sans frontieres



Sans Frontieres. Unlimited Edition Global Issue Rucksack. 1991
Art in Ruins

We were surprised when Ute Meta Bauer was there to meet us at the airport when we arrived in Hamburg for a site visit. We knew that Stille Helden were taking part in the D & S Austellung but were surprised to discover that Ute was also working on the show as a curatorial assistant.

It was cold and rainy as she drove us to ‘the artists’ hotel’ where to our disappointment she explained that the curators, Thomas Wulffen and Frank Barth, wanted us to think about an off-site work. The exhibition D & S was to coincide with the next instalment of the city’s Kunst in Öffentlichen Raum initiative and it had been agreed that some of the artists, and in particular collaborative groups, would bring a different approach to public sculpture. We were dismayed, because as far as Art in Ruins is concerned all art is both collaborative and public.

The following morning, Ute picked us up and drove us around Hamburg in the freezing rain in a vain attempt to find a site which would inspire Art in Ruins … ‘ there is the Stock Exchange where Haim Steinbach will place a work; here is an empty shop where General Idea are to make an installation of posters; that is where Presence Panchounette will contribute a sound recording; and here is the Fischmarkt and there is the Rieperbahn …’ and so on.

We grew more and more morose as the day went by. Finally back at the hotel, we drowned our sorrows with duty-free whisky and conjured up a fluxus version of city as sculpture park with an anti guide-map mis-directing the art tourist to a mis-labelled drainpipe, a garden-gate hinge, a red door to a third-floor apartment, a broken traffic sign etc. all designated public sculpture.

The next morning was bright and sunny and we walked through the city to the Kunstverein for a meeting with Thomas. We crossed the ring road and noticed a large abstract metal sculpture on a plinth standing on the grass verge on the other side. As we approached, a tramp-like figure sprang from the bushes and shouted violent abuse at us.

When we met Thomas, we said “this city is full of public sculpture!”
We referred to the conference at the ICA where Frankfurt curator Kaspar König, fresh from the airport, related the story of how, having been invited to curate a Kunst in Öffentlichen Raum project, he astounded the committee by proposing that all the existing post-war public sculpture be removed from its site and exhibited in a huge warehouse. He went on to say that this would allow the city to “breathe” and encourage open debate about which of these sculptures should be returned to the public realm.

Thomas laughed, and went on to say that Richard Prince’s proposal was for the curators to locate and hire a 1950’s pale blue American Chevrolet to be parked outside the Kunstverein every day for a week. The artist would drive visitors to the exhibition around Hamburg whilst he told them second-hand second-rate jokes.
He then asked if we had any idea yet of what we wanted to do. We mentioned the incident with the tramp, and Ute said “Yes, he’s always there in the same place shouting abuse at passers-by. ”
“Well …” we said “Art in Ruins will temporarily appropriate the sculpture and want him paid a salary … to drive people away.”

Of course, it soon became clear that practically there would be not only health and safety but also ethical and moral issues involved with this proposal. Finally, we thought back to spending a whole day trailing around the acclaimed Sculpture Project in Münster 1 in the blazing sun with a guide-map trying not to notice the hordes of other art tourists with backpacks seeking aesthetic stimulation … and who would soon be on their way to documenta 8 in Kassel to continue the search.

So we proposed an Art in Ruins unlimited edition backpack for the global art-tourist 2 … useful for bottled water, sunscreen, exhibition catalogue, and a guide-map for Kunst in Öffentlichen Raum.


Fête Worse than Death 1994

Fête Worse than Death
Hoxton Square London 1994
Sans Frontieres Global Rucksack 1991
Art in Ruins