Gerwald Rockenschaub

OHNE TITEL, 1993/2018

1200* Euro

First issued in the frame of the exhibition Backstage, 1993, with a reprint marking the demolition of the City-Hof in Hamburg in 2018.

With the edition Ohne Titel [Untitled], 1993, Gerwald Rockenschaub made reference to his installation in the show Backstage, initiated by Stephan Schmidt-Wulffen on the occasion of the reopening of the Kunstverein in the spaces at Klosterwall in 1993. The situation of contemporary art, the role of the artist and of art mediation were assessed and put up for debate in this exhibition. But it was also about becoming familiar with the new spaces. Rockenschaub built an element of steps in the exhibition space allowing the visitors to look at the four towers ofthe City-Hof outside. Steps led up between the wall and the window façade, which is normally too high, enabling one to take in the context of the Kunstverein. It consists of the main access road to Hamburg and the historically significant structure of the City-Hof, built by Rudolf Klophaus in 1958, one of the few examples of international postwar modernism in Hamburg. In this project, Gerwald Rockenschaub dealt with the spatial and institutional situation which the viewers were to experience by means of a shift. The edition itself, with its penetrating grid structures, metaphorically refers to the social principles that structure all forms of community.

Due to the imminent demolition of the City-Hof, the historical edition has again become relevant to the present, gaining an addition force of expression alongside its existing inherent intention. Until today, the heritage-protected ensemble, whose appearance was (not irreversibly) destroyed by the addition of Eternit panels in the 1970s, counts as a particularly striking testimony to postwar modernist architecture and conveys insights into the sense of a new departure after World War II. The idea of giving the City-Hof its old, bright, almost white façade back again, and of preserving the buildings according to the guidelines for historical monuments, while at the same time accommodating housing, a hotel and cultural usages, convinced the jury to award it first place in the tender process of the finance authority. But in the context of today’s urban planning and economic interests, another idea has prevailed, which also has to do with the structuring of society and the question of which history is to be asserted. Especially in urbanism, the interests and decisions of the respective times are reflected, which then go on to write history. The edition thus also becomes a symbol of how urban living space has been contested over the years and of the question as to the criteria according to which this living space is appropriated.

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