner kulturen, Auerbacher Ring 41, 12619 Berlin (Entrance: Kastanienboulevard, next to Lebenshilfe e.V.)

Project group Kunst im Untergrund

Feben Amara, Jochen Becker, Eva Hertzsch, Constanze Musterer, Adam Page


Christian Hanussek

“Kunst im Untergrund” celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, with a new edition of the public art event launched in 1958 on the theme of “Posters for Peace” at the U-Bahnhof Alexanderplatz [underground station] in what was then the GDR. Since 1992, the annual international art competition has been organized by the nGbK (formerly NGBK).

The anniversary exhibition at the station urbaner kulturen in Hellersdorf turns the spotlight on the 60-year history of “Kunst im Untergrund,” particularly the years before the political turnaround of 1989/90. Likewise on display are all of this year’s competition entries. Juxtaposing the public art event’s past and present in this way vividly brings to light the continuities and breaks in artistic positions and their implementation.

The History
In the early years after 1958, the production of posters for the underground station walls behind the tracks was regulated by the East German state. Subsequent shifts both in subject matter and style attest artists’ endeavors to gradually transform the U-Bahnhof Alexanderplatz from a platform for propaganda into one for artistic positions on socially relevant issues. In 1991 the working group “Kunst statt Werbung“ [Art instead of Advertising] was founded. In 1993 the nGbK realized the group exhibition “Hund ist extra” in the U-Bahnhof Alexanderplatz. Until 2008 the annual exhibition and art actions were shown both behind the tracks and on the central platform of the U2 underground line.

Once the BVG [transport authority] sold all its underground station billboards to a advertising company, the Alexanderplatz platform was lost to art and artists. The competition duly changed: exhibition areas were sought now throughout the entire underground network—and no longer solely underground—while the permissible project format was broadened to encompass art of a more strongly conceptual or interventionist nature. In 2014 the station urbaner kulturen in Berlin-Hellersdorf was secured as a permanent venue where artists can continue to confront the general public with sociopolitical and aesthetic questions.

2018: Plakat politisch machen [Posters made political]
The focus of this year’s competition is the connection between the outlying district of Berlin-Hellersdorf and the Alexanderplatz—the latter being an emblem of the urban downtown hub as well as the original competition venue. Under the motto “Recht auf Stadt” [Right to the City], artistic projects examine the relationship between urban policy and civic participation, and ask: What is the city? Who does it belong to?
Selected Artists 2018: Stephan Kurr, mark, Mio Okido, Felix Pestemer und GloReiche Nachbarschaft, Lars Preisser (from the open competition) and Sven Johne, Katharina Sieverding (from the “Kooperative Verfahren”)

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