If you go on a journey… An immaterial Project by Asier Peréz González & Hinrich Sachs

Jan Winkelmann

Leipzig is participating in the international EXPO2000 with four large-scale, so-called ‘decentralized’ projects. Compared to the almost daily media coverage of what is happening in Hanover, these appear somewhat secondary. Perhaps this is due to the fact that they are not like the other ambitious exhibits along the lines of “higher, faster, better”, but rather, and above all, are characterized by more long-term measures aimed at structural change and redevelopment. The Leipzig projects include the renaturalization of the prior open-cut mines at Cospuden and the conversion of the Institute for the Preservation of Books, the latter attempting to halt, with the latest innovative technology, the threatening disintegration of countless books and thus the subsequent loss of a significant cultural heritage. These examples are, and it is in their very nature, less spectacular and by far not as compatible in terms of visitors than the churning machine at the world fair in Hanover. This has been programmed to function with optimum efficiency and, as we now know, will not attract the prognosticated number of visitors necessary to cover expenditures. On the contrary. The two conceptual approaches mentioned here hardly seem related at all, and thus it is not surprising that the liaison between the EXPO cities of Leipzig and Hanover is, albeit one of mutual respect, not one of deeper spiritual brotherhood.

This is the point at which the two artists Hinrich Sachs and Asier Perez Gonzalez begin to become interesting. Their project for “Neues Leben” seeks to interconnect various institutions and fields of activity that originally have very little in common, so as to consciously create the possibility of not being able to define experiences one usually associates with art.

In cooperation with the EXPO2000 regional office in Leipzig and the local newspaper “Leipziger Volkszeitung”, the two artists are running the ‘EXPO2000 Contest’. Participants need to answer ten questions on the EXPO projects in and around Leipzig. Correct entries are submitted to the final draw for ten prizes of a 3-day trip to Hanover to visit the world fair. To reach a wider public, the competition and its prizes are publicized in the LVZ local supplement. Apart from media coverage (see “Neues Leben Newsletter #3” and the respective websites of the participating institutions), competition forms are also available at the “Neues Leben” project locations, the GfZK Leipzig and the EXPO2000 information counter at the Leipzig train station. The work thus raises public interest in the Leipzig EXPO projects.

The prizes themselves are the main objective of the project. The artists prepare information material, organize the journey to EXPO2000 in Hanover, and accompany the winners on it. However, in this capacity, Perez Gonzalez and Sachs are not simply hosts or tour guides. They serve to mediate between the winners themselves and the EXPO exhibits. It is unnecessary to stress that the participants will not receive a guided tour as they would otherwise have been offered. During the three days of their stay, the winners will be taken around the EXPO by the artists according to their own personal views and points of interest. The participants’ personal encounters are nonetheless the vital result of their brief coexistence within the group and of its inherent mode of perception. Communication is thus part of personal experience. Ideally, everyone will have a unique, memorable time blending reality and personal perception. A journalist will accompany the artists and prize-winners to write a summary later published in the LVZ.

The project by Perez Gonzalez and Sachs addresses processes of communication. It takes place within the field of tension between public and private experience, balancing publicity/media coverage on the one hand and personal reflection on the Leipzig EXPO projects/winning the prize on the other. Within this polarity, various forms of interplay evolve. Private-public and collective-individual dichotomies as well as the duality of the two EXPO locations of Hanover and Leipzig interrelate in different ways. Ultimately, transposing these to and via the media culminates in an unusual form of public exposure.

Translated by Oliver Kossak

Published in: Neues Leben. newsletter accompanying the project #4, Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig 2000

© 2000 Jan Winkelmann

German Version