After a short and chaotic life, Berlin’s Temporäre Kunsthalle died of natural causes on August 31. Katherine Koster assesses the TKH’s ephemeral existence… and its legacy.
“Every city in Germany has a Kunsthalle, except Berlin,” artist and art activist Coco Kühn explained to EXBERLINER, “a building in the middle of the city without a permanent collection, dedicated to showing contemporary art.” This was 2008, and she and Constanze Kleiner had just ‘done it’: given the capital its missing Kunsthalle. And where, of all locations? On the very Schlossplatz where the Palast der Republik had just been reduced to rubble amid a flurry of controversies.
It had taken the doggedness of two young women and the financial support of wealthy entrepreneur Dieter Rosenkranz to convince the Senat to hand over the site for their ambitious scheme. Kühn and Kleiner were granted two years and free rein: the TKH was born.
And so for two years a long, boxy object stuck out amid the Prussian architecture of Museum Island, providing not only the state-run heritage museum complex with a 21st century appendix, but also international and local artists with a vast new exhibition space, the facade of which acted as a white canvas for their creations. Until August 31.
On that day, nine large-scale exhibitions, five small shows and three facade facelifts later, the TKH closed its doors to the public, putting an end to a short and chaotic life mired in disagreements about its purpose and raison d’être – the clashing artistic and business agendas of its very genitors. Yet it had all started as an artist’s/curator’s wet dream come true.