H.Zobernig: basisarchiv:kunst (Installation Museumsquartier) I. 2001

The foundation of basis wien’s documentation centre is its archive, which Lioba Reddeker established in 1997 in her capacity as Austrian Federal Curator (Bundeskuratorin). She invited artists to deposit documentation of their works in the archive. In addition, the archive began an on-going observation of media on contemporary art in and outside Austria. The potential of the Internet for the newly established and growing archive was very soon recognised: in 1999 the first version of the basis wien database went online.


In cooperation with artists, curators, critics, media, exhibition spaces, art galleries and off spaces, the holdings of the archive have been steadily expanded.

Also in 1999 the European Commission founded the international “vector cooperation” as part of its support programme Culture 2000, with the goal of achieving a decentralised network of stored archive content processed according to scholarly methods of standardisation. The project was coordinated by basis wien and partners included the documenta archive in Kassel and the Museion in Bozen.

Since 2002 there has been ongoing networking in a successor project to make a number of European art archives available online as a portal: the European Art Net (EAN).

Despite this and other successful projects, basis wien received insufficient state funding and because of chronic under-funding was confronted in 2003 with impending closure, to which it drew attention in a broad public campaign.

In 2005 basis wien found an important partner in Hangar-7 in Salzburg. Up to autumn 2011, Hangar-7 sponsored and basis wien produced a total of 19 exhibitions under the artistic direction of Lioba Reddeker with a focus on figurative painting. Thanks to this cooperation, it was possible to secure the survival of the archive.

basis wien has repeatedly brought to bear its expertise in the documentation of contemporary art in various projects. In cooperation with the Salzburg NewMediaLab (Salzburg Research) and the Linz Ludwig Boltzmann Institute Media.Art.Research, it developed within the research project SAMY (Single Point of Access Semantic Media Repository Framework) the ontology for an innovative database model that makes possible advanced archiving by taking into account the most recent scientific knowledge. Since then basis wien has worked on the technical realisation of this data model in various cooperative projects. The first step was the re-launch of the basis wien website in 2011, with a new design and extended search options for users.

Lioba Reddeker died on August 27, 2011, in Vienna.

After Lioba Reddeker’s death in the summer of 2011, and the consequent financial loss brought about by the discontinuance of HangART-7’s exhibition programme, a small team of volunteer staff began restructuring the association both financially and in content.

With the participation of the federal states of Upper Austria, Styria and Lower Austria, the year’s activities could be partly secured.

In addition, with the integration and indexing of the archive of the St. Pölten Art Collection Centre since 1 January 2013, the range of the database could be extended and made available for the first time to another institution. The physical materials of the St. Pölten archive will be transported in stages to Vienna, indexed in the archive of basis wien and incorporated into its online database. This will result not only in an immense increase of information in the database, but also in a greater usability and accessibility of the Collection Centre materials.

In 2013 an online petition for the preservation of the basis wien Archive and Documentation Centre drew attention to their underfunding. With their signatures, 2,884 people supported the continuation of basis wien’s documentary work in an appeal to the then Minister Claudia Schmied. As a consequence of aroused public attention, basis wien was able to enter into constructive discussions for future partnerships.

Since the beginning of 2014, basis wien has enjoyed a cooperation with the University of Applied Arts Vienna. In the university the Archive and Documentation Centre for Contemporary Art in and from Austria has gained a strong partner and so averted the threat of closure and the cessation of its documentary work. The database now bears the name of Art and Research Database – Angewandte / basis wien.