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Art Tour with 27 Courses
The "skulptur projekte münster 07"

"Art in Public Space": every ten years, this concept, which has always been a bone of contention, is the focus of "skulptur projekte münster." This year, the widely scattered sculptures can once again be best explored on bicycle. The fourth round of the legendary show unites international art stars like Bruce Nauman, Mark Wallinger, and Isa Genzken, whose contribution is sponsored by Deutsche Bank. The artists have set out to save the reputation of an idea that has fallen into discredit in an age of city image marketing – with all its annoying Berlin Buddy Bears and painted plastic bulls. db artmag has a look at the art from a biker’s point of view.

Marko Lehanka: "Blume für Münster" on the Prinzipalmarkt,
photomontage of the artist

Half a million two-wheeled vehicles on the streets: whoever visits Münster simply has to do it on a bike. That’s a big cliché, of course, but for the moment it’s fairly apt. How else but per pedales should visitors manage the long distances separating the works of 35 international artists scattered around the entire urban area – in the inner city, around the Aasee, or on the university campus? Starting on June 17, the skulptur projekte münster lure visitors once again to Westphalia. In a ten-year-rhythm since 1977, the state of sculpture and society become the subjects of investigation in a mega-show that was able to win over international superstars like Claes Oldenburg and Richard Serra already for its first round. And so, every ten years art enthusiasts mount their bicycles in Münster to find out the state of the art in public art.

Guy Ben-Ner, Draft for his Münster projekt,
Photo: Roman Mensing/sp07

Whoever grabs one of the shiny silver high-tech bicycles to pedal to the works ahead of time can’t help but ponder the relationship between art and the bicycle in general. The modern wonder comes across as the stylishly spoiled grandson of Duchamp’s Roue de Bicyclette: in 1913, the French artist inverted a simple spoked wheel and mounted it on a stool, thus creating the prototype for his famous "Ready-Mades" and opening up an entirely new dimension for sculpture – the banality of everyday life as a three-dimensional art object. When Claes Oldenburg’s gigantic billiard balls were installed at the first skulptur projekte, this idea also came to fore in Münster, albeit in altered form.

Guy Ben-Ner
Photo: Roman Mensing/sp07

In 2007, the work of Guy Ben-Ner formulates a direct reference to Duchamp: together with his children, the Israeli artist rebuilt famous bicycle works of the art world, took them apart, and put them back together again. The end results of this "deconstruction" of famous works form a Tinguely-esque machine monster. When you hit the pedal, a mechanism moves a brush across a canvas. Fits in perfectly with this city of solid calf muscles.

Installation of Claes Oldenburg's Giant Pool Balls 1977,
Photo: Rudolf Wakonigg / LWL-Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte

The next work of art is only a few minutes away on bike. Behind an inconspicuous gate near the main train station, situated between office buildings and parking garages, the American artist Mike Kelley has staged a small rustic idyll: a petting zoo complete with donkeys, sheep, goats, and ponies. The central element of this animal farm, however, is the life-sized Biblical figure of salt Kelley installed: Lot’s Wife, who went against God’s command and turned around to gaze at the downfall of Sodom and Gomorrha, only to freeze into a pillar of salt. Now, in Münster, the animals of the petting zoo occasionally lick at the sculpture, gradually altering its form throughout the duration of the exhibition. It’s only at first glance a remake of Kader Attia’s work Flying Rats from 2005, in which the French artist let pigeons pick at little figures of children fashioned from birdfeed. In contrast to Attia, Kelley is not concerned with visualizing destructive violence; on the contrary, he’s interest in love and affection and the various forms of aberrant sexuality, which in English can be subsumed under the term sodomy.

Guillaume Bijl,
Archeological Site (Sorry-Installation), Modell,
Photo: Roman Mensing/sp07

Whether or not Kelley’s licked salt figure will injure the religious sentiments of Münster’s devout Catholic inhabitants remains to be seen. But a scandal seems unlikely. Ultimately, the city has grown used to art in public space. That was different in the ’70s, as the founding story of skulptur projekte reveals: in 1973, the city erected a sculpture by George Rickey on the Engelenschanze – three stainless steel squares on a pole that rotate in the wind. The work was a gift of WestLB, which in turn was permitted to purchase a plot of land for a new company building. As a result, the old Münster Zoo had to give way to the bank building, which met with disapproval among the city’s inhabitants, which then turned against the donated sculpture. "Back then, the mood was so explosive that the newspapers really got up in arms against the art," as Kasper König, curator for skulptur projekte münster from the very beginning, recalls. In order to bring the debate back to an objective level, the director of the Landesmuseum at the time, Klaus Bußmann, initiated an exhibition on modern sculpture from Rodin to the present day. The informative show was presented in 1977 – with a branch in the city space, the "project part," curated by then 34-year-old Kasper König.

skulptur projekte münster 07: the curatorial team:
Dr. Brigitte Franzen, Prof. Kasper König, Dr. Carina Plath (v.l.),
Foto: Roman Mensing/sp07

And so, a history of scandal gradually gives way to a success story. At the first skulptur projekte, enraged residents of Münster actually tried to roll Oldenburg’s Pool Balls into Lake Aa. Things like that don’t happen anymore. But the art has changed, too. As can quickly be discovered on the next bike tour. While Oldenburg’s cement balls confronted the viewer as hermetically sealed monuments, this year some artists seek direct contact with the population of Münster, incorporating them in their projects.

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