Kunsthalle Detroit sheds light on a once-vacant building

arts / Article

November 29, 2011 by vmiller


Kunsthalle is a word that emerged from German-speaking regions during feudal times for a facility that mounts temporary art exhibitions. Many of us here stateside in the 21st century refer to these establishments as galleries. Nevertheless, it was more then just the interesting name Kunsthalle Detroit that piqued my curiosity. My heart did a little somersault when I first learned of the space that is meant to support and foster multimedia and light-based art from a roster of world-renowned artists. The very ambitious Kunsthalle Detroit was founded in 2010 as a non-profit organization and educational institution. It hopes to serve local and international audiences by hosting workshops, scholarship opportunities and presenting a collection of the highest magnitude. Kunsthalle Detroit is located across from the Architectural Salvage Warehouse on the northwest edge of Woodbridge. Kunsthalle founders restored the nearly collapsed building that used to belong to Comerica Bank and now believe that “instead of financial services, the building will now provide a cultural currency for the future of Detroit.” With a website that leaves much to the imagination and a lot of hype, I could barely control my excitement when the gallery announced its second exhibition to open this month.

On the particularly cold, blustery night of Nov. 18th, Kunsthalle Detroit hosted the opening of its second show, titled “Light Fiction.” Featuring six contemporary artists working with the phenomenological effects of light, the chill from the inclement weather seemed to follow me through the propped-open door of the gallery. The initial room was aglow with a video installation projected across the room by Polish artist Tim White-Sobieski. On one side of the room, a pulsating, glowing nebula and on the opposite, ethereal images of a woman spilling coffee and passing through time are set to a barely noticeable soundtrack by Brian Eno. The video is surrounded by a constantly changing array of converging colors, lines and shapes. The overwhelming installation was made even more so by the overall experience of the Kunsthalle, the cold, the desolate neighborhood, the quietness of the room. The gallery has the feeling that one can only experience in Detroit, like you have stumbled upon a treasure. Organized chaos and light and one side of the room with the pulsing nebula as a comfort on the other. I would suggest that anyone reading this visit the space and draw their own conclusions. “Light Fiction” will run until Feb. 28, 2012. After Dec. 8, the gallery will be open for public on Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m. with admission $5 and at other times by appointment.


Located at 5001 Grand River Ave., Detroit; 313-879-0897.

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