Kleine Humboldt Galerie (KHG) is a student-run initiative curating and presenting bi-annual art exhibitions at Humboldt University. The atrium in the university’s main building has served as an exhibition space since the re-foundation of KHG in 2009. Past exhibitions have dealt with diverse subjects such as educational politics, feminism, the dream of a universal language, cultures of political protest in contemporary art and scientific methods of visualization.
KHG aims to re-establish a tradition of exhibiting at Humboldt Universität, which can be traced back to the university’s founding years. Back then, objects from the royal art collection were transferred to the institution and scientific collections were presented in the hallways. Back then stumbling across a mammoth’s teeth or plaster casts of antique sculptures while walking from lecture to lecture wasn’t uncommon,. By recognizing the role of contemporary art in research and education and presenting it alongside objects from visual culture – mass media, scientific preparations, everyday objects – the epistemic value of images and objects is once again appreciated.
Apart from academic life, the architecture and history of the exhibition space provide additional points of reference for the curatorial work of KHG. Opened in 2009 as a venue for academic events, the Eastern atrium is far from sharing any resemblance with the proverbial White Cube and its prominent architectural features challenge the curators’ creativity. Even the building itself – built in 1749 as the prince’s palace and turned into Berlin’s first university in 1810 – consequently living through different political situations – offers a wide range of historical material for artistic and curatorial discourse while also serving as a backdrop for finding, experimenting with and reflecting new ways of exhibiting in the contemporary world. The installation of works aims to reference the current exhibition’s subject and contributes to conveying its contents. The concept of exhibiting is itself regarded as a scientific instrument: An effective way of establishing and publicising arguments by way of juxtapositioning objects, testing an opinion’s validity and consequently solidifying or discarding it.
Franziska Blume & Zoe Büchtemann