Opel factories in Poland, Spain, England and Germany are threatened to be shut down for good. The Opel plant in Bochum has been closed at the end of 2014, and thousands of employees have lost their jobs. The city is now facing the most far-reaching economic and social changes since the coal mines were closed down in the 1960s. In October 2013, “The Detroit Project” started to artistically and scientifically examine the problems which may well arise from the imminent structural changes in labour and the city. Under the curatorship of Olaf Kröck and Sabine Reich from the Schauspielhaus Bochum, the project asked artists, architects, urban planners, designers and researchers to explore the social changes which will likely accompany the closing of the Opel plants at the sites mentioned above.
“The Detroit Project” was divided into different phases. A research project had invited design, architecture and art academies to participate in a competition to answer the question “What needs to happen to make Bochum the most interesting city in the world?” An art festival which started in spring 2014 transformed Bochum into a city-wide venue for artistic interventions for four months. Architects, fine artists and performers presented their works which were specially developed for Bochum and its inhabitants. The research findings, installations, city performances and theatre productions with workers from the Bochum Opel manufacturing plant and their families have been shown throughout Bochum, at the Schauspielhaus and partner institutions – in some cases, on a long-term basis.
In the streets of Bochum and 20 venues around the city, visitors saw a multifaceted programme of events by international artists and regional partners which encouraged Bochum’s inhabitants to see themselves not as victims, but active participants in industrial transformation. On 26 April, the photo exhibition “My Bochum – Our Future” opened in front of the German Mining Museum, accompanied by the official presentation of the new art work “How Love Could be” in the presence of the British artist Tim Etchells. Over 20 art projects have been staged in and around downtown Bochum. The Polish artist Robert Kuśmirowski presented his installation “Der Keller” (“The Cellar”) at the Zeche 1 and the architectural practice “Studio umschichten” initiated a public participation project titled “Opelation”. Another festival highlight was the “Zukunftsfest” (“Future Fest”) which took place on 29 June 2014.
Four issues of the series “Bochumer Positionen”, designed by four different artists, accompanied and documented the project.
The organisers believed that the events would bring the city’s residents and Opel employees closer together and would give them the opportunity to regard each other not as potential competitors for jobs, but partners in a dialogue about the future of their city.
Artistic directors: Olaf Kröck, Sabine Reich, Katja Aßmann
Artists: Asalto, A_zofra, basurama, Kristina Buch, Ross Dalziel, Esto no es un solar, Tim Etchells, Hofmann&Lindholm, Michał Januszaniec, Philip Jeck, Christopher Kondek, Christiane Kühl, Robert Kuśmirowski, Ari Benjamin Meyers, modulorbeat, Heather & Ivan Morison, Mirjam Strunk, Ray Vibration, Studio umschichten, Trayectos, Wojtek Ziemilski and others