Kunstverein Freiburg was founded in 1827, making it one of the oldest Kunstverein art associations in Germany. Since then, it has established itself as an independent voice within the contemporary art scene. It is committed to contemporary art and encouraging engagement with it. As of 1997, Kunstverein Freiburg holds its exhibitions and events programme in the spacious hall of the former Marienbad swimming pool.
In its exhibitions, Kunstverein Freiburg presents new, internationally relevant or still relatively little-known artistic practices for discussion. Profound social transformations, ideologies and power relations, economic forces, ecological destruction and technological developments all provide a backdrop to contemporary art production, and are reflected within it as much as its own media conditions or institutional framework. Based on the art exhibited, Kunstverein Freiburg initiates dialogues surrounding social issues and creates links to other areas of cultural production in order to enable a critical examination of forms of the present. The Kunstverein sees itself as a place of experiments – a catalyst for discoveries, indeterminacies and questions, not for reassuring confirmations or over-simplified answers. Instead of platforming the established or fulfilling expectations, Kunstverein Freiburg is concerned with querying the supposedly normal, natural and given, and enabling other forms of expression and ways of perception. In the interplay between the autonomy of artistic practices, their societal effects and dependencies, Kunstverein Freiburg aims first and foremost to give space to actions and things that, for starters, oppose the logic of exploitation, formulaic interpretation and the demand for utility.
Since its very beginnings, Kunstverein Freiburg has been founded upon the engagement of its members. They are the heart of the organisation and a prerequisite for all that it does. As part of civil society, Kunstverein Freiburg sees itself as a lively place of exchange, based on a plural society and open to everyone. It opposes all forms of exclusion, discrimination and racism.
“The Idee und Praxis of Kunstvereins” was included into the Federal Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the German UNESCO Commission on March 19, 2021 by decision of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs. Intangible cultural heritage refers to living forms of cultural expression. They are to be preserved by their
respective communities through the support of the States and UNESCO.
The expert committee of the German UNESCO Commission that was responsible for the selection pays tribute in their statement to the important function of Kunstvereins in supporting the public good through their role as practical facilitators of aesthetic and cultural education. Their diversity contributes significantly to the diversity of the art landscape and society. Originally reserved only for the bourgeoisie, today Kunstvereins encourage public participation and bring art into broad segments of society. As a network of urban and modern actors, they participate in and drive the discourse of contemporary art. In doing so, they cultivate an understanding of democracy that is important for the preservation of a vibrant and diverse cultural heritage.”