Rückpass ins Leben / Paradoxien der Öffentlichkeit

"The concept for this projected art intervention "Back-pass to Life" engages with the ongoing discourse about the relationship between the public and the private under the specific conditions of an extended and decentralised urban landscape. In such locations, due to the increasing interpenetration of the public and the private spheres, people appear to be getting more alike, including across communities, not least because all areas of life are becoming increasingly standardised through the influence of industry and the mass media. In a parallel development contemporary society is at the same time strongly marked by a process of individualisation: to a large extent the desire to be unique determines social structures.

Taking these ideas as a starting point, Andreas M. Kaufmann has developed a participatory artwork in which he develops a model of "art transfer" for the entire region of the Ruhr utilising the main arteries of the road system as visual catalysts.

Andreas M. Kaufmann's concrete proposal is to create a pattern from glowing monochrome circles; the pattern is stuck onto the cars of commuters in a particular way, and from this a characteristic aesthetic effect develops. The pattern is based on a grid of grey horizontal and yellow diagonal lines. Every second circle has the picture of an artwork printed on it which is found in one of the many public art collections in the Ruhr. Each artwork is only used once on the circular stickers; in this way the circle is individualised, and thus also the car participating in the project that carries it. As many cars (and obviously their owners) as possible should participate so that the circles displaying the artworks are widely distributed over the entire region.

Conceptually the planned art intervention takes up the theme of trends toward individualisation and standardisation, which are mainly experienced as contradictions, and summarises this in a fleeting and temporary image. The means of private passenger transport becomes part of an artwork in which uniformity and distinct character, individual and group, freedom and dependence, take on form and are highlighted as issues. The commuters' patterns of movement, for example, in an east-west or west-east direction, mark the fact that these disparate communities that make up the Ruhr region are parts of a unit that is still a functioning sense of cultural identity.

"Back-pass to Life" visualises the relationships between people, who seeming to be increasingly alike but emphasise their individuality, by using a pattern of standardised basic forms. However, the pattern that arises is not repetitive, like the pattern on textiles, for example; the similarity is only apparent; analogous to human bodies, which for all their similarity in appearance are never the same.

Andreas M. Kaufmann has designed a transitory archive of images from the Ruhr's art collections which travels around the region's infrastructure network and exhibits these artworks in a standardised context. The observers perception is constantly manipulated, albeit almost imperceptibly, by being offered this novel system of symbols or code.

The artwork will only slowly penetrate the consciousness of the unprepared users of the urban and regional transport networks. They will begin to reflect upon what they have seen when they become aware that these travelling pictures are not isolated phenomena and they do not pursue a clearly defined purpose or serve a particular interest.

Finally, perhaps people will come to the conclusion that the marked vehicles themselves function as markers; as indicators that point to a cultural identity tied to a specific location which they had not consciously realised was there.

Nina Hülsmeier: Andreas M. Kaufmann. Rückpass ins Leben. In: Paradoxien des Öffentlichen. Über die Selbstorganisation des Öffentlichen, ed. Söke Dinkla and Karl Jansen (Nürnberg: Verlag für Moderne Kunst, 2008), p. 128f.