Workshops in town are rare. A new home for 19 artists is being built on a former industrial site in Lierenfeld. The project was mainly due to private involvement and support from the district council.
Berlin is not only the capital, but also the creative epicenter of the Federal Republic. About 8,000 full-time artists lived in the federal capital in 2018, according to the artists’ social security fund. In the meantime, there should be many more. Some artists come from abroad because their friends are already there. It is difficult for Düsseldorf to keep up with this international surge of big names, especially since studios are becoming scarce. From now on, a circle of artist friends has managed to anchor itself at 100 Königsberger Strasse. And the city has supported the project with 52,000 euros.
The Lierenfeld area belongs to the company Dibag Industriebau in Munich, which took over the Düsseldorf area from the former Duewag wagon factory. Some buildings are listed as monuments, others are in the process of being demolished. Four artists have been staying in the rear section since 2007, who wondered why half of the floor space still housed an old boiler but was otherwise empty. This gang of four, including Biennale participant Paloma Varga Weisz and photographer Stefan Hostettler, who contacted the recently retired head of the cultural department, Hans-Georg Lohe anyway, about the German Photo Institute, opened prom.
Lohe secured financial support from District Council 8. As of spring 2020, they had 30,000 euros from the district building maintenance budget ready for the studios. Lohe collected 22,000 euros. The tough negotiations lasted two years. Newcomers to this artists’ association have even managed to negotiate leases of at least 15 years. Finally, floors and ceilings are perfect and 15 newcomers are rolling up their sleeves. Among them is the duo Hedda Schattanik & Roman Szczesny, who have received the City of Düsseldorf Advancement Award, a scholarship from Julia Stoschek and countless other media awards, grants and exhibitions. Doig’s Japanese student, Satoshi Kojima, a brilliant painter, had already packed his bags and moved to Berlin after leaving the Mintropstrasse studio. His compatriot Ryo Kinoshita, master student of Tomma Abts, who recently exhibited in Amsterdam, amazes the viewer with his relief painting. He had become homeless in Flurstrasse. And now Düsseldorf can count themselves lucky that he stayed.
Retaining artists in Düsseldorf is an important task. If you include the older generation, there are even a total of 19 creative minds. The sculptor Alexander Föllenz, master student of Andreas Gursky, took over the chairmanship of the association, because the tenants manage themselves. He did not give up until the total of 1500 square meters of workshop space for old and new tenants has been sealed off. Föllenz has stored his monumental “Venus von Olympia” in the basement, a cross between the head of Venus von Milo and the body of a bodybuilder with exaggerated anatomy. His 3D printer is on the first floor, with which he tackled a modern Sebastian, for example Föllenz is the only one of the group who even has his own office to store his equipment and his large archive of image material.
The president of the association, Föllenz, has learned a lot from renting and he is happy to pass on his experience to young artists who are looking for a studio like him: “Don’t wait for the city to find you a place, because then you can wait a long time. Go and search yourself. If you have everything perfect except the money for the renovation, then go to the town and district councils and ask for help.”
The inauguration will be celebrated in the coming weeks. Then all the comrades-in-arms who helped set up the studios are invited. In addition to the retired head of the cultural department, Hans-Georg Lohe, his successor Miriam Koch has also promised to pass.