Laden für Nichts presents Laden für Nichts
In 1998, Uwe-Karsten Günther founded Laden für Nichts in Leipzig. Since then, he has organised numerous projects in various spaces beyond the bounds of established art institutions.
2003 saw the dawning of a new era as Uwe-Karsten Günther moved shop as it were, from Bachstrasse near the Leipzig city centre. Together with media artist and architect Alexander Pointinger, he constructed the wooden replica of the original shop space. This both technically as well as logistically elaborate project sought to transfer Laden für Nichts' seminal milieu, implanting it as a social event in different structures within the art context. During the last year, the wooden replica (titled "1:1 Konstruktion") - residing within other exhibition spaces including Galerie Plattform, Berlin and Kunstraum B/2, Leipzig - was used to host several exhibitions and events. Here, "1:1 Konstruktion" functioned as an adaptable exhibition space inextricably linked to the art scene in Leipzig. How compatible Laden für Nichts is with the art scene in other cities shall be tested this summer when the replica will be exported to Union in London. Here, an exchange between positions from Leipzig and London is planned.
While the original Laden embodies in an exemplary fashion an approach to art-making fuelled by obstinacy and scepticism on the one hand, and pure idealism on the other, (indeed, fundamental driving forces of art) by launching experimental and innovative projects oblivious to current demands and consensus of the art market, the replica serves to hoist the project out of the "off" domain and the cultural underground. Isolating, transferring or exporting the setting of Laden für Nichts, serves to exemplify the vital and social aspects of this living sculpture.
Usually, life-size replicas of existing architectural spaces ignite vigorous debates about the authenticity of the original and the artificiality of the copy. In such discourses, thesis and antithesis are known to interlock perfectly. On the one hand, the replica can be perceived as an opportunity of preserving - via commercialisation - the original, while on the other, offering a context within which to examine the conditions and forces driving the act of replicating itself. So too, the life-size replica of an off-gallery such as Laden für Nichts investigates similar concerns. Which subject-matters does the replica communicate, and which intents ultimately prevail when the model is put to use? Is it even possible to export an entire cultural setting as a social sculpture at all, and to link it with the local conditions at work in other places? After its replication, will Laden für Nichts remain alive, or will it rather be absorbed - as little more than a pleasant exhibit - by the insatiable art world as a representative of precisely the insatiable world of art? When Uwe-Karsten Günther goes on tour with Laden für Nichts, exhibiting it in a variety of different institutions, he may suddenly find himself moving within contexts more powerful than his own. Indeed, entering a new context entails the risk of positive - or negative - criticism. However, this also elicits the transformative effect of free exchange, Uwe-Karsten Günther's primary intent. As Laden für Nichts is inextricably linked to a vivacious scene that carries the project and constantly instils it with new life, it seems unlikely that it will be historicized and locked into more static parameters of reception. Yet, one may justifiably ask as to what Laden für Nichts ultimately re-presents once it goes on tour: a life-size model of alternative exhibition practice on the verge to poverty, or rather an innovative structure based on collaborations and varying relationships with art institutions and the free economy.
Meanwhile, Laden für Nichts has evolved into a small enterprise, consuming all the time and energy of its impresario. Exhibition projects and club evenings need to be organised, the touring artists need to be initiated into the collaborative effort and routine of installing and dismantling the 1:1 Konstruktion flat-pack, as well as the alternating shows themselves. While the Leipzig cooperative "Othellos Erben" (Othello's Heirs) are busy transforming the gallery into an old canteen (yet again, a life-size replica, including real meals), the following artist is already planning the space's subsequent transformation back into a classical white cube. The inherent convertibility of the project as a whole also demands of its organiser open-mindedness and adaptability, which is why Uwe-Karsten Günther only grudgingly accepts being referred to as a gallerist or curator. Laden für Nichts is his artwork and he perceives the exhibitions as collaborations with fellow artists. Looking back over the past years since the Laden's founding, this exchange is known to culminate in unique social events, an overall achievement which deserves to be embraced and celebrated.