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11 Sep 2012

Installation / Public Space / Munich


TOP VIEW 29.53ft.
Nevin Aladag & Beate Engl


Art in Public Spaces 13. September 2012 Opening at 8 pm - 23.September 2012 Rindermarkt Munich

Simone Schulte-Aladag

City of Munich
Rindermarkt München
Munich - Germany

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TOP VIEW 29.53 FT.

Some people can recognize a city with their eyes closed. The noises of passing cars, the babble of human voices, the rhythm of steps on asphalt. 'Every city has its own musical language,' asserts Nevin Aladag. The Berlin-based artist has already experimented with everyday sounds in public spaces, coalescing them into percussive works of music in her video trilogy City Language. In Istanbul, she invited people of all ages to clap out a rhythm with their hands as she filmed them with a video camera. From the individual film sequences she then composed a sound-film collage to pay homage to the city.

And how does Munich sound? What are the rhythms of people in the Bavarian state capital? And how can one involve citizens in a participatory project in public space? How can the urban complexion of a city be recast through acoustic and spatial change?

In collaboration with the Munich-based artist Beate Engl, Aladag seeks to fathom these questions. The two artists have known each other since their student days in Olaf Metzel's class at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, and with fellow students, ten years ago, they have already realized Café Helga/Galerie Goldankauf, a joint artistic-curatorial project.

In her artistic work, Beate Engl often refers to materials of political propaganda, such as speakers' platforms, megaphones and red flags, which she then recodes. In Cologne in 2010, she created a sculpture in public space consisting of a light-organ connected to two megaphones. The work's form was reminiscent of the Radio-Orator, a Gustav Klucis piece from the 1920s. But instead of political propaganda issuing from the loudspeakers, the Cologne neighborhood residents could hear a potpourri of favorite songs that they had previously chosen.

Out of their own individual artistic approaches, Nevin Aladag and Beate Engl developed their collaborative multimedia project Top View 29.53 ft. for a public place in Munich, a work that includes both participatory elements and a concrete dialogue with the location.
Inspired by the huge advertising billboards often found on the major arteries and building roofs of international metropolises, Engl designed a framework approximately nine meters tall for a display featuring a video work by Nevin Aladag. The framework's shape derives not just from technical or site-specific factors, but asserts itself as an autonomous sculpture in the urban environment. Many parts of the skeleton have no structural significance; they project as chaotic elements from the otherwise compact form. The intentionally improvised appearance of the temporary construction evokes associations not only of overburdened architects, but also of the failure of utopian architectural projects such as Tatlin's Monument to the Third International.

For the video, Nevin Aladag approached people of different ages, ethnicities, sexes, and social classes in the center of Munich and asked them to perform a few dance steps for the camera. Although the people in the film remain anonymous, and one sees little more than their shoes and the movements of their feet, even these tell a lot about people's identities. Aladag composed some fifty of the filmed sequences into a loop whose sound is made up of heels clicking and soles scraping on the pavement of Munich's sidewalks and squares. The film is projected on an LED display like the ones typically used in mass advertising. The work's title, Top View 29.53 ft., refers to the framework's actual height and also alludes, with the English unit of measurement, to the feet that are visible on the display.

The artists consciously chose the Rindermarkt, whose terraced fountain already offers a kind of grandstand situation, as the place to set up their collaborative multimedia project. 'We looked for a place that had an urban structure, but was also a place where people hang out,' Engl explains. On this busy square, the dancers' rhythms interweave with the ambient city sounds in a summery sonic tapestry.

Cornelia Gockel