New Patrons

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The New Patrons
of Mönchengladbach

Photo: Jan Hoehe

The New Patrons of Mönchengladbach

Patrons*innen: Pupils and teachers of the Stiftisches Humanistisches Gymnasium Mönchengladbach, Team and visitors of the Arbeitslosenzentrum Mönchengladbach,

Commission: We are commissioning a project in the garden of the unemployment centre, which makes visible the claim to social opening on the Abteiberg and the reflection on the social roots of the city.

Mediators*in: Kathrin Jentjens,

Artists*in: Ruth Buchanan,

Cooperation Partners and Sponsors: Federal Cultural Foundation,

Duration: 2018 –

In Mönchengladbach, the headmaster of the Stiftisches Humanistischen Gymnasium (HUMA) met with employees of the neighbouring Arbeitslosenzentrum Mönchengladbach e. V. – a community centre for unemployed and people in precarious life situations – during a round table discussion.

As organizations who both border on the Abteiberg park, they discovered a common interest: together they want to transform the garden located at the rare of the community centre, which had previously been hardly used, into a place to meet. The new spot is supposed to be not just for the students of the school and the users of the community centre, but should be open for the entire city.

Team work in the garden

Photo: Jan Hoehe

HUMA pupils

Together with the mediator Kathrin Jentjens they developed the idea of an artistic project that would open up the garden towards the surrounding area. In addition, the community centre for the unemployed offers the shared use of the garden to the grammar school. This unusual long-term cooperation refers to the strong social traditions of the city, which are also embedded within artistic discourse. HUMA will integrate the garden into the school's project work. Participants of the HUMA Gardening workshop will work with staff and the users of the community centre on the landscaping of the area.

The Berlin-based New Zealander Ruth Buchanan is leading the artistic project. She proposes to literally build bridges and create connections between the garden and the urban environment. Her design envisages architectural interventions that provide new access to the site, creating both community and retreat. A bridge, a ramp, a spiral staircase and a pavilion create a sensation of arrival and actively accomodate a diverse range of being together in public space.

Draft, front view

Ruth Buchanan with Fynn Morten Heyer, 2020

What is created this way is intended to benefit the urban society, which here on the Abteiberg, in the centre of the city and directly adjacent to Hans-Jonas-Park, finds numerous public institutions of education and culture, but hardly any connections between them, little public life and only a few places that invite people to spend time together.

In her works, Buchanan investigates how architecture and space affect the body, movement, interaction and self-perception and examines the power structures underlying spatial encounters. At the Abteiberg, she assigns a body part and a colour to each of the architectural elements. In this way she refers to the physical component of her work and at the same time makes local references.

Ruth Buchanan visiting the New Patrons of Mönchengladbach

Photo: Georg Beer

Draft, back view

Ruth Buchanan with Fynn Morten Heyer, 2020

The tongue pink spiral staircase is the throat and refers to the access to the inside of the body. The yellow bridge overcomes a wall to the adjacent music school and lies against it like a listening ear. Its sulphur colour is reminiscent of a pigment from the collection of the textile technical school and thus also of the former bleaching meadows at this location. The pavilion with kitchen is the stomach and bears the turquoise-green of medicine, i.e. of care and concern. And a purple ramp is the backbone. In the often used colour of the international women's movement, it contrasts the history of the site as the former home of the male Hitler Youth with a feminist impulse.

Ruth Buchanan says: "The process of renewal is central to maintaining a healthy body. This project works so well because it does just that: it creates paths of renewal – and diverse connections."

Pupils of the HUMA school

Photo: Jan Hoehe

Karl Boland and Karl Sasserath (unemployment centre) with Thomas Hollkott (HUMA) sign the commission

© Neue Auftraggeber / Tim Gorinski

The responsible social cooperation is one of the great traditions of the city of Mönchengladbach.

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