So, a ‘Stadtzeichen’ (city marking) is pretty big…
— Yes, quite so, but as far as land art is concerned, surely nothing out of the ordinary. Land art is big… Berlin is too.
A brief explanation. ‘Stadtzeichen’ Berlin that is a drawing projected on to the city, an outline that is pegged out in the city with marks, plotting its course. How many of these marks are there?
— That’s right. Altogether, there are 29, each one representing a particular point of the outline. The markings feature an image of the ‘Stadtzeichen’ plus additional info. Size and orientation of the projection in relation to the city as a whole so become clear. Anyone who comes across such a marking can therefore localise themselves in relation to the city mark and visualise the Stadtzeichen within the boundaries of the city.
By the way, the placement of a marking is no way arbitrary. The drawing was turned into a b-spline. Now, each marking represents the position of one the nodal point, defining the spline. The location of the points is fixed in relation to one another. Hence, no liberties could be taken in regard to the placement of the marks within the city. This didn’t exactly make execution of the project any easier. One of the markings, for example, falls on a cemetry, while another can be found directly in front of the state office of criminal investigations. It wasn’t planned but rather came about that way. I actually liked it that such parts of the city were integrated as well, as a city doesn’t function without them.
This is, what it’s all about, making the functioning of the city palpable and also how you fit in here yourself , with your all your daily exercises of making do. The actual phenomenon is not the ‘Stadtzeichen’ itself, but rather the play with the designated space. The city mark is a substructure, a framework.
What kind of drawing is it?
— Well, it resembles an anthropomorphic unicellular organism, I guess. Attributions and interpretations are ultimately left to the observer. It is of course true that this mark (I prefer to call it that) can’t be readily integrated in an urban environment dominated by signs and signets etc, this provokes a certain disorientation, too. However, projecting the mark onto the level of the street creates a geographical context, where it can be ‘read’ differently, namely as a border.
Let me ask – a border, …of what?
— The Stadtzeichen is initially a foreign bodywithin the municipal area. It is terra incognita, until you adopt it by integrating it into your conception of the city. How this happens depends on the observer.
Is there not a more authorative interpretation, is it really that subjective?
— Sure enough, art is subjective, yet not a private affair or a private language. However, the discourse on art, as revealing as it can be, is ultimately nothing but a theoretical superstructure. At least, art criticism reveals that art can put common conceptions and perceptions to the test. Broad agreement is not desirable here, in my opinion.
You work anonymously, why?
— Yes, sometimes I do, sometimesI don’t. With regard to the ‘Stadtzeichen’ project, its public nature was supposed to lose itself in anonymity and not lapse back on to a single person. The face of this work is in a way its own signet, a face comprising the main boroughs of the city and its people. There is no reason for the creator to come to the fore. Therefore, here anonymity is also preferable because of formal considerations.
Apart from the juridical aspects….?
— … apart from these.
How does this project differ from others, such as the Uffington White Horse or the land art of Jim Denevan, for example?
— Jim makes these large abstract sand drawings. His landscapes, be it desert or beach, are an ideal substrate for these, because of their natural properties. A surface seeded with configurations, pervading space and causing the observer to shrink. But the drawing itself does not signify anything, it is just that, a structure.
Not so of course, the white horse of Uffington. Initially, this landmark served a religious or political purpose, it is not known for sure. Later romantic interpretation in the 18th and 19th century led to the white horse frequently being copied in England. This is illustrating the differences already. The possibility of a copy arises from the arbitrariness of the subject. A situation-specific work such as an installation, for example, cannot so be repeated, if it refers to specific temporal or local conditions or, as in this case, builds on given urban structures.
The ‘Stadtzeichen’ project requires, as the name indicates, the urban landscape. Incidentally, even from a technical point of view this is a necessity. An adequately accurate placement of the markings would have been, at least for us without access to cm perfect GPS, impossible, had we not been able find our bearings by referring to urban structures. Over and above that, the Stadtzeichen functions in an urban environment, because its enclosing form makeas the latter apear as a kind of metaorganism. That is a romantic approach too, I believe. Romantic of the city. I’ve always found cities more romantic than the countryside.
You’ve said the ‘Stadtzeichen’ project is to be continued. What’s next?
— Similar Stadtzeichen in other cities, some of them abroad, are planned. When and where is not definitive yet.