Valparaiso / Bonn
The Eternal Violin, the Blood Moon and Fireflies
an introduction by Stefan Rummel
Our first research trip together by bike takes us from August-Macke-Platz through Bonn’s northwest. First, we pass through a small commercial zone, with building supply stores, auto dealerships and a colossal car wash, more than two stories high. At the end of the street, our little bike parade takes a left, toward the Tannenbusch district, with its old settlement built on a dune, a nature preserve in the middle of the city, inhabited by exotic ring-necked parakeets, among other creatures. We stop briefly on the pedestrian overpass (Tannenbusch Süd): from here one has a 360° view of Bonn. Trains rush past below. I’m reminded of freight trains thundering past at the main station while one waits in the locomotive wind for departure. We ride on to Neu-Tannenbusch and admire the high-rise estate. Is this normal housing here? There’s something depressing about it too, so we decide to head back towards the Rhine again instead, to the “port of Bonn”, where we watch containers being loaded, large things, though in quantities the mind can grasp. The port has a pleasant-looking old brick building, and when light rain begins to fall, we seek shelter in the port cafeteria (“bistro parthies [sic], international cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere”). Labourers and office workers come by with their lunch pails, to take their lunches à la carte, while some of them stay to dine. We drink coffee and have something to eat.
Back in the saddle, we head on through Graurheindorf, along a “well-kept pedestrian and bike path on the riverbank, equipped with rubbish bins and benches”. We take the ferry to Graurheindorf-Mondorf and disembark at Mondorf’s Rheinterassen, swans and geese are everywhere. We ride on into a wooded area reminiscent of a primeval forest, with swamp-like waterways, and then the mouth of the Sieg appears. From here, we have to cross a broken-down, barricaded bridge across a branch of the river on our bikes, a mini adventure. In the further area of what’s known as the “Sieg floodplain”, the artists make diverse sound and video recordings: the calm of the landscape (as contrast) and the gentle rustling of the trees and the overgrown fields is interesting here. At the end of our landscape tour, we want to cross the Sieg with the old wooden ferry, but, alas, it is out of service. A man tells us of a possibility to cross the river on foot at a certain spot. We are surprised to hear this and try it out, but the water is too deep and the current too strong.
The “Siegaue”, as a floodplain landscape a further nature preserve near the city, is perfectly structured. The landscape is sophisticated and has a flawless appearance somehow. One has the impression that nothing is allowed to become excessively overgrown, aside from select locations. The landscape has the effect of a landscape painting, with occasional expressive brush strokes. Light wilderness through rewilding. A couple of tree stumps are left lying on the ground, allowed to simply rot, giving way to new life. But we are often subject to the same dilemma of the perception of wellbeing.
It is nice, but it also distracts us from the (other) reality, from things that we cannot or do not want to deal with. I feel like this is where art or artistic practice enters the picture. With its (at times playful) means, art can search for this reality. Art doesn’t have to direct, instead it can open/penetrate and develop, art can show what is missing.
The sonic explorers set off on a journey to find out how they can describe this reality (in individual positions or together, as a group) using familiar mechanisms, learned artistic practice or new strategies developed specifically for Bonn.
With Text, Voice and Illustration, Both Installative and Auditory
Inquiry, Research, Performance:
The challenges were varied. For the two German participants, it was more about the inner search and the ease to reflect. The type of place is familiar (though perhaps the type of project is not). For the two Chilean artists, the “exotic German” aspects were certainly interesting, to use them to access their inner world, as was, in the end, the possibility to have complete mobility (on foot and by bike). Figuring out what exactly to tackle and then executing the plans were important driving forces for everyone in the end. The sonic explorers project demanded quite a bit of thought from the individual artists, since it is both a research and an exchange project. The artistic form of the final presentation, including the documentation of the research results, is defined by every single decision made by the individuals involved. What sort of risks can I take, how much can I leave aside (of my own ego), should I work like I always do (play it safe) or seize the opportunity to experiment?…
In her research, Christiane Wien concentrated on the urban space and the feedback loops it triggers, or the information about material that lies within it. On her walks, she found scaffolding on the facades of buildings, with white tarps stretched across them. A typical urban phenomenon, but certainly one to be discovered somehow. Omnipresent and perfectly integrated in our accustomed image. This was the impetus for a first photo series, which was hung on the wall behind her desk in the studio, and accompanied by a self-made city map documenting the locations of the selected facades. In the further course of the residency, she undertook experiments in the field in order to find out more about the materials of wood and aluminium and their interior lives. Using microphones, she eavesdropped on the temporary scaffolding and its support structure that is kept in motion through inner tension, and played the sounds back on loudspeakers. The results were incorporated in the realisation of the subsequent outdoor installation, on the facade of the Künstlerforum. For the exhibition, she built a wooden scaffold with white construction tarps attached on the front side. Instead of a feedback system, she used her own recordings, along with fans that moved the tarps like the wind.