New Patrons


The New Patrons
of Mönchengladbach

Photo: Florian Wagner

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 –

>> News: Kick-off with workshops and films

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 2021 botany lesson

photo: Florian Wagner

Mayor Felix Heinrichs visits the garden

photo: Florian Wagner

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 A Garden with Bridges (Spine, Stomach, Throat, Ear) 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."

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

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


We kick off Ruth Buchanan's work A garden with bridges (spine, stomach, throat, ear) with a three-part workshop series starting in June 2021. In collaborative formats, Ruth Buchanan will introduce the content of the commission and the center points of the patrons group. Topics such as work and working life, health and movement, experience of self and other come up in the workshops and enable a temporary coming together of different groups and people on the Abteiberg in Moenchengladbach.

The events take place as a cooperation of the Kunststiftung im Museum Abteiberg with the Arbeitslosenzentrum Moenchengladbach e.V. and the Stiftisches Humanistisches Gymnasium.

Garden workshop with Caroline Pekle, 2021

Photo: Florian Wagner

Garden workshop with Caroline Pekle, 2021

Photo: Florian Wagner



SATURDAY, 26.6.2021, 10 AM–12 PM AND 1–3PM

10 am–12 pm: Online lecture with Kobe Matthys (Zenne Garden) followed by a conversation.
1–3pm: Visit to the local EWILPA wild plant park.
Free of charge, in German and English, registration at

FRIDAY 3.9.2021, 2–5 PM

Wild plant workshop with Caroline Pekle in the garden of the Arbeitslosenzentrum Moenchengladbach e.V.
Lüpertzender Str. 69, 41061 Moenchengladbach
Free of charge, in German, registration at

These sessions are an opportunity to reconsider the arc of developing a (community) garden, the process that this entails and the relationships this process engenders—relationships toward a community but also toward ourselves. In a location requiring regeneration on many levels, the site as historically loaded with authoritarianism, and as a reflection of a city that has faced radical transition due to changes in industrial processes, late capitalism, and shifts in the way we use our cities.

The workshop welcomes two garden practitioners to share their experiences and knowledge with the unemployment center garden users and their community and connects with local permaculture practitioner Meike Koppmann who leads EWILPA.

Kobe Matthys is an artist from Brussels and a member of the collective Zenne Garden, a regenerative community garden project in a former industrial zone of Brussels. He will offer insight into this process, as well as introduce the concept of a garden charter and user library all of which is grounded in the concept “the knowledge is already here, we just have to engage”. This online session will be complimented by tours through EWILPA, a local project already engaging with this work.

Caroline Pekle is a holistic practitioner living in Northern Bavaria. She will lead a hands-on session where she introduces us to several plants growing on the site and the many benefits they can offer us. We’ll learn how to make nourishing infusions with the plant for ourselves as well as for the garden, how to harvest and dry, and finally how to embed these plants into our diet for access to their diverse benefits.


SATURDAY, 4.9.2021, 10AM–1PM AND 3–6PM

A Gaga/people and Somatic Sequencing workshop with Tanja Saban
Suitable for people from the age of 14 and over. No previous experience required.
Sports hall of the Stiftisches Humanistisches Gymnasium
Abteistraße 17, 41061 Moenchengladbach
Free of charge, in German, registration with indication of the desired time period at This is the same workshop offered at two times.

Expanding on the concepts of regeneration and care, this workshop explores physical awareness and the powerful relationships that can emerge as you tune into your sensory self, networking our physical self with our more abstract psyche and subsequently setting into motion our relationship with our surroundings: physical, cultural, social, and economical. Each iteration of this half day workshop will be structured in two parts Gaga/people and Somatic Sequencing.

Gaga/people is a movement language that offers a framework in which the participants connect with the body and their imagination, experience physical sensations, practice an expanded understanding of agility, encounter explosive power and the joy of movement in an inviting atmosphere that can accommodate all mobility levels. The participants are guided through a series of evocative instructions that sensitize and reinforce the awareness of body sensations. Not dissimilar to developing a garden, this workshop overlays and condenses, creating a multi-sensory experience. The improvisational nature of the research enables each participant to have a very personal connection with Gaga.

The Somatic Sequencing session will expand on this and focus on the way the quality of our perception influences the quality of our movement. We awaken the sensory body and immerse ourselves in our inner landscapes, our anatomy. By visualizing anatomical structures, touching and moving, we explore different body layers and their function. A differentiated perception refines the body awareness and creates space for reorganization and expansion of our movement patterns. We explore where and how movement is initiated, how it continues in the body, how it orchestrates rhythm and textures. Fine listening into our microcosm expands our perception and articulation skills on a variety of scales as we relate to ourselves and the wider contexts in which we function.

Film afternoons at the Museum Abteiberg

Photo: Florian Wagner

Movement workshop "Does my body fit in?"

Photo: Florian Wagner

Movement workshop "Does my body fit in?"

Photo: Florian Wagner


SUNDAY, 19.9.2021, 3 PM

Berwick Street Collective: Nightcleaners, 1975
16mm film, shown as HD video, 90 minutes, OV (English).

Free of charge, registration at
Museum Abteiberg, Abteistraße 27, 41061 Moenchengladbach

SUNDAY, 26.9.2021, 3 PM

Andrea Büttner: What is so terrible about craft? / Die Produkte der menschlichen Hand, 2019
Two-channel video, sound, 34 minutes, OV (German with German subtitles for the hearing impaired)
Donated by Outset Germany_Switzerland, Museum Abteiberg Collection

Rosalind Nashashibi: Vivian ́s Garden, 2017
16mm film, shown as HD video, color/sound, 29:50 minutes, OV (English, German)

Maya Schweizer: Voices and Shells, 2020.
Video, color, 18 minutes, OV (French with English and German subtitles)

Free of charge, registration at
Museum Abteiberg, Abteistraße 27, 41061 Moenchengladbach

This film program brings the concepts of care and physicality as explored in the workshops together by looking at them through the relationships that unfold between our working bodies and our physical environments, or broadly between spatial and temporal parameters of participation in the socio-economic sphere. Presenting a landmark work of British labor politics from the 1970s with recent work by three women filmmakers we begin to access the contingency at stake for our place within our own communities and society at large. These works span the documentary to the intimate, and offer a textured insight into the concept of the working (and thus living and acting) human being. Viewed in a group these works underscore the various historical precedents from which we speak, work, and relate today, and ultimately reveal the tenuousness of impact we have on our contexts and the context on us.

Berwick Street Collective: Nightcleaners

1975, film still

Courtesy Berwick Street Film Collective, Humphry Trevelyan, Mary Kelly, James Scott, Marc Karlin and LUX_London

Maya Schweizer: Voices and Shells

2020, film still

© Maya Schweizer

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