Participation of civil society
In the 3-year, participatory sculpture project, the choice of artist by the young citizens was always preceded by an extensive educational project that took place around the Rossmarkt and transformed the urban space. Together with various experts, the young Frankfurters – around 35 students from all grammar schools annually – explored the public space in many interdisciplinary workshops under historical, urban, sociological and aesthetic aspects. The educational study imparted the necessary knowledge and judgment to deal responsibly with public space and to set up premises as contract content for the artist and his work. On the one hand, this process created identity, on the other hand it was about content that went far beyond the urban framework. Above all, the democratic and civic process of finding art was new. Participation made it possible to relocate to one’s own urban living space.
Interdisciplinary group of experts: Alex Oppermann, designer (Saasfee), Björn Wissenbach, city historian, Mischa Bonn, physicist (MPI), Ulrich Sonnenschein, journalist (HR), Peter Schenk, graphic designer, Swantje Karich, art critic (Die Welt), Ulrich Lang, restorer (MMK), Hella Schindel, architect, Lorenz Dexler, landscape architect (Topotek), Jule Hillgärtner, curator and director (Kunstverein Braunschweig), Jule Lienemeyer, urban planner (City of Frankfurt), Marc Behrens, sound artist, Antje Grell, architect, Mathias Wilvonseder, artist, Ulf Kilian, artist, Christine Bürkle, dancer, Michael Beye, architect, Lukas Scheid, architect, Peyman Rahimi, artist, Martin Neumaier, artist, Matthias Göritz, writer.
Public spaces and revolution
“The first phase of the project consisted of workshops that enabled people to experience Frankfurt’s city centre, and particularly the Rossmarkt, as spaces. Workshop participants engaged with the urban environment from many different angles. First of all, there was a light-hearted activity called ‘Blind Man’s Buff’, in which schoolchildren walked around streets and squares blindfolded so as to ‘see’ their environment in a completely new way.
Another group analysed the Rossmarkt directly using camera phone photos, sketches and measurements in stride lengths. These records were turned into three-dimensional outlines which recreated the silhouette of the area as closely as possible, including the trees and surrounding tower blocks.
After that, each participant designed their own ‘Rossmarkt utopia’ in the form of a poster. The students used all kinds of techniques – everything from collage to drawing to origami. And their ideas for the space itself were just as creative, featuring stages, cafés, seating areas, green spaces, street art and lots more.
A ‘revolution workshop’ took a theoretical look at the role of public squares in social unrest, and then experimented with its own revolution: ‘What are you thinking about?’ asked the resulting banners, which the students presented to passers-by to try and get them thinking. The ‘revolution procession’ even attached itself briefly to a demonstration which happened to be taking place at the same time, and which could wholeheartedly identify with the statement ‘Think more!’ There was also praise from many local residents who were enthusiastic about the message – whilst others admitted to thinking about ‘nothing at all’.
In Frankfurt city centre there are many artistic treasures both large and small, from the classical monument in the Taunusanlage quarter to the Euro symbol outside the European Central Bank. The question of what distinguishes these works from one another, and which of them can be defined as art, was discussed by the participants of an architect-led guided tour around the Wallanlagen (a ring-shaped green area around the city centre of Frankfurt).
The most spectacular workshop was undoubtedly the final one, which was attended not only by all the students but also by friends and interested onlookers. The idea was to cover the Rossmarkt with a ‘sea’ of plastic film – no easy task, given the strong winds and the huge area to be covered! There was a quick change of plan and the Gutenberg monument was graced with some new plastic packaging, much to the astonishment of the many bystanders. Ultimately these bystanders themselves also ended up forming part of the installation, when the plastic film was stretched across the square like a barrier.”
Valeria Mazzaferro (ROSSMARKT3 Community 2012/13)
Participants 2012/13: Sophia von Lüpke, Luka Jazo, Valeria Mazzaferro, Tim Wildberger, Theresa Begon, Sonja Kutzner, Rachel Marcu Narjess, Hadjam Naomi Royer, Maja Sen-Gupta, Katarina Colic, Jennifer Bisch, Malte Sonnenschein, Isabelle Duchêne, Viktoria Drews, Setareh Alipour, Ann-Kathrin Westenhoeffer, Florinda Frentescu, Nazlican Yüsek, Doreen Gehl, Anna Jungbluth, Aylin Laura Steingraf, Chiara Erhardt