The tone of this year’s Rundgang, the annual exhibition of student work at the Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig (HGB), is one of protest. Under the title „Jetzt“ (“Now”), from 14-17 February 2019, the students shall refrain from presenting their work in favor of creating a space of collective action to demand better financial and structural conditions.
Explains Luisa Hohlfeld, President of the HGB Student Council:
We want to send a clear signal with this year’s tour. The abandonment of the class presentations as a sign of solidarity is a sacrifice for us, and especially for the diploma students, who usually issue their final [projects] at the end of the winter semester in the school gallery.
During the event, classrooms and studios will remain open, as in previous years, but empty. Statements, however, may be found attached to room entrances as a prelude to possible interactions. Professors and students will also be present, as all are invited to participate in a series of actions and discourses over the four-day event.
A service center will be established in the atrium and an informational sheet listing facts and demands (in English as well) will be available to all visitors during the tour.
Space for dialogue and discussion is also created on the HGB website, where users can post questions, statements and comments during the tour, which will be replied to by members of the HGB, according to an announced schedule.
“The so-called Hochschulfreiheit in its current implementation is an action corset, determined by financial allocations, rules and controls,” says Thomas Locher, Rector of the HGB. “We need sufficient funding, more jobs, enough space and above all dialogue at eye level. Control instruments such as target agreements are a punishment system and are based on quantified criteria that are senseless for a [art] university.”
Competition and efficiency are not the logic by which artistic learning and research can be primarily organized and evaluated.
Art as protest – and protest art – retains high visibility in contemporary society, and its history demonstrates a continually viable platform for fortifying righteousness and forcing conversations. Perhaps lesser known is the notion of invisible or unseen artwork, which can be traced from French artist Klein’s concept of the “Architecture of Air” in the 1950s, to later examples such as Warhol’s “Invisible Sculpture” (1985) or Tom Friedman’s work in the 1990s, such as “1,000 Hours of Staring” and “Untitled (A Curse).”
At stake here, however, is the sense of absence when structures intended to support students of art and art educational institutions collapse.
It is difficult, actually horrible, to imagine a world without art. A temporary taste of such deprivation presented during the Rundgang comes at no small price, especially for its students. Furthermore, the impact of such protest on the public serves as a type of cultural barometer.
When asked why it is especially important for people to visit the Rundgang at HGB this year, PR Spokesperson Meike Giebeler reiterated the imperative: “We need the dialogue and the support of our friends, alumni and partners.”
Want to show your support? Be present during this absence; attend the Rundgang this weekend at the Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig.
HGB Rundgang 2019
Saturday, 16 February: 11:00–22:00 o’clock
Sunday, 17 February 17: 11:00–20:00 o’clock
Talk: „Sächsische Kultur- und Bildungspolitik und ihre Auswirkungen auf Leipziger Kunstinstitutionen“
Roundtable discussion with representatives of Leipzig cultural institutions
Sunday, 17 February, 14:00 o’clock, HGB Festsaal
@ Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst / Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig
Wächterstraße 11, 04107 Leipzig