cane. The cultural association 20gerHaus celebrates its 15th anniversary on Saturday 2 July. During this time, the association, whose name is also (but not only) derived from the address Bahnhofstraße 20 in Ried, has built a reputation in the art scene and has received numerous awards – including the 2020 State Prize for Culture.
Daniela Wagner-Stillshamer spoke to the 20gerhaus team for advice.
Hints: You are celebrating 15 years of Galerie 20ger Haus on the 2nd of July. How was it at first? What do you want to achieve? Who are the initiators?
Anne Marie Damon: The initiator was Julia Chungrady, who had bought part of the house and wanted to use part of the building for a cultural project. The direction, especially as a gallery, was not clear at first, in the first few years we also presented and organized many courses for children and adults in the art and culture sector. Elisabeth Bernauer, who was also responsible for our drawings for many years, was very involved here. Soon the sculptor Sigrid Köffler won the artistic directorship of the gallery. As a member of the Artists Guild Innviertler, she had so many personal contacts with artists in the region and beyond that it was possible to hold ten exhibitions each year.
Julia Csongrady: The name 20gerhaus was an obvious choice given the title, but it was also joking to give us the name 20gerhaus, which has just become vacant due to the restructuring of the original 20gerhaus in Vienna – today 21erhaus/Belvedere21 and because some of the initiators have Viennese roots.
Besides managing the gallery and displaying contemporary art, what is your interest?
Sigrid Köffler: It was important for us from the beginning to provide the artists with good conditions in all respects. We want to be a place for exchange on cultural issues where you feel comfortable. On the one hand, we want to make the artists of the region visible, but on the other hand, we want to give the regional audience a broader view. We also always wanted to include the peripheral areas of fine arts – photography, architecture, design, crafts – and make them visible.
Who is your audience and who do you want to ideally reach with the art on display?
Kristen Waurink: Ideally, one would like to attract everyone’s interest in art and culture and engage them in the discourse, which is also one of the main challenges. Here we appreciate cooperation with schools and teachers for art education. They visit our showrooms and incorporate them into their lessons.
We try to provide low-threshold access to art. This is why we are also very pleased with our storefront areas, which offer a first glimpse to all passersby.
What is your goal
Herta Gurtner: One of our main interests is to show current contemporary art away from urban centers and to provide young regional talent with an open playing field. That is why we encourage, among other things, collaborations with young graduates of the University of the Arts in Linz.
Cooperation with regional cultural initiatives and participation in national cultural festivals is also important to us. We look forward to national festivals such as the Festival of Regions and the newly created format “OÖ KulturEXPO” to discover Innviertel and its diverse artistic and cultural scene as a venue in the next few years. We will definitely take part in exciting projects.
Looking back, what are the biggest challenges?
Julia Csongrady: At the beginning of the project, the lack of awareness is certainly one of the obstacles that can only be overcome with a constant and high-quality presence. So you need to stay in power without compromise.
Our business changed in 2017 with a new internal structure. Herta Gurtner, “Our Woman in Linz,” brought important impulses to the show. In general, the painting has been expanded, and Kristen, Franz, and Aurink have taken the drawings, the home page and the newsletters with full force. Annemarie Demon is our rock in waves when it comes to accounting and protocols and Renate Schrattenecker creates a bridge to photography and architecture. We are very grateful that we also had the support of our environment by supervising the exhibition during business hours.
On what basis do you choose who will appear with you?
Sigrid Köffler: We set the substantive priorities that we will seek to pursue for a while. Anyone on the team can make suggestions, which we discuss at curatorial meetings and bring together into coherent annual programmes. There are also artists who want to partner with us. Of course we include them in the process.
Herta Gurtner: Our work is voluntary, so the fair – of course also thanks to the subsidies from Reed City, the state, members and sponsors – doesn’t have to follow the logic of a trade fair. That’s why we can also be open to experiences, new art forms and technologies such as performance, installation or video and also new media. In other words, technologies that cannot be acquired in the classical sense and are rarely seen outside of major cities.
You received the Austrian Top Culture Award in 2020. This is an important award that shows that you are recognized nationally. How has your business changed as a result?
Kristen Waurink: The award was very good to all of us, in recognition of the many hours we volunteered for the 20th house. The award did not change our work, but it did contribute to raising national awareness, which does not bother us at all.
What are your expectations for the future?
Annemarie Damon: We keep moving forward and hope that people in the future who, like us, who would like to develop this independent and contemporary gallery with their own commitment, will join us so that 20gerhaus can continue to enrich the region with exciting cultural work.
Franz Waurink: We are now busy preparing for our fifteenth birthday. As a green event, this event places special importance on sustainability, regionalism and resource conservation. So we require climate-friendly travel for our festival. The legendary Bad Rock Blues Band sends us on an exhilarating musical journey with blues and rock and roll. We are looking forward to the many guests, hope the weather is nice and we look forward to hours of fun together.
“Travel aficionado. Certified problem solver. Pop culture guru. Typical writer. Entrepreneur. Coffee trailblazer.”