To return to the previous chapter see here.
p. 28 – 41
TEMPORÄRE WERKE: junge KUNST AM MOLTKEPLATZ /
TEMPORARY WORKS: young ART AT THE MOLTKEPLATZ
From the very beginning Friedrich Gräsel, whose tubular sculpture Hannover Tor / Hanover Gate was the first work to be set up on the Moltkeplatz in 1982, expressed his strong support for the sculptures ensemble and the association KaM founded to preserve it. As a former arts professor of sculptural design at the Gesamthochschule / University Essen, he was, however, also keen in supporting young artists. “When we were young, it was still easy for young artists to set up works of art in the public space”, he pointed out, and encouraged KaM to supplement the maintenance and preservation of the existing sculptures with temporary exhibitions of “young” art works. This would enable the continued development of the Moltkeplatz as an arts location – as stated as an objective in the preamble of the stewardship agreements – to be combined with the promoting of young artists, and thus allow to overcome an “artistic stagnation” of the ensemble.
ADDRESSING THE MOLTKEVIERTEL
Similar ideas had already been discussed when the association was founded. Friedrich Gräsel’s ideas thus fell on fertile ground. It was decided that one major stipulation of this project should be to also promote the connection of young artists with the city of Essen. The development of a sculpture for the Moltkeplatz presupposes not only to deal with the existing works of art, the green, and its immediate surroundings, but also with the history and environment of the Moltkeviertel, which is of great interest from an urban planning and architectural point of view.
As members of its Artistic Advisory Board – provided for in its bylaws – the association was able to engage Dr Hartwig Fischer (then-director of the Museum Folkwang Essen), Dr Uwe Rüth (then-director of the Skulpturenmuseum Glaskasten Marl), and Prof Dr Manfred Schneckenburger (among others former Rector of the Kunstakademie / Academy of Fine Arts Münster). Their judgement corresponds in an excellent way to the high standards of the permanent sculptures at the Moltkeplatz. When Dr Fischer left the Museum Folkwang, his successor, Dr Tobia Bezzola, agreed to support the association in the same way.
FOLKWANG CURATORS RECOMMENDING ARTISTS
In 2009, the Curator for Contemporary Art of the Museum Folkwang, Dr Sabine Maria Schmidt, agreed to provide recommendations for possible “young” artists and their works, as well as the artistic supervision of the project. After about four years – with four “young” works – and following a change in the curator´s position, this support passed over to Dr Marcel Schumacher, and another three years later on to Dr Anna Fricke, who attends to the project since 2017.
After the Artistic Advisory Board has given its opinion on the proposed artist and the work, the association deals with all further matters related to the realization of the artist´s proposed work, including funding, approvals for its installation in the public space of the city of Essen, introducing it to visitors, and maintenance. In cooperation with the artist, KaM organizes the layouting and printing of cards, posters, and a documentation; artist´s talks are organised, and other events accompany the duration – just under a year – of the exhibition. The curator of the Museum Folkwang supports the various phases of the project continuously and intensively. This makes it possible to again and again present interesting examples of contemporary art in the public space of the city of Essen, and to further develop the art location Moltkeplatz.
Starting in the year of the European Capital of Culture RUHR. 2010, Christian Forsen’s Nachhaltiger Vogel / Sustainable Bird (2010) was the first such temporary „young“ work in this series, followed by Leunora Salihu´s Tube End (2010–2011), Monika Stricker´s I Know It Is A Metaphor (2012–2013), Frank Bölter’s HOrigamiUSE (2013–2014), Konsortium´s Korridor / Corridor (2014–2015) and Martin Pfeifle´s onda (2016–2017).
After the brochure was printed above series has been continued with Phung-Tien Phan´s Bankett Gruppe 2 / Banquet Group 2 (2018–2019), and Christian Odzuck´s Atlanten (2020–2021). Separate printed pages are being added to the brochure.
p. 30 Christian Forsen: Nachhaltiger Vogel / Sustainable Bird , 2010 | steel, synthetic material | 250 x 290 x 263 cm
It was Christian Forsen´s (* 1973) task to be the first artist to add a new art work to an existing ensemble of outstanding sculptures. His approach was quite pragmatic: He celebrates the art in public spaces. After years of decline his work reflects the new beginning: Like Phoenix rising from the ashes, Nachhaltiger Vogel / Sustainable Bird makes the art at the Moltkeplatz come alive again. Reminiscent of a charred tree trunk the double loop made of synthetic material points towards the plane trees´ tops that make up the airy roof of the open air display. Seemingly floating fragilely above the steel frame it looks as if it might be about to lose its balance; its momentum appears to be ever changing. You feel challenged to intervene in order to secure its balance. The work exudes a feeling of encouragement to indulge in the excitement of art, and a declaration of love for an unfettered commitment to art. Fly, birdie, fly!
„I wanted to add something to the Moltkeplatz that was missing: a warm, sociable meeting place. For this reason, my deliberations started off with a fire place.“
p. 32 Leunora Salihu: Tube End , 2010 | wood, synthetic material | 240 x 530 x 610 cm
Half technical device, half a lindworm: Tube End is intent on breaking free from the ground of the sculptures park to explore the world for us. Leonora Salihu (* 1977) pushes for the exchange among the dimensions, from the strange to the familiar, between art and life. Everything about the sculpture is designed for communication; it longs to exchange with us. A complicated structure enlarges the contact surface between the work and the environment. Different structures and different material, both with an organic and an industrialized appearance, are being correlated by the student of Tony Cragg. The work absorbs both mental and spatial information, and – in a fantastic work of translation and conveying – converts it to a radiation emitted as a meaning. In short: The work makes sense.
„Everything is intertwined. The sculptural work is only complete when the onlooker perceives it. He turns into part of the work by putting his own physicality in relationship to the physicality of the sculpture“.
p. 34 Monika Stricker: I Know It Is A Metaphor , 2012
artificial sweat, T-shirts, bucket, matchbox, matches, mirror, glass cabinet | 192 x 123 x 123 cm
To be or not to be – that is the question posed by Monika Stricker (* 1978). On the Moltkeplatz her work I Know It Is A Metaphor attracts the visitor with a content of presumably precious objects. Only on closer inspection does the banal content of the tall-as-a-man glass cabinet come to light: a burned match, T-shirts, and a bucket full of artificial sweat used elsewhere for testing purposes in the textile industry.
Do the exhibited items tell a story, or are they testimony of history? Whatever: Stricker plays the triangle of perception, illusion and reality. A metaphor does not stand for itself but rather refers to something else: in the same way the artist lends a shape to the world´s ambiguity. It is only by examining and pondering the glassy test setup on the lawn of the sculptures park that the visitor defines the possibilities. That includes the organic changes of this work of Rita McBride’s master student that occur with the seasons: in winter with frost flowers, in summer as a biotope.
„Two-dimensional turns tangible and real.“
p. 36 Frank Bölter: HOrigamiUSE , 2013 | laminated paper | 426 x 500 x 354 cm
Collectivity creates responsibility: Frank Bölter (* 1969) invited all citizens of the Moltkeviertel – and beyond – to jointly fold a house made of Tetrapak-like laminated paper: five meters wide and over four meters tall. Made by many it was a house for all, a symbol for collective action, the visible result of a joint commitment to assume responsibility for public spaces. Numerous people participated setting it up. But origami is not made for eternity: in the past Bölter’s works had often proved to be ephemeral. In 2006, a paper work of his that had been erected over several weeks by a multitude of participants was destroyed by a rain storm just a single day after its completion. The artist accepted this – taking it for granted – and thus demonstrated his refusal to apply costs-benefit considerations to cultural and social achievement. This, however, goes against the interests of the association KaM, which also for this work had agreed on a much longer display time. Again and again members restored the house. HOrigamiUSE thus confronted both the association KaM, the artist, and the visitor with the dilemma as to whether or not the preservation of a work of art might not actually destroy this same work.
„A monument of transitoriness is transformed more and more into a complex sculpture that tells of the seemingly contradictory competition between momentariness and preservation.“
p. 38 Konsortium: Korridor / Corridor , 2014 | timber, sheathing, wall paint, lacquer | 300 x 1,240 x 600 cm
“Der Baukunst zur Ehr´, der Jugend zur Lehr`/ Honouring architecture, teaching the youth“ was displayed above the portal of the Königlichen Baugewerkschule / Royal Architectural Construction College. Inaugurated in 1911, it today houses the Robert-Schmidt- Berufskolleg / -Vocational College, located at the southern end of the Moltkeplatz, which was laid out at the same time. The then-housing development that is now called Moltkeviertel was at that time supposed to be an example of fine architecture for the students. Konsortium, comprising Lars Breuer (* 1974), Sebastian Freytag (* 1978), and Guido Münch (* 1966), open a corridor leading back into this visionary period of the reform architecture movement – and beyond. The walls of their temporary building evoke the impression of construction fences or billboards – displaying architectural layouts: the ancient Acropolis of Athens, the Tempietto of the Renaissance architect Bramante, and the nuclear reactor of Chernobyl. The superimposed images display a universal draft for mankind´s aspiration for the higher and mighty, and the mastery of nature – the possibility of failure included: cf. Chernobyl. Nonetheless, the work of the Cologne/Düsseldorf artist trio encourages change: Life is a construction site, but at least there is a plan.
„All influences meet at the same level and can either neutralise or reinforce each other.“
p. 40 Martin Pfeifle: onda , 2016 | wooden slats, laminated wood, lacquer | 100 x 1,000 x 707 cm
Seating accommodation, playground, art work: when Martin Pfeifle (* 1975) “does the wave” at the Moltkeplatz, his work – extending some ten by seven meters – attracts life just like an artificial coral reef made of a ship sunk on purpose might attract fish. onda, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese for “wave”, makes a Mediterranean way of life – as a German might see it – wash onto the Moltkeplatz. Whenever the weather is fine, people relax on the construction: alone or with friends. Children frolic across the curvy structure made of white wooden slats that spreads joy. Pfeifle uncovers a playground on which everyone finds a place appropriate for him, and, beyond and in a figurative sense, forms this place. It is the people who as individuals produce the amplitudes of the wave, cause movement, and bring about changes in society. Colour and size ratio are those of a curved blank DIN / ISO A format sheet, indicating that the future is yet to be written.
„onda is to allow for interaction and to include the viewer. It has become a place of communication for the Moltkeplatz.“
Addenda (loose leaves):
p. 41 a, b Phung-Tien Phan: Bankett Gruppe 2 / Banquet Group 2 , 2018
eight individual pieces: concrete, metal, lacquer | fence: wood, polycarbonate, photo |
total: 57 x 1,405 x 870 cm
The lawn seems to be populated by unknown creatures: different forms of iridescent colours, standing on fragile legs. One might think of oversized beetles or insects. Six of them stand in an area delimited by an implied fence: animals in an enclosure. Two stand outside. Have they escaped? Or not yet been captured?
Only a stone’s throw away from busy traffic routes and striking old buildings – most of them more than a hundred years old – the work directs the viewer’s gaze from the traffic and architectural forms of a city to an almost rural-looking idyll. Only upon approach and closer inspection does this prove to be the result of a deliberate, disturbing artistic intervention.
The artist was born in Essen in 1983 and studied at the Folkwang University of the Arts, and at the Düsseldorf Art Academy. Her work clearly stands out from the permanently installed sculptures with their predominantly clear forms. In deliberate contrast, this temporary installation with its biologically-looking forms appears rather playful and light.
„Beetles, insects are among the first animals you meet in children’s books. Ladybugs, bees: cute and simple. In reality, this perception turns quite quickly: threatening and disgusting. It is best to make them disappear (cf Franz Kafka’s ‚The Metamorphosis‘). The enlargement of the bugs, the abstraction and the mixture with the chair legs provides space for the viewer’s own thoughts.“
p. 41 c, d Christian Odzuck: Atlanten, 2020 | mixed media | total: 580 x 1,745 x 726 cm
The city as a stage, the buildings their protagonists, the audience on the catwalk: Christian Odzuck’s installation „Atlanten“ supports the utopia of an artistic world, at the top of which stands architecture as a universal discipline. With this work, the Essen-based artist takes up the ideas of the „Glass Chain“, an exchange of letters between the expressionist architect Bruno Taut and like-minded people such as Walter Gropius. Ideas included the transpositioning of the Alps with buildings made of glass, of crystalline fragmentation, in order to reflect – from an artistic point of view – the social upheavals of the 1920s.
Entering the installation one becomes part of the radically open discussion: from a solar-powered lantern one makes its ways on an elevated footbridge into a pavilion. The open walls of which, made up of crystal-like triangular frames bolted together, resemble a spatial sketch. The material used, largely left in their raw state, make it clear: this is more about a blueprint, about an idea. Questions are raised such as: What can architecture offer as a field of dialogue for art? What influence does it have on the transformation of society? What remains of artistic utopias when visions already fail in reality? Odzuck’s „Atlanten“ invites us to continue the „Glass Chain“ here and now. Where else but in the reform-architectural Moltkeviertel would there be a better place to do so?
„I’m interested in ´lost places´: cordoned-off buildings left to their own devices, which exude a morbid charm and tell stories when you wander through them without a permit. But these places also show that architecture can serve a function without its assigned purpose – even if it only stands for itself.“