What’s been pissing me off lately is the feeling that art no longer has a true impact on society. On everyone, not just collectors, sellers, buyers and critics, but on regular non-art folk. Well, the Leuphana University, Rik Reinking and the city of Lüneburg, Germany certainly challenged my mindset.
Lüneburg took it to the next level. The city is over 1000 years old and is so quaint and beautiful that you feel like you’re in Disneyland without the kitsch. So, Rik and the Leuphana University did some brainstorming and organising over a year and what they came up with is total insanity: First week of the new school year. 1 – 9 October 2009. 1,200 freshmen, 35 international street artists, 30 film experts and 360 video clips…
Rik Reinking and the Leuphana had invited 35 street artists to conquer 35 huge walls in the center of Lüneburg. To name just a few artists: Daniel Man, TILT, DAIM, Herakut, Brad Downey, Herbert Baglione, ZEVS, Pius Portmann, Boxi, Victor Ash, Swoon, Faith 47, etc. Fuck me. All the first year students assisted the artists with their work. The students were grouped into teams of four and each team was given a video camera with the assignment of making a ninety second film about the event. These films were then judged by experts and ‘graded’. You will find everything in detail here.
‘Lüneburger’ – TILT / Image courtesy of Just.
Anyway. They took it to the next level. It was extraordinary. The organisation was meticulous. As mentioned in a previous post, I was invited to be exhibited in the town hall where Rik was exhibiting a selection of his collection, curated by the students. I was picked up by a limousine at Hamburg airport and chauffeured to the university compound. There I met Rik and Holm Keller, chancellor of the university. Wicked guy and extremely passionate about the project. Then a big press conference right away with tons of media, interviews and back showing… Pretty wild. Then followed a guided media tour around the city. Lüneburg was on fire, even though it was relentlessly pouring with rain. There were groups of students with cameras running around everywhere, yellow and blue cranes with working artists on them had taken over the city center. Everyone was discussing it. Old, young, rich, poor. Many loved it, many hated it. Full frontal art confrontation. It was out of this world. There was no way to escape the omnipresence of it all. It was the real thing. The artworks were stunning, the artists were humble and full of praise for the other artists pieces. No competition, just passion and devotion. Then I had lunch with Rik and headed to my excellent hotel. At night was the opening in the town hall (previous entry) and a superb reception afterwards.
I feel so honoured that I was allowed to take part in this event. I was there for two days, but they resparked my fire for art. I think that Lüneburg was very courageous to do something like this. The whole thing was like an invasion. A surreal and colorful flash. The contrast between street art in this ancient city was marvellous. Like those silly soccer Champion’s League events, something like this should be done every year in cities around the world. Being a follower is easy, but real innovation is a tough gig. Especially in unknown territory. A bold art step was made in Lüneburg and I really hope that it was a precedent to many more celebrations of this kind.
Victor Ash and assistants hard at work. Image courtesy of Just.
Celebration is definitely the right word. I want to thank The Leuphana University, Rik Reinking, Holm Keller, Nathalie, Ines Raub, Muriel Staub, Daniel Man, Claus Weber, Dimitris Tzamouranis, Rebekka Baidanoum, Eike Gräf and all the amazing artists, students and people I met and saw again. Vielen, vielen Dank. – TIM
‘Demokratie ist lustig’ – Joseph Beuys