The HMKV Hartware MedienKunstVerein is a platform for the production, presentation, and communication of contemporary and experimental (media) art. The term ‘media art’ is intended here not as a technologically defined genre, but as contemporary art that is concerned both in content and concept with the present-day world, which is profoundly influenced by media and technology. Among the major goals of the HMKV are exploring contemporary themes and questions, addressing the wider public in its educational work, and an interdisciplinary artistic agenda. The aim common to all of the HMKV’s projects is to implement art in an attempt to facilitate public understanding of the multi-layered social, political, economic, and ecological conditions prevailing today. In a globalised world based on the interaction of these systems and accelerated through technology, this approach fosters a new perspective on contemporary life that enriches individual perception and makes it easier to understand complex connections.
Thus, the HMKV occupies a singular position in North Rhine-Westphalia – and in Germany. It has grown out of a widely variegated international network, which the institution brings together in a multi-faceted programme of exhibitions and events. The exhibitions of the HMKV have met with a high degree of recognition regionally, nationally, and internationally; they are characterised by a broad understanding of the term ‘media art’, which features multiple intersections with other artistic disciplines such as fine arts, film, and the performance arts.
HMKV's exhibition “games. Computer Games by Artists” was elected, by the German section of AICA (International Association of Art Critics), as “Exceptional Exhibition 2003” and received the Innovation Award by the Fonds Soziokultur 2004. In 2011, HMKV was awarded the JUMP Annual Sponsorship Award for Art Organisations funded by the Arts Foundation of North Rhine-Westphalia (Kunststiftung NRW). In 2017, HMKV received the ADKV – ART COLOGNE Prize for Art Associations after having been nominated for the sixth time in 2017 (following 2007, 2008, 2011, 2013 and 2014). In 2013 it received an Honourable Mention in the context of this prize.
Since its founding in 1996, the HMKV has staged almost 90 exhibitions; as well as film programmes, video, music, performances, workshops, lectures, and conferences in various cities in Germany and abroad as well as in Dortmund – for the most part in the 2,200-square-metre PHOENIX Halle Dortmund (2003-2010), a replacement parts warehouse belonging to the former steel mill Phoenix-West, which was erected in 1895. Among the exhibitions of the last eighteen years have been important projects such as Reservate der Sehnsucht (1998), games – Computer Games by Artists (“Special Exhibition” prize of the year 2003 awarded by the German section of AICA, “Innovation Prize” of the year 2004, awarded by the Fonds Soziokultur), History Will Repeat Itself (2007), Anna Kournikova ... Art in the Age of Intellectual Property (2008), Awake Are Only the Spirits” – On Ghosts and their Media (2009), Building Memory and Arctic Perspective (ARTFORUM included Arctic Perspective in its “Best Exhibitions of 2010”), The Oil Show (2011), Sounds Like Silence (“Special Exhibition”of the year 2012 awarded by the German section of AICA), His Master’s Voice: On Voice and Language (2013), INDUSTRIAL (Research) and Requiem for a Bank (2013–14). Scheduled for 2014 were the exhibitions World of Matter: On the Global Ecologies of Raw Material, “Now I Can Help Myself”—The 100 Best Internet Video Tutorials, and Evil Clowns, among others. The Mechanical Corps followed in the footsteps of Jules Verne in 2015, Digital Folklore was dedicated to the archaeology of the WWW in the same year, and in 2016 Whistleblower & Vigilantes presented central figures of the digital resistance. 2017 began with an exhibition on Brutalism. The exhibition Afro-Tech (2017) presented Africa as a continent of technological innovation, while The Storming of the Winter Palace explored one of the most successful "fake news" stories – the story of the photograph of the famous "Storming", which, however, originated from a theatre production in 1920. Computer Grrrls (2018) focused on the relationship between women and technology in the past and present. The exhibition The Alt-Right Complex (2019) examined racist and identitarian (so-called "new" or "alternative") right-wing networks, while Artists & Agents – Performance Art and Secret Services explored the strange connection between intelligence and artistic practices (2019-2020).