dutch > design > fashion > architecture >>> Year Report 2010
the year report 2010 of dutch dfa is published.
We contributed with an essay about the GastGastgeber-project in 'our tower'. Christoph Stark, of kitev, describes how a Dutch-German team of artists and designers overcame obstacles to create an inspiring working model of re-use.
.At RUHR.2010, European Capital of Culture, the Netherlands presented GastGastgeber, 'guest-host', a series of projects exploring the event's theme of 'reuse'. The first of these projects, an intervention in a former water tower in Oberhausen, opened in May with the help of kitev, the artists' organisation that manages the tower.
>> Working on GastGastgeber, the Dutch contribution to RUHR.2010, I encountered a stron impulse of fresh ideas that were coming from Dutch art and design. The Dutch explored contemporary questions about mobility, hospitality, spatial organization, and the need to find original models for the use of these spaces. They implanted and wrestled with these questions in vacant spaces in the heart of the post-industrial city, where their ideas - and the reactions they provoked - could resonate.
The success of GastGastgeber lies in the combination of Dutch design and the German context, and of Dutch invention and German application. In contrast to the parade-like Leistungsschau, where projects are dislocated from their intended environments, GastGastgeber provides working models of Dutch proposals in particular German settings - models that every city can learn from, and potentially adopt.
In Oberhausen, for example, JurgenBey managed to create a interior 'second skin', constructed from simple materials, which gave a fantastic birth to a lot of functions and created opportunities for other Dutch artists to contribute their interpretations.
As a founding member of the laboratory kitev, the issue of public space is crucial to me. In these times of increasing economic pressure, we must claim vacant but central public spaces as platforms on which the art and design practices can confront the most pertinent questions of contemporary society. Rather than surrendering every major traffic hub to the likes of McDonald's or Starbucks, we can reclaim these sites, programme them to counteract the repetitive urban landscape, and generate spaces that are new, fresh, and intelligent.
Most of the audience that came to see Dutch design at RUHR.2010 probably expected a display of Dutch cultural cliches. Instead, what they experienced at the top of the Oberhausen water tower was a contemporary statement about what we as a society are trying to resolve through the languages of art and design. Our guests were forced to confront and question this statement in an intimate way - and were more than happy to find themselves in this challenging position. We could see this directly from the tips they left after their stays! A new kind of interaction was created, whereby a common gesture of gratuity for hospitality moved into the context of art.
I like to work in teams to bring ideas to fruition. Collaboration is crucial in the process of creating new models. The strategic advantage of teamwork was evident while working in Oberhausen. When trying to insert a temporary project into an atypical space, confrontations with regulatory barriers are to be expected. It's not easy to obtain permission when trying to implement an artistic project, let alone a hotel, in a cultural heritage building that is also one of the most important, site-specific railway stations in the future Ruhr metropole. This is where collaboration starts to pay off: our team was able to consolidate its knowledge and creativity in order to overcome these regulations. In one case, we were required to declare a window in the hotel as the second emergency exit — but this window was 21 metres from the ground!
The absurdity of this obligation could be seen as an art installation -an 'EXIT' light flashing above a window to nowhere - revealing how information gathered from different areas of expertise can produce interesting temporary solutions. Kitev was able to turn a Dutch idea into reality, thanks to its strategic position and insight into the German institutions.
Another successful, and very symbolic example of our small, collaborative model was the project to repair the clocks visible on the exterior of the water tower. For 20 years, visitors approching this regional station have encountered three public clocks, always out of order. But through the initiative of a contemporary artists' group that came together and reacted to the space, these gigantic clocks, five meters in diameter, have not only been fixed, but have also been energised into an art installation without any public funding. Their repair was a gift to the citizens of Oberhausen and to the travellers who pass through the station.
This artists' group made possible what the state and the large
companies using the space had not been able to do themselves. Small
parasitical working structures can be more responsive, and somehow more
responsible and attractive than the often clumsy and bureaucratic
With support from the Ministry of Urban Development and Transport, our temporary project space - the four top levels of the water tower including the water tanks - became a long-term, sustainable platform after RUHR.2010. Its physical location in the main station tower is saved as a potential laboratory for the next 20 years - a site where bilateral collaborative structures can form: an intimate think thank and connection point between Berlin, Amsterdam and Brussels, centrally located in the Ruhr region. In this area, there is great potential for temporary, collaborative projects to be realised, fulfilling small but important tasks for the future. It is concentrated, organically emerging and flexible, creating a centrifugal machine for ideas and their manifestation in the public context. <<