Once a year, the Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig (HGB) opens its heavy doors to arts enthusiasts and curious viewers alike. It’s their annual student exhibition, otherwise known as the HGB Rundgang.
Seemingly every nook, cranny, stairwell, hallway, and of course classroom, is filled for this four-day event. On vibrant display is student work produced during the last year from all classes of the academy, along with the work of recent diploma recipients from the winter semester.
The pinnacle of the event is the opening reception on Thursday evening. There’s often little more than elbow room for a public eagerly traversing corridors steeped in performances, DJ tables and often thematic beverage stands.
Around midnight, bright lights flicker onto the clanking of empty bottles in a dust of glitter and detritus being swept away. The residual evidence of any decent party.
To get a better sense of the yearly spectacle, I spoke with Joachim Blank, professor of the class for Installation and Spatial Art in the HGB’s Department of Media Art.
Elizabeth Gerdeman: How does the annual Rundgang at HGB compare to those at other art institutions?
Joachim Blank: I think the annual Rundgang is quite similar at all German art academies with a long tradition like the HGB. In former times, it was meant just to open the studio doors after one year of work, intended to show what the students painted and sculptured during the year. Today, students work with various materials, media and formats, and the Rundgang as a public event also defines a format of art presentation.
EG: What role does the Rundgang play for your class – how is it integrated into regular programming?
JB: The Rundgang is one of the major class projects in the winter semesters: I always like to work with students on a collaborative project with a common topic and individual works. Mostly we discuss the question of how a display for the exhibition and the individual artworks can interact. I like the idea of coexistence of collaborational working methods with diversive singularities at the same time. The Rundgang is a perfect platform for presenting methods of learning and teaching in a class, and at the same time it is a chance of going public and giving visibility to outstanding art.
EG: What project will your class present during the Rundgang this year?
JB: This year we invited Leipzig artist Klara Meinhardt to develop a Rundgang project with the class. During the semester, we worked on issues related to appropriation art and cultural appropriation, especially in the field of contemporary art. We discussed works from Dana Schutz, Omer Fast, Ai Weiwei, Zentrum für Politische Schönheit, among others, and also the concept of documenta 14. After some time, Jessica Arseneau, a student from Canada, presented the concept of potlatches – gift-giving rituals practiced by North American Indian peoples of the northwest coast of Canada and the United States. This inspired us to discuss concepts of fervour, communication, social interactions and connections between artists, artworks and collectors as an exchange of values.
We discussed concepts of a gift economy, derived from exchanging ideas through the internet, where values like attention and private data became a currency like money. In the end, the class decided to produce artworks that will be given away on the occasion of the Rundgang for free, since the Rundgang itself has a history of social exchange as well as the selling and auctioning of art. Young artists from the class of Installation and Spatial Art at the HGB won’t take money for their artworks. Any attendee could be the owner of a genuine, authentic artwork – with no strings attached or tricks behind. The individual artworks will be presented as a heap of professional art cases with descriptions of the artworks. The idea is that visitors can apply to receive the artwork of their choice and the artists decide who will be the owner of their works. We call the project “Present Agreement.”
The class for Installation and Spatial Art is located in room 232 at the HGB.
By Elizabeth Gerdeman
Elizabeth Gerdeman is a visual artist from the USA and a lecturer at the Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig.
The annual student exhibit, HGB Rundgang, runs 15-18 February. Admission is free.
Opening: Thursday, 15 February 2018, 6 PM
Welcome: Thomas Locher, Rector
Performance by Snow (SeungLok Paik)
Thursday, 15 Feb, 6 PM – 12 AM
Friday, 16 Feb, 11 AM – 10 PM
Saturday, 17 Feb, 11 AM – 10 PM
Sunday, 18 Feb, 11 AM – 8 PM
The Diploma Exhibition is open through 10 March 2018.
Academy of Fine Arts / Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst
Cover shot: Public domain photo, Gratisography.com
Note: Use of the HGB photos is only permitted for HGB Leipzig and events of HGB Leipzig and is free of charge. The shape is in no way to change. The caption is to include the copyright and copyrights of works (as long as available) artist, title, year, technique and courtesy.