WHEN ATTITUDE BECOMES A FOUNDATION
“Making the Impossible Possible” in North Rhine-Westphalia and—for a Few Days in July—New York City

Nowhere is the myopic New York-centrism that Saul Steinberg so famously captured in his March 29, 1976 cover of the New Yorker as ubiquitous as it is in the art world. Although international travel is a given for most art professionals, in 2015 the art-infested boroughs of New York City, branching out from Soho to Chelsea, to Williamsburg, Long Island City, and Bushwick, with museums expanding in ways both depressing (MoMA) and exhilarating (the Whitney), it is hard not to continue to call New York the center of the art world.

World Heritage Site: Shaft 12 of Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen, Germany, built by Bauhaus architects. Photo © Thomas Wolf, www.foto-tw.de.

Chauvinistic as this is, and typically American in its sense of exceptionalism, the question is: What kind of art city is New York? Although the answer is hardly news, the tenor and quality of my own awareness of New York’s (and America’s) notion that “successful” art is synonymous with financial capital shifted, after my trip to North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany at the invitation of the Kunststiftung NRW, the Art Foundation of North Rhine-Westphalia,1 from a grudging acceptance to a stark, “oh yeah, capitalism is not nature.”

What I discovered wasn’t just the world-class quality and surfeit of art museums in this tiny state, but a culture, or attitude, towards art that, for a New Yorker, was a welcome bite in the ass.

The occasion for my visit was the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Kunststiftung NRW, for which they mounted a state-wide series of exhibitions titled 25/25/25, pairing twenty-five NRW artists with twenty-five municipal art museums. The artists were given access to the museum’s collection and asked to produce an original artwork in the spirit of the museum.2 An image of the artwork appeared on local billboards in the surrounding city as a way to connect with the community, and after a year, the piece was donated to the collection, becoming a part of the very museum that inspired it.

The artist Batia Suter selected the newly (and brilliantly) renovated LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur, in Münster, and created a singularly affecting work called Alte Treppe [Old Stairs]. In the museum’s archives she discovered black-and-white photographs of a monumental Beaux Arts staircase, torn down during one of the museum’s renovations—a signifier of another time.

Alte Treppe brought this lost architectural sensation back to life as a large fabric collage cut from an accretion of subtly shifting perspectives and angles as well as expressive digital blurs and manipulations of the original black-and-white photos. In this way Suter produced a present but impossible memory of the building itself, “making the museum the custodian not only of the artworks it holds, but also of its own architectural history.”3

This is fitting, since the motto of the Kunststiftung NRW is “Making the Impossible Possible,” so Suter’s Alte Treppe might be seen as a synecdoche of the very mission of the Foundation itself—to protect and promote the historic and contemporary visual art, literature, music, and performance of the NRW. As the Secretary General of the Foundation, Dr. Ursula Sinnreich,4 puts it, “When deciding on whether an application will be successful or not, only the creative strength and innovative power of the artistic concept determines its success. In decision-making, we do not look at the status or the reputation of the applicant, nor at the level of the amount requested.”5

What makes this statement more than just the directive of a benevolent funding institution is that the Kunststiftung NRW is funded by the state lottery and is a creation of the government itself, initiated in 1989 by Minister President Johannes Rau with a constitution that explicitly states that support is “exclusively for non-commercial projects.”6

And here we come to my cultural vertigo. Imagine a percentage of the profit from the New York state lottery suddenly allocated to the arts, with the stipulation that it is exclusively for non-commercial art.

Although the foundation works in tandem with the government, Dr. Sinnreich is adamant that the Foundation is:

[…] free from political interests or state government cultural guidelines. They do not stipulate any interests whatsoever. This way of working is possible because the foundation exists as an independent organization under civil law and is underscored by the fact that the constitution focuses on the support and promotion of exceptional projects and extraordinary artists. That means, the money does not flow into the infrastructure of the maintenance of the institutions, either for the physical space or for the staff.

Once again, imagine such a situation in New York, where profits from the lottery currently allocated to the less-than-educational No Child Left Behind reforms are controlled by the legislative decisions of Albany—so bribable, crooked, and debauched that Governor Cuomo’s Mooreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption was shut down amid rumors that the administration was itself tampering with the investigation.7

Foundations sometimes have  their own ideas of sponsorship and how they want to create an ideal picture of themselves—in contrast to my experience with Kunststiftung NRW, where the focus was on my work. The Foundation gave me the freedom to let the project develop “naturally” on its own which is the kind of support artists really need but often don’t get.8

Sabrina Fritsch is an emerging artist living in Düsseldorf who received a year of funding from the Kunststiftung to produce an artist’s book. In a statement that echoes what I heard again and again from the artists and institutions supported by the Kunststiftung NRW, the Foundation really does act as a benevolent fairy godmother whose interest is the support of creative vision above all else. In other words, there is a welcome absence of micro-managing or invasive helicopter parenting once a project is selected. Additionally, curators and associates of the Foundation are available for artists and institutions to consult with if obstacles arise or they decide to change aspects of the original terms of their application.

During her year of support, Sabrina Fritsch’s ideas for her book deepened due to her desire to translate the materiality of her paintings onto printed paper. As she put it:

I’m really thankful that the Kunststiftung NRW didn’t nail me down on the content of my letter of application (making a quite “normal” artist book: creating a PDF on the computer and printing it abroad on a special machine). Because working one year with my own copy machine I was able to use the machine to create new pictures, to build new “paintings” on the Risograph.

Fritsch was free, and even encouraged, to use the funds from her fellowship to purchase a heavy-duty, high-speed color copy machine, whose ink was supplied by formidable two-foot circular drums. By purchasing it and putting it in her tiny, minimal studio, she actually invented, as she puts it, “new paintings.” The images produced on Risograph GR 3770 were as labor-intensive as her painting because she spent hours (and was able to because she owned the machine) sending images back through the copier in order to produce the same layered texture with ink as she does with paint in
her paintings.

The visual arts are only one of the areas the Foundation supports, along with literature, music, dance, theater, media arts, and literary translation,9 but, of note:

During our 25 years of supporting projects, we have experienced the disciplines that find it especially difficult to realize an independent evening program for the stage are the areas of musical theatre, young composers, directors, choreographers, and dancers. The support of the foundation then consists of making this idea become reality. That means: we ensure that the space, time, staff, and facilities are all made available to develop and rehearse the piece.10

One such artist is the young, much buzzed-about choreographer Ben Riepe, who works “on the edges of forms.” His troupe’s production Der letzte Schrei was one of only two theatrical performances presented in the 25/25/25 project. Riepe and his company of performers choreograph “atmospheres” (dinners) and facial expressions, as well as present performances in galleries and museums as a moving exhibit of choreographed bodies rather than performers on a stage. Their work falls between experimental theater, dance, performance art, and innovative installation art.11 Riepe says of his support:

Sabrina Fritsch, Book NR 28 from the series of artist books “1/100.”

[The Foundation] really listens and understands the needs of an artist without any institutional agenda. They have supported all of my projects since 2005—including stage performances, installations, serial works, a research project to develop new forms and even an open-ended scholarship for project development. We would never be able to do the work we do if our salary had to be raised by the sale of tickets. […] We are given complete freedom to work only on our productions.12

The state of NRW was created in 1946 when the British military administration merged the province of Westphalia and the northern parts of the Rhine province (which had been part of Prussia under the German Reich). The NRW is approximately the size of Arizona, yet within this 13,000-square-mile radius there are an astounding 200 museums. As ZERO group co-founder Heinz Mack put it, one “would need another life to see everything there is on offer in the NRW, given that every town has a world-class museum.”13

The Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf, founded by the Duke of Palatinate and his wife Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici (and the site of the infamous Degenerate Art Exhibition of 1937), is undoubtedly the oldest and most famous. It is also one of the few NRW institutions the Foundation has worked with since its inception in 1990. Renowned director Beat Wismer expresses a warm and appreciative admiration for the long history which, as he put it, is not just monetary but includes an ethic of total commitment to the creative process, free of bureaucratic nonsense or interference. One such exhibition is the 2012 internationally acclaimed “El Greco and Modernism,” an ingenious exploration of the affinities between Expressionism and the 17th-century painter.14

You became aware of the fact that whatever you did should be a document of your own existence; therefore it should not be a kind of entertainment, but something that gives you a certain reason for doing art at all. This idea of doing things “just for fun” did not fit. There was a real awareness of the fact that everything had been destroyed after the war—this was not only the destruction of the material world, but also of the intellectual world. It was really this pure emptiness, which goes along with philosophy, of course. We were really impressed by the philosophy of Husserl; existentialism became so important, and it started with Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche, and then it became actual by Sartre and Heidegger; Albert Camus was very important for us, as was Kafka.

—Heinz Mack discussing ZERO in 201415

The Museum Kunstpalast is also the home of the ZERO Foundation. In the fall of 2014, prior to going to the NRW, I attended the press preview of the Guggenheim Museum’s ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s–60s, the first museum survey held in the United States of this relatively unknown (in the United States) but essential (to contemporary art) European avant-garde group. As this was my introduction to ZERO, it wasn’t until I spoke directly with Mattijs Visser, the founding director of the ZERO Foundation at the Kunstpalast, and with Heinz Mack himself during my trip, that this issue of differing attitudes towards art became more than just a one-note truism.

The website for ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s-60s, which Otto Piene described as “an idea not a movement,”16 describes ZERO this way:

Among the central themes explored are the development of new definitions of painting, including the monochrome, serial structures, and pictures made with fire and smoke; a focus on light, movement and space; the interrogation of the relationship between nature, technology, and humankind; an interest in viewer activation; and the production of live art actions, many of which were known as demonstrations.17

In this description Yves Klein’s monochromes move to the front and we learn, that yes, ZERO was an international network of artists reacting against the subjective, gestural tenets of Abstract Expressionism, Art Informel, and Tachisme, but its essential identity rests within an aesthetic art historical avant-garde rather than a philosophical movement or idea.18

Rejecting the then-dominant styles in European art, Tachisme and Art Informel, which emphasized gestural abstraction and personal expression, the emerging generation of ZERO artists devised new approaches to painting. They explored the use of single colors and serial structures to achieve a minimal aesthetic. Klein’s Monochromes series proved influential. By limiting his palette to one color and applying dense layers of pigment in an all-over treatment, he downplayed the hand of the artist. Rather than focusing on the personal expression that was central to Art Informel, he pointed to painting’s capacity to convey immaterial concepts like cosmic energy.19

Klein becomes a driving force in the origin story of the Guggenheim’s ZERO. Here is Heinz Mack in 2014 discussing his first meeting with Klein in 1957:

Actually, it was Jean Tinguely who asked me if I’d ever heard of Yves Klein, and it was Tinguely who took care of it so that I met him in Paris. It was exactly the time Tinguely produced a construction with a little motor on top of it that could spin around, on which Klein added a little disc of paper—a coaster—on it, coloured monochrome blue. Tinguely and Klein told me proudly that this was what they had been collaborating on, and they asked what I thought of it. When they turned it on, immateriality was the main thing that stood out for me: the colour of this rotating disc became completely immaterial, like a blue cloud at once spinning but seemingly static. They were so happy that I immediately discovered the sense of it! This was a very important meeting.

Not only is it Mack who emphasizes immateriality rather than materiality, but, within the actual history, it is Mack who brings Klein into a non-hierarchical zone of like-minded artists.

I supported this [sculptor Norbert Kricke’s suggestion of Klein to Alfred Schmeller ] which resulted in Klein’s 1957 exhibition, “Yves, Propositions monochromes.” So you see, things kind of happened almost by accident: everyone was influencing and impressing each other at the same time and reaching out in different ways. There was no hierarchy: it was really more about equivalence between artists.20

Heinz Mack during the shooting of the film Tele-Mack, 1968. Photo: Edwin Braun.

The Guggenheim reinscribes hierarchy in favor of Klein.21

After the brief, efficient, bizarrely lacking press preview I walked up the Guggenheim spiral and saw pristine, aesthetically compelling works such as Piene’s Light Ballet (1961 and 1969), but it is difficult not to associate the allure of ZERO as beautiful objects with the fact that in February of 2010—around the time planning for such an exhibition would be put into motion—Piene’s Rauchbild, a 1961 oil and charcoal on canvas from the Lenz-Schoenberg collection, was sold for £223,250.22

By contrast, the value of ZERO for Düsseldorf, and for the NRW in general, was described vividly by Matthijs Visser:

My uncle, Henk Peeters, was a ZERO artist: he was one of the central Dutch figures who organized all the museum shows for the ZERO movement in Holland, so I was raised around ZERO. The idea for the foundation actually began through him, when he told me in 2005 that someone from the Getty institute wanted to buy his archive—which included thousands of exchanges between him and artists including Duchamp and Rothko—I told him not to do it, and then I wrote a letter to Düsseldorf’s local government officer for culture, Hans Georg-Lohe, and told him that it wasn’t a good idea that the Getty was buying archives here in Düsseldorf, a city with such an important and rich international history. After I wrote the letter, Getty bought the entire archive of a very famous gallery here in Düsseldorf, Schmela, for something like half a million euro in 2006. I would say the next day the Minister of Culture called me and said we needed to talk. From here, I developed the concept to collect works and archives from a handful of artists, including Mack, Piene and Uecker, which I calculated would represent, at that time, a value of 9 million euro. I presented this concept to the city of Düsseldorf in 2006, which agreed to fund us with 300,000 euros per year over 30 years to build the archive.23

As an example of its interest in promoting and protecting the history of the NRW, Nam June Paik’s years of living and art making in Düsseldorf, are honored by the Foundation’s annual Nam June Paik International Media Art Award of 25,000 euros. In 2014 it was awarded unanimously to the New York-based French artist Camille Henrot, a recipient of the Silver Lion Award at the 2013 Venice Biennale for her video Grosse Fatigue, and a 2014 Hugo Boss Prize nominee. Her exhibition at the New Museum in New York, in the summer of 2014, “The Restless Earth,” filled the museum with her intensely theoretical visual essays that mix intuitive research with finely selected images and objects, discovering morphological links between disparate systems of knowledge such as anthropology, philosophy, film theory, colonial studies, myth, and the epistemology of the Internet.24 The Newcomer Award, also a unanimous decision, was given to the theoretically inventive Düsseldorf-based artist Manuel Graf.25 Graf works with computer-generated 3D and 2D animations to explore the social and political constructions of global identity, culture, and place, as in La Mediterraneé (2010): a film collage of the Mediterranean region, which investigates these constructions through their depiction in the book of the same name by historian Fernand Braudel.

As if to illustrate Heinz Mack’s comment that one would need another life time to see everything the NRW has to offer, the exhibition for the Nam June Paik Award takes place in the Kunstmuseum which consists of two remarkable residential buildings—Haus Lange and Haus Esters—designed by Mies van der Rohe, for the German industrialists Lange and Estes, between 1928 and 1930. Inside, hidden in plain sight, is also a 1961 Yves Klein white room which, until the curator pointed it out and let us enter one by one with white slippers, is just a plain white door, most likely a storage room or utility closet.

The housing of art in such places as the residential buildings Haus Lange and Haus Esters suggests that Gandhi’s observation, “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated,” can be applied to how a nation treats its industrial and urban ruins. While New York City has a robust history of transforming abandoned factories and urban buildings into art museums or galleries, pioneered by the visionary Alanna Heiss in the ’70s, chances are that such buildings are either torn down for the development of luxury housing (the future fate of the Domino Sugar Factory26), or made into upscale malls. 27

And here we come to the Zeche Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in the city of Essen, built in 1847, and designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001.28 It is a massive complex29 that was in operation until 1986. Described as “the most beautiful coal mine in the world,” the visual grandeur is indeed jaw-dropping, more Fritz Lang than industrial landmark. In fact, if you can imagine a working Bauhaus coal factory, Shaft 12 was built by Bauhaus architects Fritz Schupp and Martin Kremmer in 1932. In order to maintain the principle of symmetry, the architects included a completely nonfunctional addition to match. As if this isn’t enough, it is now a sprawling arts center that includes the Red Dot Design Museum, an escalator designed by Rem Koolhaas with translucent electric orange railings to suggest molten ore, and a performing arts center. As our exceptionally knowledgeable guide Frank Switala said:

For our part I can add that a former industrial open space like Zollverein can provide other opportunities to connect people with art. In contrast to a museum, people can incidentally see works, for example sculptures in the open space such as the works of Ulrich Rückriem, Ansgar Nierhoff, or Alf Lechner, or the Works Swimming Pool, a leisure facility built in a formerly human hostile environment. The combination of reduced architecture, monumental industrial machines and facilities, and the nature create strong contrasts inspiring artists and public to new ideas.

While the Zeche Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex was overwhelming as an architectural marvel and signifier of the state’s and Foundation’s commitment to art, the museum that really unhinged me was in the out-of-the-way town of Unna, where the Westfälisch and Ruhrpott dialects are still spoken, and whose history is described as “a series of wars, plagues, and fires.” And yet, here one finds the first and only museum dedicated to light art in the world, the Centre for International Art and Light. Again it is this very fact that the Centre is located in an unremarkable, out-of-the-way town, that is so strikingly different from New York and the United States. Although we have the examples of Dia Beacon, New York and Mass MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts; even if our NRW geographic corollary, Arizona, suddenly sprouted 200 museums—many of them world-class—it could not match the 120-year-old Linden Brewery in which the Centre is housed.30 The contrast between 19th-century industry and 20th- and 21st-century light art by Mario Merz, Joseph Kosuth, Christian Boltansky, Roni Horn, and James Turrell, among others, throws both into stunning relief. But, guided through the dark, vaulted cellars, by the immensely warm and knowledgeable director John Jaspers, while the museum was closed, images of industrial amounts of beer floated about in my head, and we came upon Roni Horn’s Lotus Shadows (2006), which was heart-stopping.

And yet, for all its previous invisibility as a site of extraordinary quantities and qualities of art, the NRW will have its impact on New York City this summer when a project the Foundation developed brings, of all things, the American composer Harry Partch’s rarely seen Delusion of the Fury to Lincoln Center under the direction of Heiner Goebbels and the Ensemble  MusikFabrik of Cologne. Featured in the New York Times’s “50 Essential Summer Festivals” under the description: “Homemade instruments, a Japanese Noh play, dancers and a deaf hobo? That would be the weird and wonderful Delusion of the Fury, a rarely-staged 90-minute musical theater piece by the experimental American composer Harry Partch.”31

Delusion of the Fury, Ensemble MusikFabrik. Photo: © Klaus Rudolph.

Born in 1901 in Oakland, California, the self-taught Partch, who described himself as “a music philosopher seduced into carpentry,” is a legend among the musical avant-garde, yet he is far less well known in the art world than John Cage. While Cage experimented and expanded the vocabulary of music via principles of indeterminacy, the never-silence of silence, and the non-conventional use of instruments such as works for prepared piano, Partch completely rejected the Western standard of twelve-tone music as early as 1930, when he burned all his compositions, instead developing a microtonal scale based on an octave divided into an astonishing 43 unequal tones “exposing notes in between the standard pitches that convey hauntingly beautiful gradations of flatness and sharpness.”32 But, since there were obviously no instruments capable of playing such compositions, Partch invented his own, among them, the poetically named Eucal Blossom, Zymo-Xyl, Quadrangularis Reversum, Castor & Pollux, Spoils of War, Chromelodeon, and Marimba Eroica.

And yet, Delusion of the Fury has rarely been performed in the United States. It was premiered at the UCLA playhouse on January 9th, 1969 but, this remained the only performance until 2007 when the Japan Society sponsored a production, ostensibly because Act I is based on the Japanese Noh drama “Atsumori.” In 2013 the piece was restaged at the Ruhrtriennale—founded in 2002 by the government of North Rhine-Westphalia—by Ensemble MusikFabrik, under the direction of Heiner Goebbels. This was the first time Delusion of the Fury had been staged in Europe.33

While there are many reasons Partch’s masterwork has been performed so rarely,34—among them the fact that the original instruments, preserved at Montclair State University in New Jersey, are too fragile to be played so they must be remadethe fact that it is the Japan Society, or an art foundation from the supposedly unhip area of the NRW, who bring Partch to New York, suggests that the limits of the Steinbergian view, which sees only flatness and scarcity beyond the Hudson River, have actually come back to bite us where it hurts.35 For in that foreshortened vision of America, the absent California is in fact where Partch was born and remained until his death in 1976. But on July 23 and 24, thanks to the Art Foundation of the NRW, Delusion of the Fury will be seen and heard in the boundaries of New York City. The caveat being this is New York City so the experience of this American genius is yours if it isn’t sold out and you can afford the round-trip subway and the sixty-five to eighty-five-dollar ticket.36 



Endnotes

  1. Many thanks to the indefatigable Caroline West for her flawless organization of the trip and to Dr. Ursula Sinnreich for her generosity. A special thanks to art writer, Stephanie Bailey as well. My essay owes a tremendous debt to the many excellent articles, cited here, she published after the trip.
  2. For an overview of the Kunststiflung NRW’s 25/25/25 see Stephanie Bailey’s January 20, 2015 essay, “On the Autobahn: A Report from North Rhine-Westphalia,” Ocula.com.
  3. Kunststiftung NRW News, 25/25/25: Batia Suter at LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur, Münster, November 13, 2014.
  4. Before Dr. Sinnreich was appointed General Secretary of the Arts Foundation NRW, she worked in France, England, the USA, and Switzerland as a curator, dramalogue, professor, and museum director, most notably at the International Centre for Art and Light in Unnur. She is the author of a monograph on James Turrell.
  5. Email correspondence with Dr. Sinnreich, January 28, 2015.
  6. See Kunststiftung NRW (Arts Foundation of North Rhine-Westphalia) mission statement.
  7. Erica Orden and Chris M. Matthews, “Federal Investigation Looks at Cuomo and Mooreland Commission Referrals,” The Wall Street Journal, August 7, 2014.
  8. See Sabrina Fritsch’s website: www.sabrinafritsch.com.
  9. The Foundation also sponsors residencies in Mumbai and Tel Aviv.
  10. Email correspondence, May 12, 2015.
  11. See Benjamin J. Riepe’s film, Natura, 2011, excerpt.
  12. Email correspondence with Benjamin J. Riepe, May 6, 2015.
  13. Stephanie Bailey, “A conversation with Heinz Mack,” Ocula, December 22, 2015.
  14. Charles Darwent, “El Greco and Modernism, Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf Urs Fischer: Madame Fisscher, Palazzo Grassi, Venice,” The Independent, May 13, 2012.
  15. “A conversation with Heinz Mack,” Stephanie Bailey, Ocula, December 22, 2015.
  16. Also, “From the beginning we looked upon the term not as an expression of nihilism—or a Dada-like gag, but as a word indicating a zone of silence and of pure possibilities for a new beginning as at the count-down when rockets take off—zero if the incommensurable zone in which the old state turns into the new.” Blair Asbury Brooks, “How the Zero Group Became One of Art History’s Most Viral Movements,” Artspace Magazine, November 5, 2014.
  17. See the Guggenheim’s Zero: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s-60s website.
  18. See the Guggenheim’s Zero: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s-60s, video on Youtube.
  19. See the Guggenheim’s Zero: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s-60s, press release.
  20. Stephanie Bailey, “A conversation with Heinz Mack,” Ocula.com, December 22, 2015.
  21. Untitled Blue Monochrome (1959) sold for $6,085,000 GBP on February 10, 2015, Sothebys.com.
  22. See Otto Piene Auction Results at artsy.net.
  23. Stephanie Bailey, “A conversation with Mattijs Visser,” Ocula, March 30, 2015.
  24. M.H. Miller, “Camille Henrot Won the Nam June Paik Award,” Artnews, September 29, 2014.
  25. Stephanie Bailey, “A conversation with Manual Graf,” Ocula, March 30, 2014.
  26. “One of the most substantial works of art to hit New York in years was with us for only two months. This week, the final vestiges of Kara Walker’s A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby were removed from the old sugar shed of the Domino factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which will make way for apartments.” Blake Gopnik, “Fleeting Artworks, Melting Like Sugar,” The New York Times, July 11, 2014.
  27. A welcome exception is the renovation of the beloved Tobacco Warehouse in DUMBO for St. Ann’s Warehouse now on Jay Street but formally at a spice-milling factory a few blocks away. Nonetheless it is an exception since lately DUMBO has been scarred by a number of hackneyed luxury glass box obscenities such as the Pierhouse, which was called “the worst building in the Gilded City” by Gawker. Hamilton Nolan, “The Worst Building in the Gilded City,” Gawker, January 2, 2015.
  28. The Arts Foundation of NRW supports various individual projects as well as general funding to the Zolleverein.
  29. See Zollverein World Heritage Site Map.
  30. Such projects are more difficult to realize post 2008, due to the depressed economy in Germany.
  31. See the New York Times list, “50 Essential Summer Festivals,” New York Times, May 15, 2015.
  32. Anthony Tommasini, “Dreams (and Instruments) of a Visionary Tinkerer,” New York Times, December 6, 2007.
  33. Voted the best classical performance of 2014 by the Guardian. Tim Ashley, Andrew Clements, and Tom Service, “The 10 best live musical events of 2014,” The Guardian, December 16, 2014.
  34. Partch has a deeply knowledgeable, impassioned, and fiercely loyal following in the United States. When I contacted Jonathan Szanto of the Harry Partch Foundation, who knew and worked with Partch, he stated he had seen the MusikFabrik production and had no interest in supporting their presentation of Partch’s piece. In fact, from the tone and content of his response, it was clear he regarded it as a violation of Partch’s entire musical philosophy.
  35. The Ensemble MusikFabrik remade Partch’s instruments. Kate Molleson, “Harry Partch—how Heiner Goebbels bought Delusion of the Fury to Edinburgh,” The Guardian, August 29, 2014.
  36. Tickets available at Lincoln Center Festival’s website.

Contributor

Thyrza Nichols Goodeve

THYRZA NICHOLS GOODEVE is a writer living in New York. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California in Santa Cruz under Donna Haraway and James Clifford. She is faculty and thesis director of the MFA in Art Practice at the School of Visual Arts, and Program Coordinator for the MICA summer intensive inDUMBO.

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