December 6, 2015 - Ministry of Culture North-Rhine-Westphalia, Germany - Jochen Gerz: Square of the European Promise
December 6, 2015

Jochen Gerz: Square of the European Promise

© Sabitha Saul, Dortmund.

Jochen Gerz
Square of the European Promise
Inauguration: December 11, 2015, 5pm

Christuskirche Bochum / City Hall
44787 Bochum-Centre 
Facebook / EventTwitter

“Just like the stars give their light to the night, 
people give their promises to the future.” 
–Jochen Gerz

An artwork by many and a central site for the European idea: In2004, the citizens of Bochum in the Ruhr-area of Germany first followed the invitation of internationally renowned artist Jochen Gerz and gave a promise to Europe. Everyone kept their promise to themselves, but the names of those who pledged were inscribed into the ground of a new square—the Square of the European Promise.

As people from the region, Germany, and later from all over Europe continued to participate, thousands of names filled the square. Today, with 14,726 names engraved in the 63 giant basalt stone plates on the 3,000-square-metre square in the city centre, each representing a different and personal contribution, the square has become truly European.

It took 11 years to finalise the participatory work commissioned by the city of Bochum—and, like so many times before in its history, Europe has changed during those years. What does that mean for the promises given at the turn of the century? What kind of future did the citizens of Europe imagine?  

Throughout the years, the question the Square of the European Promise asks remains the same, and everyone visiting or passing it in the future will find themselves answering it in one way or another: What is your contribution to the future today? The future belongs to those who imagine it today. The new square is a monument for something that does not yet exist.

Just like Jochen Gerz’ iconic commemorative works—the Monument against Fascism in Hamburg-Harburg (1986), which has been hidden in the ground for many years now, or the Monument against Racism in Saarbrücken (1995)—the Square of the European Promise also plays with the invisible, the temporal and the contributions of living people. No other public square is the work of so many, and no other square is dedicated not to the dead, but to the living.

The lighting concept is the creation of French designer Laurent Fachard, who previously lit the facade of the Elysée-Palace in Paris. Plans for the Square of the European Promise were developed by soan Architects.

A press conference will be held on December 8 from 4 to 5:30pm. On December 11 at 5pm the Square of the European Promise will be inaugurated.

Contact: Virgilio Pelayo, T + 49 173 9394492 / virgilio.pelayo [​at​]

The Square of the European Promise is a public authorship project by Jochen Gerz, commissioned by the city of Bochum and funded by the federal state government of North-Rhine-Westphalia, the city and the protestant church of Bochum. The square finalises the Cultural Capital Year RUHR. 2010. (Kulturhauptstadtjahr RUHR.2010.)

Jochen Gerz
Born in Berlin in 1940, Jochen Gerz spent a great part of his life living in Paris and is currently based in Ireland. From 1959 to 1963, he studied Literature, Sinology and Prehistory in Cologne, Basle and London. 

Gerz began working with new media in the 1960s. He participated in documenta 6 and 8 and represented Germany in the 37th Venice Biennale. His work was shown in group and solo exhibitions, as well as retrospectives, in many European and American museums. 

Since the 1980′s, Gerz has mainly developed social process and participation in public space and has radically transformed the relationship between art and viewer by making the public centre of his public works. Without their contribution, the artwork could not happen. Gerz calls the creative potential of people which influences not only daily life, work and the individual development, but also aims at the social interplay at large, public authorship.

Jochen Gerz is a member of the Academy of the Arts in Berlin and holds an honorary chair at the University for the Visual Arts in Brunswick.

Prizes and awards: Prize of the German Art Critics, Berlin 1996; Ordre National du Mérite, Paris 1996; Peter Weiss-Prize, Bochum 1996; Grand Prix National des Arts Visuels, Paris 1998.

The Ministry of Culture North-Rhine-Westphalia, Germany presents Jochen Gerz: Square of the European Promise
Ministry of Culture North-Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
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