"We may not have any fairy-tale castles, but those who look closely will be able to see that a spectacular change is taking place – a change which the RuhrKunstMuseen’s RuhrKunstSzene project also stands for. This project presents artists who were born here, or who now live here, and who have used the Ruhr area as inspiration. Many of them have created awareness of the diverse cultural identity of the Ruhr area on a global level."
Hannelore Kraft, Minister President of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, 2017
Though RUHR.2010 may technically be finished, the project is only just getting started. Thus, any claims that the area's art scene has fallen into a deep slumber following the excitement of the area's nomination as European City of Culture are unfounded. To date, the RuhrKunstMuseen are even more involved than ever: reinforcing, demanding and promoting that which looks set to be a lasting pact for the provision of artistic education, cultural integration and cultural participation. The Ruhr area's application for 2010 European City of Culture was based on the theme "Change through Culture – Culture through Change". The cross-city exhibition, "Mapping the Region", which was put together by the RuhrKunstMuseen, featured themed presentations across 14 exhibition centres in a part of the world known for having one of the most highly concentrated collections of museums, right in the heart of Europe. The next museum-based coup took place in 2014, when the RuhrKunstMuseen put a spotlight on the RuhrKunstSzene project and its unique view of the region, its artistic tradition, heritage and identity.
The concept: flaunt what you have. And, in doing so, discover the beat to which the city of cities dances – a magical melting pot in which art comes together. "With the RuhrKunstSzene exhibition project, the RuhrKunstMuseen present a comprehensive view of current and modern artworks which were significant for the region, which continue to have an effect to this day, and which could develop new power in the future," claimed the speakers for the RuhrKunstMuseen at the time, Hans Günter Golinski and Christine Vogt. This was represented by 50 artworks, displayed simultaneously in 10 museums across 9 cities, which came together to create one harmonious, multicoloured celebration of the current Ruhr art scene. It was a terrific Who's Who of contemporary art. "The artists who were born here understood the important potential for stimulation offered by the Ruhr area and, through their work, have spread the region's cultural identity around the world."
The declaration of a belief in the artistic significance of the Metropolis Ruhr led to actions being taken. The RuhrKunstMuseen were just as convinced back then as they are today that the Ruhr area has more to offer than coal and steel. So why not interpret the local scene as an inspiring catalyst for the structural change taking place in the area and for the reinterpretation of the Ruhr as a cultural boom town? Why not get the artists local to the area involved as visionaries and shaping forces in the creative development of the Metropolis Ruhr as a cultural metropolis? After all, the overview provided by the RuhrKunstSzene demonstrates one thing in particular: the area possesses a great amount of potential for artistic gravity, something which has clearly registered in the cultural awareness of the region.
The eponymous project catalogue illustrates just how diverse, opulent, up-to-date and key for establishing identity the art of the RuhrKunstSzene that was displayed as part of these exhibition was and continues to be. Across 223 pages, the richly-illustrated tome uses both language and images to document the 10-stop exhibition in depth, taking a look back on exhibitions such as "Neue Heimat Ruhrgebiet", "Fotoaugen" or "Subversiver Geist – Fotografien, Filme, Aktionen, Installationen". A wide range of artistic media – from painting to sculpture, photography, installation art, performance art and film – were to be found across the RuhrKunstSzene circuit. A message which could be interpreted as saying: take a look at what the Metropolis Ruhr has to offer in terms of art and creative spirit. And how it has developed an international flair which extends beyond the region. In addition to – and because of – the atmospherically dense, incredibly exciting art scene which has made its home here, the Ruhr area is an area rich in culture.
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