For a few summer months once a decade, this small city becomes the epicenter of contemporary sculpture.
The idea of an art festival that only happens once every ten years seems a little pointless. But after you visit Münster, Germany and experience the ambitiousness of the Skulptur Projekte, you're amazed they can pull it off that often. The entire city and a few surrounding fields seem to be overrun with new sculptural works. Fortunately Münster is one of the most bikeable and walkable cities I've ever experienced. Which means getting to the more than 30 locations is surprisingly easy and enjoyable. Münster is a perfectly lovely place to wander and see sculptures. And there's more than new work to see. Since this is the fifth installment of the storied festival, there's plenty of sculptural detritus left behind by some of the most notable artists of the last fifty years. You can't go very far without bumping into another interesting object. I've covered off on those in another post.
For now, let's focus on all the new. A few general thoughts about the 2017 edition of Skulptur Projekt:
- "Sculpture" is a term used loosely in Münster. The festival featured works that relied on everything from video to performance art to make their sculptural statements. Sometimes that worked. Other times it felt small compared to many of the more traditional public-sculpture efforts.
- For the past couple of years, I've felt like the art world is unsettled and warning us of coming doom. Münster only furthered that feeling. And yet, there were frequently glimmers of hope, moments of cautious optimism. That helped quell my anxiety, even if only slightly.
- Sculpture wants desperately to feel less precious, more urgent, and more unfinished. Scaffolding, rough edges, and the "ready-made" are all the rage. Sometimes it works. But often it made me long for the spectacular objects that constitute some of my favorite art. Only time will tell if this new messiness will inspire the future of humanity. Or maybe it already has and the current state of affairs is a reflection of the art world's disarray.
With those thoughts in mind, here are a few photos of some of my favorite works from the 2017 Skulptur Projekte Münster:
Creative director and art nerd contemplating travel, books, theater, and art.