Discover art – experience the change!

Press release 10th May 2016


International art exhibition Emscherkunst 2016 opens on 4th of June for 100 days in the Ruhr area


Dortmund/Ruhr area, May 2016. Emscherkunst 2016 shows art along the riverbanks of the Emscher for the now third time from the 4th of June to the 18th of September. Contemporary positions of art in public space will be presented. With ‘Unionviertel‘– one of the seven exhibition areas – a focal point is put in the middle of the city, too, for the first time. Artists like Erik van Lieshout (Netherlands), atelier le balto (France), Natalie Jeremijenko (Australia), Roman Signer (Switzerland) or Stracke & Seibt (Germany) were inspired for their works by special areas in the Emscher valley. The exhibition is being curated by Florian Matzner in a team with Katja Aßmann (Urbane Künst Ruhr) and Simone Timmerhaus (Emschergenossenschaft). Organizers are, as they were in 2010 and 2013, Emschergenossenschaft, Urbane Künste Ruhr and  Regionalverband Ruhr (Regionalverband Ruhr).

EK_atelier le balto_Kunstpause

Sketch for the work ‘Kunstpause‘ (c) atelier le balto/Emscherkunst

The nearly 51 km long Art Trail goes through the heart of the Ruhr area and its cities Holzwickede, Dortmund, Castrop-Rauxel, Recklinghausen and Herne.15 new works will be shown in seven exhibition areas in public space. Nine more projects from the exhibitions in 2010 and 2013 will shine at new places. All in all, 24 sculptures, installations, interventions, performances and both photography and film can be experienced in the summer of 2016.


Core theme, next to the conversion of the Emscher to a renaturalized river system, is the destruction and transformation of the Ruhr Area’s industrial landscape. Aspects like climate, ecology and participation are parts of the curatorial concept again. These themes have been unchanged since 2010, but newly added since 2013 has been the urban context, which gets its own focal point in 2016. The artists who were invited dealt with the exhibition areas intensively during their tour and created works inspired by those places.


Curator Florian Matzner emphasized that the artistic positions in 2016, compared to the past two exhibitions, will be definitely more radical and subtle: ‘I wish for a stronger discussion about the art itself! The visitors shall be put on new tracks, be shown new points of view that they might not expect in this landscape.’ Florian Matzner curated the exhibition Emscherkunst 2016 together with Katja Aßmann, artistic director of Urbane Künste Ruhr (Urban Arts Ruhr), and Dr. Simone Timmerhaus, Emschergenossenschaft (Emscher Cooperative), under the motto „Entdecke die Kunst – erlebe die Veränderung.“ (Discover art – experience the change).


Erik van Lieshout (Netherlands) is one of the chosen artists in 2016. He lived and worked periodically in the district Hörde, Dortmund, for his film project ‚The island / Die Insel‘ which was filmed at the Phoenix Lake in Dortmund.


atelier le balto (France/Berlin) is realizing their work ‚Kunstpause‘ (lit. Artistic Pause, means dramatic pause) in an enchanted hazelnut grove close to the Cokery Hansa, Dortmund. This island-like area will be landscaped to a new place to linger with wooden jetties, places to sit and both indigenous and exotic plants.


The artist duo Stracke & Seibt (Germany) is planning a project spanning all seven exhibition areas with „ARCA“. A boat will serve as a mobile research station, from which the visitors can (with instructions from the artists) view and discover the surrounding area in the form of a ‚classical‘ water colour painting course. The painting courses’ forays examine, with reference to heroic landscape painting, scientific drawings, and naive painting, the Emscher area for obvious breaks in the idealistic picture subject of the undisturbed landscape.


More artists of Emscherkunst 2016

Among the artists chosen for 2016 are also Nevin Aladağ (born in Turkey, lives in Berlin), who designed a horizontal landmark in the flood control reservoir. Tobias Zielony (German Pavillon Biennale di Venezia 2015) is planning a film project in the urban Dortmund. Raumlabor from Berlin will realize an accessible contemplative place at the Emscher. Additional artist are the Swedish Henrik Håkansson, whose works take ecology into consideration strongly, the Swiss Roman Signer und the Italian Massimo Bartolini, to just name a few. With the Kunstakademie Münster, a local academy of arts, (Director Prof. Ferdinand Ullrich) there will again be a young, regional art project. All artists’ names are summarized on the Artists List.


Seven exhibition areas along the art trail

With every edition, the exhibition room of Emscherkunst shifts: in 2010, the focus was on the Emscher-Island – the landform between the Emscher and the Rhein-Herne-Canal between Herne/Recklinghausen and Oberhausen. In 2013, the Emscherkunst moved farther west: the art trail spanned between Gelsenkirchen and Duisburg/Dinslaken, where the Emscher leads into the Rhine. In 2016, the eastern Ruhr Area shifts into the focus and reaches from Holzwickede, Dortmund and Castrop-Rauxel to Recklinghausen and Herne. Seven exhibition areas lie along the 51 km long art trail, which is best seen by bike: In Holzwickede one can find the exhibition area „Emscherquelle“ –  with the historical Emscherquellhof  becoming a space for two artists: there will be a camping ground with the tents of the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (work from 2013) and an installation of the Swedish artist Henrik Hakansson. Obvious focus is on the Dortmunder urban region with four exhibition areas: lake Phoenix See, Dortmund Unionviertel (Dortmunder U, Rheinische Straße) and Kokerei Hansa, a former coking plant, become venues for the exhibition. Just on the city boundaries of Dortmund and Castrop-Rauxel is the area of the Hochwasserrückhaltebecken (flood retention basin) Mengede-Ickern. Also in Castrop-Rauxel is the exciting area of the Wasserkreuz (waterway bridge) of Emscher and Rhein-Herne-Kanal. In Recklinghausen/Herne the area of the Museums Strom und Leben, a museum about electricity, and the Stadthafen, a small haven on the Rhine-Herne-Canal,  form the western end of the Emscherkunst 2016.



Since the Capital of Cultur year RUHR.2010 the international exhibition accompanies one of the biggest renaturalization projects in Europe – the conversion of the waste water river Emscher to a natural river landscape – as a triennial. With 200.000 visitors in her first edition during the Capital of Cultur year RUHR.2010, the Emscherkunst 2010 was the biggest art project in the public space of the Ruhr Area. In 2013, 255.000 visitors came to see the temporary works of the Chinsese artist Ai Weiwei, the Danish Tue Greenfort, the Swedish Elin Wikström or the Belgian Hans op de Beeck.


Curator is the art historian Prof. Dr. Florian Matzner, who was born in Essen and teaches art history at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste München, a Academy for Fine Arts in Munich.


The Emschergenossenschaft, the Urbane Künste Ruhr, and the Regionalverband Ruhr are again cooperating as hosts. The Ministry for Family, Children, Youth, Culture and Sports is, as it did in 2010 and 2013, sponsoring the exhibition in the public space along the Emscher.


2013 the Emscherkunst was distinguished by the United Nations for her involvement in conveying the sustainability idea and, together with the generation project Emscher-Conversion, chosen as the „Beitrag zur UN-Dekade Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung“ (Contribution to the UN-Decade Education for sustainable Development).


Works like the pedestrian bridge „Slinky Springs to Fame“ by the Frankfurter architect Tobias Rehberger across the Rhein-Herne-Kanal in Oberhausen or the dancing power pole „Zauberlehrling“ (Sorcerer’s Apprentice) by the Berliner artist collective Inges Idee belong to the new icons of the public space in the area of the Metropole Ruhr and the Emscher Landschaftspark (Emscher area).