The new Kunsthaus Kloster Gravenhorst is called DA – There.

DA – There – is a place. DA – There – stands for showing. and pointing the way. DA stands for change and movement. DA inspires both artists and visitors. DA is an ideas workshop. All this refers to the historical and architectural significance of the Gravenhorst monastic ensemble and to the production and reception of art.

At the Kunsthaus DA the historical and ecological authenticity of the place is integrated into its use: contemporary art interacts with the old walls. In DA art can be created, experienced and communicated. Artists from the region and from around the world come together with amateurs to produce art together. Exhibitions, workshops and summer studios are an invitation to children, young people and adults to contribute, participate and be inspired. Parties, concerts, readings and theatre performances are a chance to experienced culture at DA.

With guest artists and a grant programme, with ideas workshops and open art projects, DA is run as an experience-oriented communicator of art. DA means art not as a decorative extra but as research, play and critical discourse in a social context. DA, Kunsthaus Kloster Gravenhorst: when art cloisters itself in the thick of things.

Kloster Gravenhorst lies not far from the town of Hörstel, at the idyllic foot of the Teutoburg Forest, surrounded by ditches and meadows and fruit trees, but also easy to reach on the A30. The former Cistercian convent was founded in 1256 by the knight Konrad von Brochterbeck and his wife Amalgardis von Budde. Uniquely for the Westphalian monastic landscape, the complex with its agricultural buildings has survived almost intact. The municipality of Steinfurt took over the listed building within the programme Regionale 2004 links und rechts der Ems, renovating it and converting it into an art centre with the financial support of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

With a cross-genre programme at the interface of art and communication, the Kunsthaus DA provides and unusual space to experience contemporary culture. Exhibitions of present-day light, sound and media art, concerts and guided tours are enjoyable opportunities to contribute, participate and be inspired.

When stories are exchanged for photographs in the markets of Steinfurt, when the family evening meal suddenly takes place as a public event on the street, or when politicians, citizens and bankers literally have their backs scratched, then it can only be art originating from Kloster Gravenhorst. For at the heart of the Kunsthaus is the unique grant programme KunstKommunikation, with which the DA has established a nationwide profile of its own. Art projects by internationally active artists have been carried out within this framework since 2005. They are not only meant for a specific art audience but are also aimed at a wider regional public, which is always a part of the artistic concepts and actions. At the DA, live issues and often polarising themes are the occasion for artistic actions and interventions. Art often happens where it wouldn’t be expected: on the streets, in companies, shops, clubs, railway stations, the countryside … wherever people carry on their lives.

In its idea to have contemporary art move into the former Cistercian convent, the utilisation concept also relates to the nunnery’s original use, as cloisters were always places of education and art. So the programme refers on the one hand to history – but in fact the opposite of cloistered retreat, with its strict rules of faith, is practised at DA. DA is the abbreviation of ‘Denkmal-Atelier’ (‘historical-monument workshop’; in a metaphorical sense also ‘ideas workshop’), and thus points both to the location’s historical significance and its new use as a place for art. Like a pointing finger or an exclamation, DA – There – also stands for taking one’s bearings, asking questions, seeking and finding.

DA stands for an art programme that takes up and fosters the history of a place, while at the same time showing something new and putting it up for discussion. Today the DA, Kunsthaus Kloster Gravenhorst is a place full of history and cultural vitality. DA is contemporary art within old walls: a communicative meeting place for artists, art lovers and everyone who would like to be.

Gerd Andersen,
Director of the DA, Kunsthaus Kloster Gravenhorst