Axel Braun - work and projects

Well Done, Richard!

For the exhibition series CONSTANT CHANGE five artists have worked on questions of identity and authenticity that are related with recent processes of structural change in the Ruhr area (Germany).

My research project is dealing with the instrumentalisation of art to constitute new models of identification. It is concentrating on the difficulties and the unsatisfied expectations that go along with these cultural and political manoeuvers.

It is easy to understand why the Ruhr area - the former district for mining and heavy industries in Western Germany - is inviting Richard Serra to contribute sculptures for public places. Representing a romantic view on the steel industry, he seems like the perfect figure of identification for a region that needs to add cultural values as counterparts for the loss of its industrial identity.

In real life the inhabitants of the Ruhr area always had difficulties to approach the monumental works made from Cor-Ten steel. Graffiti as expressions of anonymous criticism witness these conflicts as well as an election campaign, run by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in 1979. When the city of Bochum decided to acquire Terminal, the first Serra sculpture that had ever been permanently set up in public space, the conservative opposition party tried to polarise against this waste of money. A work of rusty steel could just be insulting to a steel worker - because of its lack of elegance it could never become a symbol of identification.