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The Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt Brings Art Into the Street for the Third and Last Time
Aleksandra Mir, The Big Umbrella, 2003/2004. Installation view. Playing the City headquarters © Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, 2011. Photo: Sascha Rheker.

FRANKFURT.- From August 11 to August 25, 2011, more than fifteen international artists will occupy the inner city of Frankfurt with their actions, performances, and installations. Art will take to the street again, as it did last summer and the summer before. Playing the City 3 will focus on public space as a venue for artistic activities involving the city and its inhabitants in a variety of ways again. Each day will see new participatory projects by such artists as Tania Bruguera, Minerva Cuevas, Jacob Dahlgren, Tim Etchells, Christian Jankowski, San Keller, Kommando Agnes Richter, Levent Kunt, Aleksandra Mir, Eileen Perrier, Sans façon, and Upper Bleistein.

Political manifestations, demonstrations, or markets and stands specially organized by artists will help carry on the discussion on the collective, free and designable space, its limits, and not least its inhabitants’ involvement. In parallel to the activities unfolding in the city, the project team will do its work in public in headquarters set up in the Schirn – feeding the website, answering questions about the exhibition, and organizing and documenting all activities. Playing the City 3 can also be followed on the Internet as a digital extension of public space: the webpage, created especially for the project, assembles videos, texts, and pictures and comprises a calendar of events and a blog. Embedding the blog in social media networks links the hub beyond its immediate context – which makes the website a catalogue, an exhibition forum, and a discussion platform all in one.

In a rapidly growing, globally operating art world the importance and advantages of an artistic practice based on participation and active involvement continue to increase. Pursuing these tendencies, the exhibition project Playing the City 3 strives to take certain twentieth-century approaches some steps further. Like in the days of the Dadaist and Fluxus avant-gardes, artists maintain a turn in the relationship between production and reception, whose boundaries increasingly blur. More and more, the role of the artist is that of a producer involving the viewer in the genesis of the work. This form of art, known as Collaboration Art, is primarily grounded in people’s relationships. It explores and develops models of social and political change. Since the 1990s, this idea of a social turn in the arts has given rise to manifold forms of interactive, cooperative and interdisciplinary methods whose gamut Playing the City 3 outlines.

The interest of artists and curators is aimed at site-specific projects which are also limited in terms of their duration. This entails a redefinition of place as situation or condensation of different, yet interlinked social, economic, cultural and political processes. The works categorized as Relational Art present themselves as a stopover, a place where you look around, talk to others, and move on.

The works presented in the context of the exhibition project Playing the City 3 show a wide range of what art in public space can be today. The performance Demonstration, 16th of August 2011, Frankfurt by the Swedish artist Jacob Dahlgren will change our traditional understanding and image of manifestations. Instead of political banners and appeals, the participants will confront us with abstracts works they have painted in the vein of Olle Bærtling (1911–1981), a representative of Swedish Modernism. The resultant “tableau vivant” will surprise passersby and perhaps motivate them to join in.

The Cuban performance and installation artist Tania Bruguera has also chosen a political format for her project. She will bring her long-time project Immigrant Movement International from Queens, New York to Europe for the first time to promote a new society together with local groups and associations in the form of a manifestation on Frankfurt’s Römerberg. The Munich-based guerilla knitting group Kommando Agnes Richter will organize an open knitting workshop in the context of a “secret operation” in Frankfurt’s Museum für Kommunikation and then give an example of their knitting strategy in a special venue in the city center together with the workshop’s participants. The Swiss artist San Keller’s Markt der Freiwilligen (The Volunteers’ Market) will offer an opportunity to meet voluntary unpaid attendants in charge of stands who will deal in free will, selling voluntariness to their customers.

On Frankfurt’s famous Schillermarkt, passersby will meet the photographer Eileen Perrier asking people into her photo studio – which recalls the classical studio of the nineteenth and early twentieth century – for a special kind of portrait session complete with historical headrest. If people in Frankfurt start behaving differently all of a sudden in the days of Playing the City 3, they might be following the British artist Tim Etchells’ instructions. Titled Ways Out, his new work is comprised of a series of postcards with twenty instructions playfully inviting viewers to change their usual conduct. The public will also be surprised at an ice cream cart offering the flavors Body, Archive, Spectacle, and Memory. Tim Etchells asked the Italian ice cream maker to talk to the art critic Osvaldo Castellari and curator Robert Pinto and translate four crucial terms of the contemporary art discourse into different flavors.

This extraordinary ice cream can already be tasted at the opening of Playing the City 3 in the Schirn Kunsthalle on August 11, 2011 from 7 p.m. on. The film on the ice cream documenting the conversation between ice cream maker and critic will be screened as the first contribution to the project at the Playing the City 3 headquarters. The women artists’ collective Upper Bleinstein also show their work Die drei Croissantfabrikanten aus Upper Bleistein zeigen, was sie gebaut haben (The Three Croissant Manufacturers from Upper Bleistein Present What They Have Built) on the evening of the opening, inviting visitors to activate it. The three artists from Mainz will transform the so-called “Table” outside the Schirn Kunsthalle into a building with a greenhouse on its roof. The structure will astound people with its exuberant and absurd efficiency that can be put to the test by the opening guests and passersby.

All activities of Playing the City 3 will be documented in the form of films and will leave their traces on the Internet. Rounding off the project, a DVD presenting all works will be produced.

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