Brad Downey’s controversial work at ARTotale

There has been a lot of cool work going up for the ARTotale event at Leuphana University, but this is one particularly interesting piece by Brad Downey.


And no, McDonald’s did not pay for that.

Here’s a bit of an explanation from Daniela Kummle, one of the university students:

With the change of university board in 2006 arrived an era of radical reformations at the Lüneburg university. This reformations did not only include the mandatory realization of the Bologna process but also a massive restructuring of the university. Especially the re-naming and the aligned marketing- and image campaign caused public stir. The new image of the university is clearly influenced by marketing considerations such as in private economies. A well-known German advertising agency invented the new name “Leuphana” and developed a “brand” logo which – in some peoples view – rather evokes associations of a car brand than of a university.

Along with these changes comes another big project – the building of a giant lecture hall (Audimax) by the world wide famous architect Daniel Libeskind. The costs are said to add up to a 62 billion euro. In order to avoid a public bid invitation for the building contract, Libeskind was made part-time professor at the Leuphana – not for the benefit of the students though – as he is rarely giving lectures at all.

Overall, the reformation of the university has aroused remarkable suspicion and critique both amongst students and lecturers. In the light of marketing campaigns and a giant construction project, many expressed intelligible suspicion about the use of tuition fees. In 2007, a website appeared which caused further confusion. ‘’ is a mock university homepage which resembles the business-like tone of the new university president. As the page copies the official university pages visual style they look at first sight almost identical. The page also contains an “advertisement” video for the university. This video portraits the university’s campus as a high security area where access is only possible after showing one’s ID. It furthermore shows the university as being sponsored by Coca Cola.

Brad Downey’s contribution to the Art Totale, which goes in line with the welcome week for the first semester students, has lead to further discussions about Leuphana’s politics. An artwork that could in other context be read as a plain provocation acquires a deeper social and political meaning within in the recent history of this specific university. It imbibes the earlier articulated fears of critics, that forsee Leuphana becoming somewhat of a private university serving primarily economic interests. By raising disturbance and maybe even irritation, it functions well as a means of re-initiating the current discourse amongst the students. It will now take time to see, whether the Leuphana will incorporate its own institutional critique by allowing the work to be a permanent installation.

And there is a short interview with Brad about the piece over on Ekosystem.

Just has plenty of other photos from the event.

ARTotale: another street art festival



Rik Reinking’s latest curatorial project looks to be his biggest yet. He is going the FAME Festival route and just about taking over a city. Leuphana, Germany will be the site of the ARTotale – Urban Art Project from October 5th to 9th.

Here’s the press release:

More than 35 internationally renowned streetartists have been invited to install their work at various locations throughout the city centre and university campus. They are encountering broad support among the city‘s population. Numerous house owners have agreed to their buildings‘ walls being used for graffitis and other artworks. As part of Leuphana’s 2009 Welcome Week, the Urban Art Project will be recorded by 1.200 first-year students who will document the event by shooting videoclips that will be presented through an online media platform. The renowned urban art curator from Hamburg, Rik Reinking, will be leading the creative direction of the event. Expanding the potential spectatorship of this event well beyond the city‘s physical boundaries, public television stations will also document the interaction between artists, students and the population of Lueneburg during this rare presentation of contemporary art within the context of the city‘s medieval centre.

The artists invited to participate on this project come from a diverse mixture of nationalities and contemporary art backgrounds. They will reshape the appearance of Lueneburg’s historic township using: murals, classic graffiti writing, cut-outs, sculptures, installation art and performance art. The incorporation of this wide selection of urban art forms as well as their unique technical and contextual application in the historical center of Lueneburg have already begun to make it clear that this project will be a landmark event in the development and presentation of contemporary urban art. The artists participating in this event are leaders of their genre, a new generation of emerging creative producers. Their highly refined and precisely contextualized work is an indication of the future aesthetics of contemporary public art. Without loosing their deep connection to urban culture and the public sphere, these artists have already begun to assume representation in leading museums and galleries worldwide.

And who are the artists involved? Well it’s a long list:

Adam & Akay, Akim, Alex Diamond, Almut Linde, Ash, Ben Eine, Brad Downey, Boris Hoppek, Boxi, Bronco, Daniel Man, Dave the Chimp, D*face, DTAGNO, Faith47, Flying Förtress, Herakut, Herbert Baglione, Jay-One, Loomit, Mirko Reisser (DAIM), Moki & 1010, Mode2, Pius Portmann, SKKI, Swoon, Tilt, Trica, Tryone, Vitché & Jana, Word2mother, Zevs, Zezao, 56K

Highlights from that list for me are Brad Downey, Herakut, D*face, Faith47, Zezao, Swoon and Vitche. I might just have to try and visit the festival myself for the chance to see Zezao’s work in person. If only I weren’t already going to both Nuart and FAME (not that those won’t be awesome as well).