Züblin Parkhaus, 11th December 2021
Walking from the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst to the Parkhaus, 11th December 2021
AUßEN.INNEN - performance at Kultur Kiosk by Laima Preidite and Marko Mrdja
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Space for Cars and Art
A parking structure like Züblin helps alleviate the spatial demands Stuttgart’s dense car force. With 5 levels for its 597 parking spots, it accommodates 10,000 square meters of parking within 2,600 square meters of land.
The Kultur Kiosk is a gallery space that lives in the base of Züblin and is unrelated to cars. This space (about 4 parking spots large) has been allotted to the Kultur Kiosk from 2020 to 2023, at which point the city of Stuttgart will take back and repurpose it. Sara Dahme, owner of the Kultur Kiosk, describes the space as somewhere you can discover that which you never knew you needed, a point of connection between the city and its culture.
I think… I feel grateful for this opportunity to make art? After all, Kultur Kiosk doesn’t need my installation to be successful. And perhaps Züblin doesn’t need the Kultur Kiosk in order to be a perfectly fine Parkhaus. As an artist, I’m only offering a nicety, nothing essential, to the Parkhaus operations.
In its infant stages (1392), the Chosun Dynasty established itself as a land of its own amongst China, Japan, and other asian powers. Neighbor to large Ming China, Chosun gained recognition through tributary offerings, sending envoys of exotic materials to China in exchange for being left alone. Under this system, Chosun lasted for 500 years, until 1898, when conflicts between Japan and Qing China led to the establishment of the Korean Empire, and eventually Japan’s annexation of Korea in 1910.
I think…when I moved to Stuttgart, I was disgusted by the amount of construction everywhere. A parkhaus is a totally boring use of space. Cars shouldn’t even exist. What a terrible stewardship of our climate, literally exhaling tons CO2 into the atmosphere in exchange for the individualist comforts afforded by a 15,000 kg machine made to transport 1-4 people. And now, we dump concrete and steel into the heart of the city, just to accommodate for the over-population of these cars.
A typical reading of Chosun is one of meekness. China didn’t need Chosun, but Chosun kept its head down, gave gifts, and acknowledged Ming and Qing as the dominant powers. But not all historians see it this way. It is odd that Chosun lasted 500 years, through the fall of the Ming dynasty and the emergence of the Qing dynasty. While regimes rose and fell in China, Chosun persisted through many generations.
I think… I have a lot of frustration around automobiles. Yes, they are an environmental issue. But I have to admit, my feelings are fueled by something more personal, a frustration around finding space for art in Stuttgart, especially since the second lockdown in November 2020.
What was that power of the Chosun dynasty, one not of might, but persistence? Opposing forces of military might; this is the framework history is often seen through. And there is something outside of this framework that is entangled in the legacy of Chosun. Even among historians today there is not a consensus on what that something exactly was.
I think… I can’t talk about the necessity of art in the same terms Stuttgart talks about the necessity of the automotive industry. They are simply too different. But, both are an economy, both are affected by the pandemic, and both need financial and political support. I don’t know…
In a way, Kultur Kiosk and the Parkhaus are a micro-analogy to Stuttgart's cultural scene and the automotive industry that encases it. This place is the “cradle of the automobile,” where Mercedes Benz and Porsche are headquartered, and where the automobile was purportedly born in 1887. Since November 2020, the pandemic has closed all cultural events, performing arts spaces, and art galleries. Thankfully, this essay has found some space here, next to the pay machine in the Züblin Parkhaus. There is currently little art-space in Stuttgart. But there is car-space where some art can be placed. This is good, but it is not ideal.
I think… my time as an artist here (2019-present) reminds me of Chosun and China. I don’t doubt that Stuttgart enjoys its art institutions and believes that they bring vibrancy into the city’s culture. I also don’t believe the arts can exist in Stuttgart without the indirect and direct financial support of the automotive industry. In the way history has traditionally viewed it, I want to resent Ming and Qing China, under which Chosun had little agency. I want to resent my space for art-making, here in a parking structure, and not on a stage or in a gallery. But I think there is space for me not to, and that’s what I’m searching for at the moment.
In a month or so the postcards of this installation will all be taken away. In 2023 the city of Stuttgart will repurpose the Kultur Kiosk space. For when and where space for art is given, art has little deciding power. Like Chosun to China, it stands at the mercy of the automotive industry in Stuttgart. And like historians of pre modern Asia, artists and not-artists in Stuttgart choose how to see this relationship.
-Brandon Lincoln Snyder
Stuttgart, February 2021