Exchange of warmth

April/Mai 2006
Kunstverein Kreis Ludwigsburg, Ludwigsburg, Germany
Public Art with 8 participants, installation with slide projectors

Meetings with me at a fixed time every morning and continuing it for three weeks. Each meeting took a few minutes at different bus stops and stations in the city. The people who met with me were seven local people who caught their bus or train to work. They received a warm object (which was actually cooked potato) from me at each meeting. As exchange, they were asked to write their thoughts on a card during the day and to give it back to me the next morning. I also observed their behavior, their suspicions and reactions to me.

I started this project by asking myself what kind of relationships my participants and I could build if we do not talk about the purpose of the meetings at all, nor make any agreements about the final goal of the project. Before they participate, people like to understand the intention of an art concept. I was used to explaining concepts and details to people, especially in Germany. I felt tired of this pre-explanation ”ceremony“. It was a challenge to give people an object without telling which message the object carries from me.

My message was “Warm”, a simple adjective. I kept the warmth next to my skin until I passed it to the person. Depending on the weather and the size of the object, this message changed each day. Some participants perceived it as a ”potato“, the object became a ”potato“ and stayed a ”potato“. The ”potato“ came to them every morning again and again. Some received the object without rejection and never touched the topic with me. The process was made visible in an installation consisting of the written thoughts I’d received from the participants and of my daily notes about each meeting.