"gestern die stadt von morgen (yesterday the city of tomorrow) – a project where art takes a fresh look at the built urban visions of the future in the 1960s and 1970s in the Ruhr area"
Kay von Keitz, on behalf of the curators of the exhibition project "gestern die stadt von morgen"
Don't look back? Not likely! In 2014, in cooperation with Urbane Künste Ruhr, the RuhrKunstMuseen got an architectural exhibition project off the ground. On the agenda: the networking of the past, present and future of public space – gestern die stadt von morgen. The 3-city, 3-museum circuit posed a series of questions: what are the characteristics of urban planning 2.0? What defined the city of yesterday? What should the city of tomorrow look like? Can the Metropolis Ruhr learn from former visions of the future?
Accomplished, site-specific contemporary arts which explore the art of reality in the form of striking architecture from the 1960s/70s – from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum to the towers of Marl's town hall – were invited to take part. "What is life like in and around architecture which is based on utopian ideas, whose aesthetic follows futuristic concepts, which came up against the raw reality of the present during its planning, construction and use – and which, 40 or 50 years after its creation, has since become a striking part of the latest chapter in our architectural history?"
gestern die stadt von morgen provoked questions: should the concrete buildings, often considered outmoded, be demolished or turned into museum pieces? Should they be converted or restored? Where constantly-expanding cities are dealing with an increasingly pressing need for living space, what is to be done about our once-celebrated architectural legacy? What value is placed on Ruhr Modernism – the former "miracle born from the rubble" – in the present?
Together with Urbane Künste Ruhr, the Kunstmuseum Mülheim an der Ruhr, the Kunstsammlungen der Ruhr-Universität Bochum: Campusmuseum and the Skulpturenmuseum Glaskasten Marl pushed ahead with a brainstorming experiment which took the cities of Mülheim, Bochum and Marl as examples. The aim: to demonstrate how today's awareness of aesthetics is reflected in how we deal with history. No matter whether you look at the former utopias as a nostalgic, a futurist or a critic, the fact remains that Ruhr Modernism made the Ruhr area what it is, and that, as a testimony to our cultural history, it is worth protecting.
gestern die stadt von morgen brought young art into the discussion for visual research purposes – to discover what a retro future on which identity is established could mean. It took an exciting look at when, why, for what reason and whether visionary architectures have a historical expiry date. Accompanying interventions carried out in the public space by Martin Kaltwasser, the KONSORTIUM group of artists, Michaela Melián, Denise Ritter, Corinna Schnitt and Nico Joana Weber provided some individual perspectives on the matter. These used temporary projects to dissect the former utopian architectures in the most varied of ways. Brutalism? Retro charm? Concrete monstrosity versus futuristic building? Don't look back? Together with the exhibitions which were displayed across 3 RuhrKunstMuseen at the same time and which took the growing significance of urban space since the 1960s/70s as a theme, the gestern die stadt von morgen campaign uncovered one maxim which rang particularly true: there's no future without the past.