Extra City is a Kunsthal that finds inspiration in the city for depicting different visions of our future, by encouraging new links between contemporary (inter)national art and artists, researchers, and citizens.
Extra City departs from the city and connects back to it. We focus on urban reality in all its facets as central to the challenges of the 21st century. Extra City wants to scrutinize it: our programme reveals underexposed opportunities and conflicts and looks for aesthetic or socio-political seams in the urban fabric; it nourishes new imaginations and encourages artistic research and debate about the city. We want to make a difference to our environment in lots of ways, which is why we always work in conjunction with other (supra)local forces, artistic and non-artistic. Our programme is as multi-layered and changeable as the urban issues: varied, sometimes very sharp, but never too fast. Extra City creates extra thinking and breathing space in the city, not as an isolated comfort zone, but as an open area where a society in transition is reflected upon across borders.
Extra City works with art that breathes the spirit of our time. It appeals to us because it likes to dig deeper and slower and to enter into probing dialogue with the reality that lies beyond the art world. The art Extra City presents or commissions is often complex and challenging, but in its concern for the city, is open for any curious visitor. Extra City is looking for the same urban involvement in its artists, researchers, and curators. We offer them a creative space and the city, for daring experiments with exhibitions, debates, and collaborations. With its artists, Extra City wants to stimulate, inspire, and confront. We offer artists a framework in which their work is displayed in optimal conditions and is interpreted and discussed in both a local and international environment.
Extra City is responsible for the public understanding of contemporary art. For us, the public is as important as the artists. We see our visitors as a rich and diverse collection of knowledge and experience. Since people make the city, Extra City wants to be the spot where people feel welcome, a place abuzz with meaningful contact between citizens and artists, laypersons and connoisseurs. Our space in Antwerp is a hub for (inter)national, intercultural, and interdisciplinary collaborations that through art contribute to the concept of a society in transition. All the exhibitions are free to visit. We are creating a context in which everyone is empowered with the necessary tools to make oneself familiar with an artistic work, even if it seems less accessible. Extra City ‘reveals’ art, and contributes to a broader public platform for artistic reflection and imagination.
Extra City Kunsthal was founded in 2004 by Wim Peeters, and initially located in a grain silo in the Antwerp harbour area. In 2006, Anselm Franke was appointed artistic director and the institution moved to a former industrial space in Antwerp North. From 2011 till 2015, Mihnea Mircan served as Extra City’s artistic director. The Kunsthal inaugurated in September 2013 its new venue in Antwerpen-Berchem. A former industrial launderette, the building accommodates a wider range of functions, such as artist studios, a bar and a cinema space, and hosts the offices of organizations such as Antwerp Art, Platform 0090, Gagarin and Kunst/Werk.
Extra City updated its mission and vision, and renewed its structure, a process of repositioning that begun in 2016. From September 2016 onwards, director Adinda Van Geystelen coordinates the institution. Antonia Alampi (IT), iLiana Fokianaki (GR) and Michiel Vandevelde (BE) form the artistic team, which, on the basis of the new mission, will over the next three years (from 2017 until 2019) create the framework for the exhibitions and public programmes together with Extra City’s staff. They have been chosen for their varied range of experiences and their shared interest in engaging with the city’s social texture. Together they will encourage new links between contemporary art, artists, researchers, and inhabitants of the city.
Extra City is committed to challenging existing organizational models; hence its own form is a collective model in the making. The artistic team will also engage in rethinking and questioning the present role of the ‘kunsthal’, in artistic, organisational and social terms.