"Neue Kunst in alten Gassen"


In Daniel Buren’s essay „Sculpture Project Münster 1997“ Daniel asks the question whether art could come down from its pedestal in museums and galleries onto the street level. Projects like Münster say yes to this showing that his demand in this respect is right: art which opens up to people who are not specialised on art, has to be totally redefined. The artist no longer works for a protected space – the museum or the gallerie – or for the art specialist. Daniel positions himself with his piece of art at the side or into the everyday life and – before all – had to confront his idea with the triviality of life...

During the project “Neue Kunst in alten Gassen” (Contemporary Art in Historical Lanes) the artists go another way and even further. Here the artist presents his work not in public space – an area open for everybody - but in places now absolutely private, which had been partly or totally forgotten or are being used contrary to their former meaning.

Out of the museum, then into the street, now back into closed places and into privacy. Why? To me it seems logical to try this experiment: the artist and with his art had come down from his pedestal, he had confronted his work with the street, but still he came from outside, from above, he kept distance to the spectator.

Hans Schohl - "Zeit"

For the project “Neue Kunst in alten Gassen” the artist not only had to choose himself a private room, but he also had to confront himself with the owner of the room. He had to make a concept where the room was part of the piece of art he was going to create.

Before the realisation of the project the owners of these places had to agree to open up these private places for art, for the artist and consequently for the public as well. The sexton, the former baker, the printer or turner – they normally do not much think about art, but they have conceded their places to be part of a work of art. They felt accepted. Very often they were astonished that these totally normal rooms – partly even used just as lumber-rooms – could be interesting for the project. Nobody ever showed interest in the physiology of the places after (or even before) having lost their original function. Now they should – by the means of art – be brought back into memory. They were to be related to contemporary artistic thinking.

Without a dialog between the invited artists and the owners of the places this project had not been possible. But dialog did not mean that there was always mutual understanding. The respective artist was not to compromise, he was to work innovatively and stay true to himself and his idea. A dialog between the owners of the places and the artists on the diverse projects which differed in depth and comprehensiveness, lead to mutual understanding acceptance and enrichment – not always on the art level, but at least on the personal level.

Ute Poeppel - "Von der Langsamkeit eines Federn-Tanzes"

This project was – as well as for the artists as for the inhabitants of the town of Bad Laasphe – an experiment which demanded tolerance and broad-mindedness. Very often the term of “art” was questioned some installations provoked helplessness. The conception of art = “picture” or “sculpture” as well as the line between “art” and everyday life blotted out. The making of a piece of art was experienced as process, which took many weeks, the results of  dialogs and reflections where shown to the public: most of the artists have referred to their specific places and used its meaning for their work which was created in two days and for two days. This might have been interpreted as waste or extravagance but it certainly corresponds to the desire to free oneself of the pressure to keep and store art as if it was an object (consumer good) between others.

That is what contemporary art certainly is not.

Renate Hahn