Antje Schiffers & Thomas Sprenger and the artist´s initiative myvillages.org BOXBERG PRODUCTS
Location: International Village Shop, Findlingspark Nochten/ Boxberg
Every year, ÜBER TAGE - an art project for the Lusatian Lake District - develops new ideas capable of generating added value for all participants - ideas which strengthen local identity while offering visitors insights into the region's special charms. To satisfy these contrasting demands via one or more art projects is a challenging task, and one that can be achieved only in the form of collaborative projects.
With the Berlin team of Antje Schiffers and Thomas Sprenger, we have succeeded in recruiting two artists with much experience collaborating in a goal-directed way with local residents to make art in rural regions. Both have traveled for years making visits to villages throughout Europe, meeting farmers and asking them to make films about their own work, thereafter painting portraits of the farms, that ultimately remain on-site. "I like being a farmer, and I want to remain one" is the title of this long-term project. Some people may ask: Where is the art in this - aside from the oil painting? The art lies in the encounter itself, in taking agriculturalists seriously and in conveying a message about their "outer worlds" via poetic and entertaining films - messages that would interest no one in the absence of the art.
The Schiffers & Sprenger project "Boxberg Product" has the same objective. The point of departure was the question: What is typical of this locality? What is characteristic of production in rural areas? What would residents like to convey to a wider public, one lying beyond the borders of Lusatia? And
how can people join forces to develop a useful object that would stand as a typical local commodity?
The development of this product, hence, was preceded by lively discussions and an intense exchange of ideas. Antje Schiffers describes one of these encounters in a letter: "Everyone agreed that the product shouldn´t be something that is just lying around." What resources, materials, and natural wealth were available, aside from coal? Frau Gruner of the local heritage association of Uhyst brought some blue stone. This blue stone is a byproduct of glass manufacture which has found its way, among other things, into brickworks, and is therefore seen on old walls. Sand was discussed, since it is the prevailing local soil, and is connected to the glass industry. From sand, the conversation turned toward forests. Earlier, people took visitors to harvest mushrooms or berries - what else was there to do?
It was resolved that the Boxberg Product should be some kind of foodstuff. Frau Gruner proposed linseed oil from the fields - it comes from the area, is sold in bulk by butchers in Uhyst, and is said to be delicious. The second mayor asserted that a really genuinely local foodstuff was instead ‘Uhyster Quirlfett’, a kind of ‘schmalz’ made from pork fat drippings. If the project was to be associated with local foodstuffs, the container must also reflect this. How might it express local identity?
And how would a product like that to be promoted? Useful here was an idea Antje Schiffers had used for years together with her colleagues from the artist's initiative "myvillages.org", namely the "International Village Shop." These shops - actually simple sales stands - are seen already in a number of communities in Germany, the Netherlands, and England, and can be set up temporarily anywhere. They contain regional products produced specially for them. By using a cash box based on the honor system (honesty box) , such products can be acquired, either to give as gifts or to keep for oneself. Such an "International Village Shop" will be set up now in Findlingspark Nochten, which at the moment enjoys the greatest volume of visitors. There will also be products from other villages, just as the "Boxberg Product" will be available in other village shops. And as with most marketing launches of new products, a promotional film is being produced, one that shows how everything began...
B i o g r a p h y
born in Heiligendorf bei Wolfsburg
1987 - 1995
studies in art, German language and literature, and philosophy Hochschule für Bildende Künste and Braunschweig Technical University
master student at the Kunsthochschule Braunschweig
Sprengel Prize for Fine Arts of the Lower Saxon Sparkassenstiftung
born in Braunschweig
1986 - 1994
studies in industrial engineering at Berlin Technical University, Diploma degree in industrial engineering
Antje Schiffers and Thomas Sprenger have worked together since 2004.
C u r r e n t p r o j e c t s
International Village Kiosk, Boxberg (D), Lubrza (Pl), Springhornhof, Neuenkirchen (D), Grizedale Arts, Lake District (GB)
Die geheimen Monologe, Lentos-Museum, Linz
2008 - 2012
Fünf-Jahres-Plan Fanas, Museum in Bewegung, Prättigau (CH)
Im August, town portrait, interventions, Pulheim
Mein Bruder erzählt Gerüchte über mich, book and wall project for the Carl-Zeiss-Oberschule in Berlin
2007 - 2009
Ich bin gerne Bauer und möchte es auch gerne bleiben, collaboration with European agriculturalists
I n d i v i d u a l e x h i b i t i o n s (selected)
Ich bin gerne Bauer und möchte es auch gerne bleiben, Städtische Galerie Nordhorn
Großes Bauern-Theater, Secession, Vienna
Antje Schiffers, Sprengel Museum Hannover
Unter Ingenieuren, Berlin / Siemens arts program
G r o u p e x h i b i t i o n s (selected)
Ich kann mir ja nicht jeden Tag ein Ohr abschneiden, Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin
Vertrautes Terrain, ZKM Karlsruhe
Dr´hoim isch dr´hoim, Kunstverein Ludwigsburg
Bin Beschäftigt, GAK, Bremen
Why we left the village and came back, Shrewsbury Museum (mit myvillages.org)