The Portikus is an exhibitions space that is associated with the Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main. A production site rather than a traditional gallery, it is an institution willing to redefine its basic parameters with every new project. Since the late 1980s, some 160 exhibitions and innumerable other events have been staged there, and with each project the space has changed. Sometimes it is a factory, sometimes a kitchen or a stage for gatherings and performances. Sometimes it is a classical white museum space, sometimes a cinema, a green house or a swimming pool. How can one portray an institution like this?
For many years now, Helke Bayrle—a film maker based in Frankfurt am Main—has documented the activities of the Portikus. The result is a unique collection of artist portraits. Portikus Under Construction presents the last decade, edited backstage material that the viewer of the finished exhibitions never sees. Some of the artists really like talking about what they do and about the significance of what they present, others prefer to simply work with the installation team and the curator. Helke Bayrle's unique material is very large and represents an important archive of contemporary exhibition making. These three discs present an edited version of the artist portraits. They give us a glimpse of each artist's work at the Portikus, and at the same time they offer a unique behind the scenes view of the activities at one of Europe's most lively experimental art institutions.
3 DVDs with booklet: 36 pp., 13 b / w ill. DVD I: 2001–03, 19 videos, 80 min DVD II: 2004–06, 21 videos, 94 min DVD III: 2007–08, 13 videos, 62 min Picture: PAL, 4:3, color
Daniel Birnbaum is a Swedish art critic, theoretician, and curator. He was the director of the Museum of Modern Art (Moderna Museet) in Stockholm from 2010 to 2018, and currently directs the VR company, Acute Art.