BAK, basis voor actuele kunst serves as an advocate for contemporary art. It is a venue for contemporary art production, an open platform for creating, presenting and analyzing significant art projects. BAK initiates cooperative projects with artists and other professionals to explore the possibilities and potential of the contemporary arts. BAK stimulates experimentation, the study of contemporary culture, art education and the search for new audiences in order to make the art of our own time, and its developments towards tomorrow, accessible.
BAK, basis voor actuele kunst is a platform dedicated to thinking, researching, producing, presenting, and analyzing contemporary art. In its process of becoming, marking a trajectory from a spontaneous artists’ initiative established in 1989, to today’s contemporary art institute, BAK has served as an advocate for contemporary art. The philosophy of BAK is to make the art of our own time, and its developments towards tomorrow, accessible.
It is the combination of the professional dedication of its people, and a middle-field, flexible operation that makes BAK a distinct place. Our committed team of individuals with different expertise identifies issues for artistic and intellectual analysis, invites art professionals for collaborations, and offers personal involvement and engagement.
The activities of BAK are concentrated in three main areas: research/creative production, presenting, and analyzing.
The area of research and creative production functions both as an extended artist’s studio, and as a space for gathering valuable data and support resources for contemporary art curators, writers, and theorists. BAK initiates partnerships and collaborations with contemporary artists, theorists, writers, curators, and other institutions, who are offered professional support – both in intellectual terms, as well as in relation to production. All the activities of people at BAK, as well as its resources, are then synchronized towards each projects’ needs.
Presentation is a public moment in the development of every project. It can realize itself in various formats accommodating the character of a project. Here BAK functions in the true meaning of its name - basis – as a support structure, flexible enough to sustain diverse activities such as exhibitions, workshops, publications, etc.
In an effort to stimulate discourse on contemporary art, BAK devotes a significant part of its work to the area of intellectual analysis related to its projects, as well as to developments in art and society in general. Various public and semi-public encounters in form of lectures, conversations, symposia, or workshops are being organized, for which BAK attracts a large number of respective practitioners on national and international levels.
BAK provides a basis, which attempts to accommodate various aspects of complex socio-political situations in the contemporary world, and seeks out their artistic re-articulations. One could see BAK as a meeting point for various voices about the everyday; should reality fail to provide enough vision towards the future, BAK tries to create a mental space for examining the potential of art to conceive the world otherwise.
Maria Hlavajova, artistic director
23 February 2003
SuB-K, Stichting Utrechtse Beeldende Kunst - Foundation for Visual Arts in Utrecht, was established in 1989 in response to the need to support the artistic climate of the city of Utrecht. In the beginning, suB-K organized projects in public space, such as ‘Buiten, de Kunst’, ‘1e Salon van Utrechtse Kunstenaars’, and ‘Traject’.
In 1994, suB-K moved to the ground floor of a former music school on Lange Nieuwstraat 2-4 in Utrecht, and the art center BeganeGrond (Ground Floor) was founded.
Between 1994-2000, changing groups of artists programmed exhibitions and other projects. In addition to exhibitions of artists such as Miklos Beyer, Suchan Kinoshita, Deimantas Narkevicius, Joke Robaard, Roland Sohier, Fiona Tan, Gediminas en Nomeda Urbonas, Saskia Olde Wolbers, a series of theoretical and performative encounters titled ‘Avonduren’ (Evening Hours) and ‘Atelierroute’ (Open Studios) were organized on a regular basis.
In 2000, the center and foundation started the transformation into a professional organization for art, artists, other cultural professionals and their audiences. In order to achieve this transition, a new working structure and new ways of operating were adopted. As a result, both artistic and executive directors were installed. At the same time, through a major reconstruction of the premises, the center was able to expand from the ground floor of Lange Nieuwstraat 2 to the entire building at number 4, providing 210 m2 of exhibition space with additional room for offices and library.
The process briefly outlined above reflects an ongoing search for possible models that would ideally accommodate various aspects of the socio-political situation in the contemporary world, and the space contemporary art practices inhabit within it. In the spirit of this evolving process, in 2002 BeganeGrond became BAK, basis voor actuele kunst. In the true meaning of its new name, we hope to offer a productive forum for thinking and working through our contemporaneity.
* The activities of BAK, basis voor actuele kunst have been made possible by financial support from: Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the City Council of Utrecht.
* BAK is part of BK-NU, Beeldende Kunst Netwerk Utrecht