The project Between Stopovers is both, point of departure and documentation of a journey that takes the artist couple Sophia Hirsch and Johannes Mundinger from Kehl on the river Rhine via Belgrade to Krakow and Vienna.Chosen at first for merely practical reasons, the trip’s succession of intermediary stops yet becomes its conceptual frame – the conjoining element between these places is their function as a journey’s stopovers. For a short time Johannes Mundinger and Sophia Hirsch draw near these places whose environment thus flows into the murals they create at these waypoints.
In this joint project their intellectual engagement is directed at the idea of urbanity as such, more than at the individual places where they actually are Between Stopovers. It is a journey that deals with the questions of what defines a city, how it develops an identity and how this is constituted. Unlike the classic traveler, the two of them are not drawn to the extraordinary, characteristic or colourful facets of these respective places. Instead they consider places whose identity lies in transit, like parking lots, airports and motorways. Places whose characteristics mostly develop in parallel to their functionality, and to which Sophia Hirsch and Johannes Mundinger, with regards to their own transit situation, feel a special relation of sorts. At the same time, this aspect of the cityscape is subjected to the economic principles of urban development – which places it in a relationship of tension with urban art as a participatory art form that discusses and demands the appropriation of space by the individual.
With the decision to give this idea a physical space through an exhibition and a wall painting here in Belgrade also comes the reflection about the cityscape of this place, which is often compared with Berlin. The omnipresent shadow of Belgrade – Waterfront confronted with a colorful, organic grown cityscape that reflects the complex history of this city simultaneosly saddens and seduces.
It saddens to see space as a place of development and cultural expression becoming scarce, not only in the long gentrified and hip Berlin, but also here. It’s tempting to indulge in this complex cityscape, chase after it, and to join a resistance which is not exactly ours, yet somehow it is. The work of Sophia Hirsch and John Mundinger integrate these competing impressions. Their collage-like compositions express the many facets and the simultaneity of the stories of this city. The abstract language of Johannes Mundinger engages architecture surrounding him, while Sophia Hirsch’s figurations break these image areas and contemplate more individual, more personal moments. In this constant discourse, the artistic duo is struggling with their own composition, pushing each other, almost clustering and overlapping the diverse possibilities of the observations made in a city. Standing in front of Sophia Hirsch and Johannes Mundingers image-tapestry we ask ourselves what our cities will look like in the future. Wandering through our city, will we only encounter passages wherein the only value lies in a monetary value?
Text: Annika Hirsekorn
Supported by Goethe Institut Belgrad, Kulturbüro Kehl, neurotitan, Galerija KM8, Urban Incubator Beograd, Małopolski Ogród Sztuki Cracow