CURRENTLY #04

© Atelier Ameisenberg

From the series »The irradiated hill«: Sirop de muguri de brad, Venus de Piatra N. (sandstone venus) #02

Back in the south of Germany, in Stuttgart, in May 2021, where the only fir tree in our studio garden is taller than all the houses around it, including our house. The tops of the fir tree were ripe for making the annual cough syrup. As I was plucking the tops, I heard a voice calling, getting louder and louder. Which I'm not sure if it was the voice getting louder or my growing attention. It was the neighbor from the house across the street, a white detached house with three very long white hanging strips of fabric. "What are you picking, what for, what are you doing with it?" I was surprised. For I thought that most people in this area were more or less influenced by anthroposophical thought, which made me think that this would give many access to the medicinal plant world. I was wrong about that. The beaming neighbor had never heard of the fir tip syrup before. It was not that I felt close to the area because of my knowledge of medicinal plants. Now, however, I felt like an outsider and figuratively saw myself almost in the role of the sister from the fairy tale The Six Swans by the Brothers Grimm, picking nettle after nettle with charcoal on my face and hiding in the dark. At the same time she told me which tea–brewed from her own daisies–beautifies the skin. She asked me for a recipe, I brought her an unusual variant for me, with honey as a substitute for the sugar, as she wished. As a thank you, I received leeks from my own garden, freshly harvested. In a sense, the fir syrup was born from this encounter, according to my recipe, the neighbor now enjoys her own syrup from these same fir tips from time to time.

Înscenarea lui Venus!

Venus de Piatra Neamț

CURRENTLY #03

Zugang S-Bahn Schwabstrasse, © SOUP

POROUS STUTTGART

by Kurt Grunow

The construction of the Schwabstrasse S-Bahn station in Stuttgart in 1974 can be seen as a significant addition to the stock of ‘porous’ structures in the urban fabric. This is not only because of the 1.5 km long underground turning loop branching off from the 5 km long Hasenberg tunnel south of the S-Bahn station, but also because of the extensive underground spaces created during the construction of the S-Bahn station, which is located 27 meters below the road surface. During the completion of the platform area, which was built using the cut-and-cover method, a total of three mezzanine floors were constructed on top of each other at the southern exit, which were probably created solely for the purpose of backfilling the enormous excavation pit, since the rooms were never used by the DB. The middle of these floors has a floor area of 450 square meters, the other two are probably of similar size. In other underground railroad stations of the city there are also such empty spaces designated as warehouses; sometimes they are given to groups or individuals who develop recreational activities in them, such as rock music or even railroad modeling. Model railroaders in particular find good working conditions in these capillaries of the city, because surrounded by real railroad operations, they can work all the more motivated and passionately on their downscaling to scale.
One of the most amazing activists in this field has probably been the railroad employee Wolfgang Frey–from 1992 until his early death in 2012, he built a model of the main station with all the adjoining track systems and urban areas as far as Bad Cannstatt in one direction and the west of Stuttgart in the other in that mezzanine C2 in the Schwabstrasse S-Bahn station. The fidelity of this 1:160 scale model layout is so overwhelming that SWR devoted several broadcast segments to it, press and magazines reported extensively, and in 2017 the layout was sold by the model builder's daughter to Herrenberg, where it can now be viewed by the public. However, one central component of the layout remained on the mezzanine floor: a 1:1 scale replica of Wolfgang Frey's workstation for controlling the huge model layout, modeled on the main signal box of Stuttgart station. Begleitbüro SOUP has given its place of origin the name Fortress of Loneliness and there initiated an artistic examination of the reasons and abysses of this parallel universe.

We see the model world of Wolfgang Frey as a replica of the city of Stuttgart in close connection to the mock Brazil. The question of what can be left out of Stuttgart, or how Stuttgart can be made into a city that is confusingly similar to itself, is long since become a political question against the background of current urban developments.

CURRENTLY #02

© Atelier Ameisenberg

From the series »The irradiated hill«: Sirop de muguri de brad, Venus de Piatra N. (sandstone venus) #01

A forest in the Carpathians, east of Transylvania, a mixed forest, densely covered with numerous beeches. We have been there a maximum of four times, probably always in the spring, probably because the winter months sometimes seemed interminable and I had the feeling that it was summer when we hiked there.
The first part of the trail was always the same, crossing the waterworks on the Bistritza River, which has its source in the Rodna Mountains. I found crossing the waterworks an adventure and a challenge, as it was very noisy, deep and dangerous. We could see the water under our feet. Comparable to fights against monsters, which we also reenacted on the way there, the water was a dragon that did not spit fire but water, which was much more dangerous for us than the power of fire. Water sweeps away everything, even whole villages with their houses. Fire, on the other hand, could be extinguished. In contrast, floods were often impossible to fight, not in this part of the world.
To find the fir tops, we walked for hours. With our short legs, it seemed timelessly long, so we felt like the dwarves from Snow White.

Arrived at this place, far from roads, people, animals, rivers and lakes, just close to the sky, we started picking the tops. From time to time we hid, because we could smell bear droppings. Not only bears should be watched out for, but also larger amounts of water have fallen down to the valley many a time. Such an incident happened once during an archaeological excavation near Piatra Neamt. The huge floods, which forced the scientific team to interrupt their excavations, can be described in retrospect as a favorable coincidence, since they brought to light one of the oldest sandstone figures, named after the place where it was found, the Venus of Piatra Neamt. Its age is estimated at about 17,000 years. Although there was an archaeological museum in the place, the sculpture was taken 368 km away, to the south of the country.

Currently #01

48.7657713, 9.1633892 © Sophie Bergemann

Welcome to our digital sketchbook

In its first edition, CURRENT dedicates itself to porosity in – and of, the city, in so naming potential gaps in urban planning as well as gaps in the collective consciousness. This blog accompanies the ideas, thoughts and sketches of all participants while exploring the meanings, interpretations and associations of porosity as a concept.

Cities are in motion. They are in constant flux. Streetscapes ever changing their facades, momentarily generating anew while being torn down in the next. The urban–squares, streets and houses are intensively used, revived and negotiated–they are the containers of our everyday lives. The claim for a complete, or finished city, remaining perpetually unfulfilled.

CURRENT uses the city of Stuttgart as a model to visualize the present. Here, large-scale construction projects depict future scenarios, with the promise of an ideal and completed city. Gaps, wastelands, empty spaces, the unplanned, the fragile, the provisional or even the ruinous, are perceived as obstacles to their myths, because they imply the unfinished. Crises, however, disrupt the once considered, straightforward plan. Uncertainty encourages eventualities, that call for a constructive approach to the unplanned, demanding cohesion more than ever.

Art has the potential for providing the new and critical perceptions of the existing, the everyday and the self-evident. Art deliberately introduces new elements into space, either by making connections or by fostering conflict in the reflection of the every day. A distance to the concrete planning disciplines–the imaginary, as a gap–is necessary for the planning and development of the city.

This blog is the digital sketchbook, for publishing the interpretations and associations of the participating artists and partners, providing the theoretical, speculative or academic aspects behind the idea, or respectively the concept of porous space.

Recognizing the urban as porous, as means of productively engaging with the unplanned and the permeable–within the continually incomplete city.

Current —
Art and urban space

9.—19. Sept / Stuttgart