The Futurism of Industrial Cities – 100 Years of Wolfsburg/Nowa Huta - 1The Futurism of Industrial Cities – 100 Years of Wolfsburg/Nowa Huta - 2

The Futurism of Industrial Cities – 100 Years of Wolfsburg/Nowa Huta

[ Project part Wolfsburg ]
As part of “The Futurism of Industrial Cities – 100 Years of Wolfsburg/Nowa Huta”, German and Polish artists discuss visions of future working worlds and forms of society with experts from both countries and residents of both cities and develop artistic works about such visions. The joint work and the insights gained from it deepen mutual understanding. They can moreover generate ideas, for instance concerning the concept of labour, that are of more than local, national, or binational significance. In the first part of the project the results are shown in an exhibition at Kunstverein Wolfsburg.

The artists and their projects

Nowa Huta was planned and built because of a steelworks. Nowadays the plant employs only a fraction of its former labour force. Thus the city’s importance has greatly changed. The biggest employer is now the local market. The relationship between the city of Wolfsburg and the Volkswagen Group has similar roots. Will the future development be similar as well? If Europe’s de-industrialisation proceeds and Volkswagen shifts production to other countries, will official and informal markets then be shaping the face of the city of Wolfsburg? Neil Cummings & Marysia Lewandowska pursue this question in video and photography.

For Volkswagen the sales market in China is many times more lucrative than in Europe. In 2005 VW’s sales rate in China was 29%, and the Group is represented in the country with two joint ventures. This is the background to Folke Köbberling’s work:
It is the year 2039. Wolfsburg no longer exists in Germany. Only its most important buildings and the entire Volkswagen site have been re-erected as a theme park in the Chunguan region in China. Only a milestone reminds of the company’s place of origin. A banner with Chinese characters and a picture of Wolfsburg announces the opening of the theme park on the 100th anniversary of the company’s foundation in Germany.

What is the future for the city? How can something new be developed at all from the existing structures? Will we live in empty, dusty museum cities, not knowing where to go when faced with all this space? Who will control and shape these spaces of the future, when control of space is no longer necessary for economic operations on a global scale and when controlled spaces have molten down to transit corridors and hyper-city islands? Robin Hood?
In these spaces, the city devourer developed by Raumlabor is on the loose. It snatches the old fabric of settlement and city from the ground, slurps it up with relish, and subjects it to a radical process of reconstruction (which is concealed inside the gigantic, colossal machine). At the back of the machine, a new substance is excreted: a kind of newly won primordial slime of civilisation leaves the behemoth; new settlements and cities can emerge from it.

What would be the effects of a future catastrophe or economic crisis in the wake of which “the world as we know it today” (Wallerstein) no longer exists? Self-supply in the cities would gain in importance, the artist Janek Simon claims. Inspired by the lecture on informal economies in Nowa Huta that Alison Sterling gave at the workshop there, he imagines Wolfsburg without Volkswagen and the resulting recourse to pre-modern means of production. For his work “Edible Wild Plants of Lower Saxony” he collects practical knowledge about edible wild plants in Lower Saxony. He passes on this knowledge at the Kunstverein Wolfsburg. He gives lectures, he cooks, and he presents his results in the exhibition.

Ingo Vetter and students of the Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus are developing the parade for the 100th anniversary. They will be decorating the city centre around Kino Imperial for the festivities. The model trolleys are on view at the Kunstverein Wolfsburg. Ten to fifteen trolleys illustrate individual aspects of possible futures in the future perfect. “The simulation of automobile production at the VW plant”, “50 years town twinning between Wolfsburg and Nowa Huta”, or “100 years of pedestrian zone” are possible topics.

Modulorbeat explore the history and possible future of the two cities through interviews with their residents. In the exhibition they will present interview excerpts in multimedia form.

In “Detroit Blues” Silke Riechert addresses the promise of happiness of modern industrial society. The work takes the exhibition as an opportunity to reflect on various key elements of Fordism. Mass production and mass housing were meant to symbolise the dawn of a new era. Technological feasibility and wealth through high sales figures spread the vision of democracy and freedom. But what happens to the promises of modernity in times of betrayed utopias?
Silke Riechert will construct a futuristic, post-industrial model landscape, in which she will present the remnants of the promises of modernity and Fordism. She will add pictures, texts, slogans, and short films to her landscape sculpture and condense the material into a complex scenario. The work functions as an archive that collects authors’, photographers’, and artists’ perspectives on the phenomena of industrial society. It also looks ahead to new experimental ideas of social space and informal economies.
Kunstverein Wolfsburg
Łaźnia Nowa, Cracow-Nowa Huta
Wolfsburg: 10 Dec. 2005 – 19 Feb. 2006
Nowa Huta: 14 Oct. – 12 Nov. 2006
Participating Institutions
Kunstverein Wolfsburg
Łaźnia Nowa, Cracow-Nowa Huta
Goethe-Institut Krakau