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They came to stay:
The skulptur projekte münster 07

After the turmoil at the Venice Biennale, the Art Basel, and the documenta, the opening of the skulptur projekte in Munster formed the finale of this year’s "Grand Tour" for art lovers throughout all of Europe. On view is a work by Isa Genzken, sponsored by Deutsche Bank. Every ten years, the long-term project demonstrates how the concept of sculpture in public space has changed, transforming the picturesque Westphalian city into an international laboratory for art. But how do the participants react to the increasing commercialization and privatization of public space? Silke Hohmann hopped on a bike and had a look around Munster.

Andreas Siekmann:
Trickle Down. Public Space in the Age of Its Privatization
Photo: Roman Mensing/sp07

Almost as an afterthought, Kasper König's skulptur projekte are also an exhibition about time. The show takes place every ten years in Munster, and over the past four decades, it's not only the city that's changed measurably, but the art as well. The widely spaced cycle also acts as an antidote to the crazed fair and biennial business, where global events follow seamlessly upon one another. And the approximately thirty works, most of which have been made to stay, have to face up to duration.

Bruce Nauman
Square Depression
Photo: Arendt Mensing/sp07

Bruce Nauman’s inverted pyramid Square Depression, situated near the university grounds, should have been made in 1977. Although the square crater leading several meters down into the ground was realized thirty years later, it seems as though it’s always been there. It’s brand new, but you can still somewhat see that time has passed.

Munster 07 shows how the concept of sculpture in public space has changed since the open-air exhibition was first established: for Claes Oldenburg and Donald Judd, who in the past built their geometric exercises in the landscape, it was a matter of radical self-assertion, of the artist’s right to express himself outside of the museum. In 2007, this battle has long since been played out – and, in the end, lost: to the superior power of Berlin’s Buddy Bears, Zurich’s cows, and Frankfurt’s Euros that populate the cities as a matter of course, without the general agreement of the populace, but largely without protest. And ultimately destroy the hard-won concept of art in public space with a "hurrah!" in cheery colors.

Andreas Siekmann:
Trickle Down. Public Space in the Age of Its Privatization
Photo: Roman Mensing/sp07

On this theme, Andreas Siekmann developed one of the most intelligent works of skulptur projekte 07: he obtained a number of the very same stand-up cows, horses (Hanover), and frogs (Quakenbrück), shredded them, and rolled them up into a ball measuring almost three meters in diameter. This demonstrative junking action initially comes across as a destructive commentary, but Siekmann takes it further than that. On the resulting sculpture and additional information elements, he printed pictograms based on the increase in privatization, for instance security personnel chasing people that are not potential customers from plazas and streets with shops. Andreas Siekmann’s works are often didactic, but it’s necessary here to reveal an important and larger connection: privatization’s repression of urban life from public space, together with its aesthetic consequences.

Clemens von Wedemeyer:
From Across the Way
Photo: Roman Mensing/sp07

Upon their arrival in Munster, a film by Clemens von Wedemeyer playing in the cinema close to the train station puts visitors in the right mood for the art tour: the 1974-born film artist chose the public space surrounding the train station as a setting for a sequence of episodes spanning 24 hours. In the morning, needy individuals at the charity organization in the station; the foreign woman without a ticket; the bag left behind on a track; at night, people fearfully crossing the underpass – von Wedemeyer’s subjective camera sketches an image of the city that would otherwise remain hidden to the short-term visitor. He builds in his themes, such as poverty and the security mania, so realistically that you wonder why he didn’t actually film a documentary or risk more fiction with his actors, some of whom are homeless from Munster. Despite this, von Wedemeyer’s film sticks in the mind, and so becomes a work in public space. It’s to the credit of the curators Kasper König, Brigitte Franzen, and Carina Plath that they selected von Wedemeyer – despite his medium, but because of his subject matter.

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