Next to the Large wholesale food market (Grossmarkthalle) in Munich is a small little building with a glass door that used to be a public bathroom.
The idea of turning a toilette room into an art space did not occur to Anja Uhlig right away. Anja first approached the Grossmarkthalle and asked them if she could convert the unused and neglected toilet room into an art studio space.
I was sitting on the other side of the street at an Italian cafe and looked over at the empty space and thought it would make a good studio space. (I expected an empty white room).
The moment I walked into the space and saw all the butter yellow tiles, I knew I wanted to have it and keep it as close to the way it looked as possible and share it. After seeing the inside, I understood what it was and I instantly fell in love with the space. “falling in love” is what has kept me running the space for so many years- it’s simply something like a “love story.”
It really is one of the most beautiful spaces I know. I wanted to “share” it and make its beauty visible.
Anja achieved her goal with the help of the city of Munich. Writing a proposal, Anja outlined how she wanted to use the space and the city agreed to help her with the rental costs.
Looking around the space, the walls still have the writing left behind from men looking for a good time. Porcelain urinals stand in place and the ceiling has a rough plank covering a hole that leads to the space under the roof.
Anja loves everything about the space and invites other artists to interact with the toilet room and its unique history. If an artist accepts Anja’s invitation, the artwork created or displayed in the space must respect the space’s origins as a public toilet.
Sometimes artists have a hard time with this and ask Anja if they can alter the space; Anja’s answer is always the same – No, the space stays as it is.
Is the toilet a gallery? Absolutely not. The artwork shown inside is sometimes for sale but the ultimate goal of the space is not to sell artwork but to share the space and art with people who may never go near a gallery or museum.
The space is also not open in a traditional sense. The KloHaeuschen has a glass door which allows visitors to view the artwork and artists are fully aware when they are invited that the space will be closed unless the artist is present to allow visitors in.
How does Anja choose the artists? A few years ago, Anja published an open call for artists and she is still working her way through the list. On occasion, Anja is inspired to ask an artist to interact with the space if she feels the interaction would create something meaningful for both the KloHaeuschen and the artist.
Because the space is not a gallery space, Anja is in no hurry to fill it with just any artist. The artists who create work with the KoHaeuschen must be willing to work with the KloHaeuschen and interact with the space.
The ultimate goal for each artist may be different but Anja hopes that each artist is changed by their interaction with her Sendling art space.
If you would like to visit the KloHaeuschen, you can peek in anytime the shades are up. Just take the U3 To Implerstrasse and walk towards the Grossmarkthalle. It is right next to the gate as you walk in the direction of the Graffiti wall.
Here are some photos of an exhibition within the KloHaeuschen.