Press release, June 9th, 2017:
You’re in Münster. It’s pouring with rain. You have to take cover to study the map. Oh, good, the nearest project seems to be inside a building. North, south, east, west. That’s another project we wanted to see. A kilometre or two by bike shouldn’t be a problem. The sun’s coming out.
Every ten years since 1977, the Skulptur Projekte have been offering a special exhibition experience: Artists develop site-specific works for Münster – sculptures, but also video installations or performances. These projects inscribe themselves in the city’s structural, historical and social contexts while at the same time pointing beyond its boundaries. The artistic explorations are as much concerned with issues of the global present and reflections on the concept of sculpture as with questions about the relationship between public and private space in times of increasing digitalization.
On Friday (9 June), the curatorial team – consisting of free-lance curator Britta Peters of Hamburg, the LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur curator of contemporary art, Marianne Wagner, and the exhibition’s artistic director Kasper König – introduced the Skulptur Projekte 2017. Project director Imke Itzen offered insights into the project in terms of facts and figures. The exhibition’s two institutional mainstays – the Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe (LWL), represented by its director Matthias Löb, and the City of Münster with Mayor Markus Lewe – stressed the significance of the Skulptur Projekte for Münster and the region. Markus Schabel of the Sparkasse Münsterland Ost and Dr Wolfgang Breuer of the Westfälische Provinzial Versicherung spoke as representatives of the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe, and Friederike Tappe-Hornbostel on behalf of the German Federal Cultural Foundation about its dedication as a major sponsor. Dr. Ursula Sinnreich represented the Kunststiftung NRW in its role of a sponsor to Skulptur Projekte 2017.
KASPER KÖNIG outlined the role he plays in the fifth edition of the Skulptur Projekte: “As artistic director, my job is to make sure that it doesn’t become a festival but remains an exhibition that is perceived physically, haptically and emotionally. I am here to fight for the autonomy of the Skulptur Projekte – and to learn from the younger generations.” BRITTA PETERS shed light on the project’s underlying conditions: “The exhibition becomes reality with the participating artists’ project proposals. The curatorial expectations are high, but at the same time relatively free of constraints. The only thing we want the 2017 edition to demonstrate to the broad public in Münster is the political and social relevance of aesthetically honed artistic stances. Although this entails the risk of failure, I think we can be very pleased with how well everything has turned out. The works offer widely differing points of departure and enter into lively correspondence with one another: again and again, we discover new common threads and cross-connections.” MARIANNE WAGNER focussed on what makes curatorial work in the public space unique: “The Skulptur Projekte are a testing ground for discussion on matters of relevance to art and society but also for critical debate on individual artistic stances. To explore the public space always also means to negotiate it. In the phase of the exhibition’s realization, this is evident in the cooperation between the artists and a large number of protagonists within the city. And it is also mirrored by the archive that – by documenting the development of the past forty years – has itself become a point of reference for us and for the artists.”
LWL director MATTHIAS LÖB summed up the significance of the Skulptur Projekte for the region: “With its seventeen museums, the Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe is the region’s most important culture provider. One of these museums, the LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur in Münster, is now once again serving as an anchor for the Skulptur Projekte. To a lot of people on the outside, Westphalia looks like a prime example of monotonous provinciality. But unjustifiably so, because the region hosts highly regarded and well-attended exhibitions, and artists of world renown have Münster on their map. And every ten years, the people who constitute the Skulptur Projekte pose a serious challenge to our straight-laced image. This friction appeals to the visitors and does the region a lot of good.”
Lord Mayor MARKUS LEWE talked about how the exhibition enriches public life in the city of Müns-ter: “The Skulptur Projekte conduct a dialogue with us about Münster, the public space, and our life in it. Not only does the art grant us ever new experiences of our city; it also offers an exceptional opportunity to talk and argue about our own conceptions of Münster.”
FRIEDERIKE TAPPE-HORNBOSTEL, spokeswoman of the German Federal Cultural Foundation, called the exhibition a “great decennial experiment on the issue of what direction sculpture should take in the future”, and recalled: “Forty years ago, all signs were pointing to a rejection of the traditions of classical modern art. People were leaving the museum space behind in favour of every- day urban life. Processes of public action with broad audience participation – and above all the wide-scale investigation of the city of Münster – took pride of place before interest in artists and their work. Yet the Skulptur Projekte have never been concerned merely with the artist and his work in the outdoor space – with the ‘Hero and His Weather’, as it were –, any more than they have ever contented themselves with the city merely as a kind of temporary open-air gallery. In the exhibition year 2017, it is evident once again how successfully they create proving grounds that encourage contemplation about art as much as they do the art of contemplation.”
MARKUS SCHABEL, chairman of the executive board of the Sparkasse Münsterland Ost, observed: “With the Skulptur Projekte, the region has once again kindled a cultural beacon that inspires people far beyond the boundaries of Münster and Münsterland. By bringing unique artworks into our living environment, the famous exhibition makes art accessible for all to experience and contributes substantially to the attractiveness of our surroundings. That is a venture the Sparkasse Münsterland Ost, its foundations, and the entire Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe are glad to support.”
DR WOLFGANG BREUER, chairman of the executive board of the Westfälische Provinzial Versicherung, called attention to the Provinzial Stiftung’s longstanding dedication: “By providing assistance to the premiere edition of the Skulptur Projekte back in 1977, the Westfälische Provinzial laid the cornerstone for a company tradition that has continued to this day. We are accordingly delighted that our Provinzial Stiftung LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur is once again helping put Münster in the spotlight of the international art world in 2017. What is more, for the first time we are collaborating in this effort with the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe, the Skulptur Projekte’s chief sponsor, thus emphasizing our close and vibrant relationship to the region.”
The fifth edition of the Skulptur Projekte has given rise to the creation of 35 new works developed by the artists for the specific local conditions in Münster at the invitation of the curatorial team. The exhibition spreads out over the entire urban space and for the first time also encompasses cooperation with another institution, the Skulpturenmuseum Glaskasten in Marl.
With the Westphalian city of Marl, Münster is expanding the object of its study – the city in the Ruhr region offers an exciting counterpoint. Because both topographically and sociographically, Marl marks the interface between the Ruhr region and Münsterland and has a tradition of its own in the realm of art in the public space. Titled The Hot Wire, the cooperation comprises a variety of project components in the indoor and outdoor area: Artists who work in both cities, exchange of sculptures, an exhibition of models from the Skulptur Projekte archive, a video exhibition in an old school building, and a wealth of reciprocal visits.
A 480-page catalogue accompanies the exhibition. Developed in collaboration with the Swiss designers Lex Trüb and Urs Lehni, the catalogue concept seeks to do equal justice to the exhibition as a whole and to its individual projects. In addition to project pages developed especially with the artists, it also includes an extensive series of photos of the current works. Each of the seven essays formulates its own trenchant proposition, so that together they offer the exhibition a forum for discourse. The authors are Inke Arns, Claire Doherty, Georg Elben, Mithu Sanyal, Mark von Schlegell, Angelika Schnell, Gerhard Vinken and Raluca Voinea. The catalogue is designed as an affordable and easy-to-handle book of magazine-like character, a combination exhibition catalogue and visitors’ guide; the museum edition costs 15 euros, and is published by Spector Books, Leipzig. It is supplemented by an orientation map at the price of 3 euros, marking the locations of all Skulptur Projekte sites and providing short explanations of the works. All information is also available digitally in the form of a navigation app.
In the period from 10 June to 1 October 2017, familiar places will take on a new character and unexpected perspectives will open up. Accustomed paths will lead to the unknown, and new goals will require the treading of unaccustomed paths. This is where the Skulptur Projekte’s art mediation programme comes in: it will create communicative situations and trigger processes allowing the perception of changes and a change of perceptions. It will help visitors find the unfamiliar in the seemingly familiar – and put it into words. The Trafostation in Schlaunstrasse is a special art mediation venue. A building of industrial character, the Trafostation will be open daily to host a programme of offers for the public and previously registered groups. On weekdays it will accommodate workshops for school groups, on Saturdays and during the school holidays public workshops for children and teens. In the evening, public workshops and events for young adults will take place.
Skulptur Projekte is a cooperative project of the Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe (LWL) and the city of Münster. The LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur organizes the exhibition. The main sponsors are the German Federal Cultural Foundation and the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe; further sponsors are the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, the Kunststiftung NRW and Brillux GmbH & Co. KG.