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11 Dec 2010

Provocation from province: A Live Gardengnome in Bad Ems

© RheinZeitung edition Koblenz 14.10.2010

A Live Gardengnome in Bad Ems
Art Club Balmoral 03


Art Club Balmoral 03
Kuenstlerhaus Schloss Balmoral
Villenpromenade 11
56130 Bad Ems - Germany

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On October 17th 2010 Kristofer Paetau was awarded the Art Price from the Art Club Balmoral 03 from Bad Ems, Germany for his common proposal with Ondrej Brody 'A living garden gnome' to the contest 'provocation from province'.

Members of the selection committee were Robert Fleck, Intendant of the Bundeskunsthalle Bonn, Prof. Dr. Hilmar Hoffmann, Frankfurt a.M., Prof. Eberhard Bosslet, Dresden, Dr. Danièle Perrier, director Künstlerhaus Schloss Balmoral, Elisabeth Sauer-Kirchlinne, member of the Art Club Balmoral 03 and his president, Wilhelm Zimmermann, Frankfurt a.M.

See the different reactions in the press here.

See the documentation by the artists here.

The Project:

The idea was to invite a dwarf grown actor to stroll through the city of Bad Ems, to visit Kindergartens as well as rest homes and to see how people react. The garden gnome could also be hired be private persons to be photographed with children in private homes.

On the one side, the secretary of State of Rhineland Palatinate denounced the action as discriminating – he did not know at that time that it was enacted by an actor of short size – on the other hand garden gnomes were the attraction of the German Pavillon in Shanghai and seem to be a sign of German identification.

The action which took place from mid of September until the 17th of October was widely accompanied by TV, radio and print media. It showed a wide positive reception of the project so that one might say that the expected provocation was apparently missing and the media also missed the point to question the artistic purpose of the project. This may be due to the fact that the media reflected only the perception of the presence of the garden gnome in the city but did not take into consideration the organized drawing session on the last week-end. Everyone was invited to paint or draw the garden gnome standing as model. On the other side Kristofer Paetau and Ondrej Brody sent a photography to a Chinese academic professional painter, who reproduced it in oil. Both the best drawings from the painting session and the Chinese painting in oil were then exhibited together with the documentary film made by the artists as final issue of the project.

If we add that in spite of the positive resonance in the media, there were much more critical voices than admitted amongst the public and even from some artist in residence at Künstlerhaus Schloss Balmoral, the project was not as shallow as it first might have appeared.