Gelsenlos (Gelsen Lottery Ticket)

Gelsenkirchen, 2002
In Connection with the Exhibition Concept OVERTURES von ARTCIRCOLO

Artistic works in public space are accompanied by imponderables and uncertainties, a fact of life that mostly applies to the phase of planning and approval. This uncertainty – or put positively – openness – constitutes an essential element of the phases of Empfangshalle’s actual carrying out or exhibiting of their works. A striking example of this is the proposed sculpture project Gelsenlos in Gelsenkirchen-Buer, Germany. A “los” – German for “lottery ticket” – thus even a “Gelsenlos” – juggles with hope and chance by its very nature. Thus, many hopes are bound up with the time-frame of Empfanshalle’s works; all that is certain is that – at first, at any rate -there will be one less unemployed person in the city – the one employed by Empfanshalle to sell these “Gelsenlos” i.e. Gelsen Lottery Tickets. The supposedly self-contained work of art will be set in motion by a lottery win, and not before: This will release several huge water fountains, re-creating for a few moments the outlines of the tower pinnacles of the St. Urbanus Church that had been destroyed in the war. Empfangshalle makes use of water as construction material here so that the church may regain its towers and the city of Buer its landmark; in the context of the church water refers to ancient rituals such as baptism and purification, thus also referring back to water’s cultural significance in our society.

By involving an “unemployed” street seller of the magazine by and for homeless people, “fifty-fifty,” in the art project – something that takes place long before and practically independently of the spectacular water events – Empfangshalle refers to a societal structure that also affects water and that increasingly eludes both feasibility and our hopes and wishes, as well as commanding its own potential. The “unemployed” street seller who also displayed his magazine in a kiosk built by the artists near the church and next to the “Gelsenlos” Lottery Tickets, widened the scope of the project by locating it in a dimension of completely differently motivated public presence and attention. Our reaching for the water faucet that immediately produces splashing, bubbling water, is bound up with unshakeable optimism only as long as we shut our eyes to a whole series of decisive preconditions (and their fragility). Indeed, we may well speak of good fortune today when water splashes out of our taps, in spite of all administrative and technological efforts.

Christopher Kramatschek