The History OSTRALE


"OSTRALE exceeds mere geographic or political and historical destiny, it is much rather a magical space, shaped by worldfantasy and – reality.

The ideology of OSTRALE defends art as a medium of communication which can always be lacking words as mode of exchange. It is a sensual, empirical, as well as a revolting rendering and reflection on our addiction to words, at the same time it is a stimulus to act within different ideas and systems of logic.

Art is meant to highlight that it is impossible to reduce the complex spheres of knowledge to one single explanation, question, topic or to limit it to one single paradigm.

OSTRALE is meant to act as a base for an open culture scape - particularly in the realm of contemporary fine arts.

Culture is the basis on which we discuss our lives and identities. If we want to create a European Identity, a common European civic awareness and through this a global consciousness we need independent art and culture industries that can articulate openly and clearly. We have to trust the power of art and culture as it covers all thinkable and unimaginable spheres of our lives.

If we exploit art and culture too much and subordinate them to other aims, we deprive them of their deep lying power of conviction. OSTRALE represents the ghostly and humorous play of power structures and ideologies, and of "value" in the arts."

Andrea Hilger, Director and initiator of OSTRALE

OSTRALE - Documenta of the East - A film by Kay Kaul

Art as Resource

It is the idea and the aim of the OSTRALE to establish art as the property and resource pool of a modern society as well to organize and use its innovative power economically and socially on a regional and international level.

OSTRALE commenced in 2007 as a local initiative by Andrea Hilger and Mike Salomon and has ever since achieved a broad reach within a short period of time. The exhibition represents the whole spectrum of contemporary art in an interdisciplinary way. Hundreds of national and international artists are invited to take part in the festival, which takes place at a meaningful architectural and historic industrial venue.

Dresden in particular has reached worldwide recognition, being known as "Florence of the Elbe". However, with OSTRALE the city has gained the potential to set a cultural and touristic antipole to its baroque history and to develop a historical generative, contemporary perspective to the classical exhibition format. Thus, today Dresden can expand its international significance in relation to "modernity".

The concept of curation enables us to hold an open tender- and application procedure and also to directly invite international artists. In this manner we can achieve maximal scope and an enormous quality of international contemporary art. The artwork can be newly created in situ in our exceptional spacial structures or else be installed in a novel context.

Exhibition Space - The Feeding Sheds of the historical Hans-Erlwein Slaughterhouse

A 100 years ago the famous German architect Hans Erlwein planned and built an abattoir at the Ostra peninsula. Today this area in the heart of the city of the arts Dresden implies an inexhaustible potential. Contemporary art is to be presented in exceptional premises, where it can find large-size development far from conventions and restrictive structures.

The divers architectonical characteristics of the Rinderstall (cattle barn), Heuböden (hay garrets), Futterställe (fodder barns), Sozialtrakt (social wing), Zentrallager (central store), Fettschmelze (fat smelter), Direktorenvilla (director's mansion), Pförtnerhäuschen (gatekeeper's house) and Amtsschlachthof (official abattoir) offer an unrivalled sprectrum of space variety where art can be presented and shown in different contexts. Since 2007 every year new buildings of the slowly tumbledowning area are opened and used partly as temporary exhibition space and partly fixed up to grow as a constant part of the emerging centre of arts.

In the meantime the OSTRALE focus on the  8.000 m² exhibition space of the Futterställe.

the Ostra Area

The OSTRALE's vision is to question conventional standards, to open them and simultaneously offer ways to newly interpret contemporary art. The diversity of the room structures is kind of inspiration and sensory perception in the creation of artwork for the artist and in the reception of the same through the public.

The nearby city centre, the persistent transformation of the Ostra peninsula as well as the flora and fauna of the Elbe meadows, which stand for peace and recreation convert the OSTRALE to something special, a hidden jewel in the heart of the busy town.

The Ostragehege is located in the core area of the former world cultural heritage of the "Dresdner Elbtal", the valley of the river Elbe. It is bordered in the East by the "Marienbrücke", in the South by the district Friedrichstadt and in the West by the Alberthafen, the largest inland port of Dresden. The river Elbe surrounds the Ostragehege in a semi circle resulting the area to be a peninsula.

The Ostragehege is named after the village Ostra, which has been mentioned in 1209 for the first time. Ostra means "island", though the village has been located in the today's Friedrichstadt. With the construction of the fortress of Dresden the area around Ostra has been developed as "Ostravorwerk" (outer defence). Hence in 1568 the village has been disbanded and the inhabitants has been resettled close to the village Leubnitz (from then on Leubnitz-Neuostra).

Prior to urban expansion in the 19th century the area has been affected by a partly wooded marsh area. For a long period wet lands marked the Ostragehege, caused by the stream Weißeritz, which ended into the Elbe above the peninsula and created a perment flooded and marsh zone. Through man-made influences like the relocation of the Weißeritz stream course, large area banking, the expansion of the Elbe river banks, housing and the construction of the harbour the river banks and the hydrological circumstances changed remarkably.

The abattoir, constructed by the city's planning commissioner Erlwein consisted of 68 buildings. After five years of mounting the inauguration took place on August 19th 1910. The ensemble of buildings in the so-called "Heimatschutzstil" architecture is a prominent example of the Art Nouveau industrial architecture.

The complex has been constructed in form of a housing scheme, which is embraced by a circular road. Close to the "Schlachthofring" (abattoir circle) a stockyard with railway access has been situated next to cattle and flock barns, slaughterhouses, a boiler- and machine house, a cold store and a restaurant. The capacity of the abattoir in the year 1910 covers 550 pieces of cattle, 3.450 veal and sheep and 2.500 pieces of pork per day.

The bombing in February 1945 did heavy damage to the buildings of the abattoir. Because of the acute food shortage of the post war period the buildings has been quickly reconstructed in a reduced version leaving the loss of a large part of the Art Nouveau architecture. During the German Democratic Republic the state combine of meat went on using the complex.

Today the worthwhile historic buildings are under preservation order.

Caspar David Friedrich: „Das Große Gehege“ (1832)