The Largest Art Installation in the World

Photo: RUHR.2010/Manfred Vollmer

The European Capital of Culture RUHR.2010 has launched 311 large yellow helium balloons into the sky and so presented “ShaftSigns,” the largest art installation in the world. On Saturday, May 22, 2010, at noon sharp, all balloons were simultaneously taken to a height of up to 80 meters. They will be visible for nine days over an area of 4,000 km2 and mark the former mine shafts of the Ruhr area to demonstrate the transformation of the former coal and steel region of Ruhr into a metropolis of the future, the Ruhr Metropolis.

Situated in the center of Europe it forms, after London and Paris, the third largest urban agglomeration of the EU. This spectacular project is a reminder of the historical roots and dramatic changes that the old industrial areas have experienced. In the 19th century, the coal industry was the driving engine of the industrial revolution and for hundreds of thousands of people in Europe it was the focus of their work and life and the basis of their wealth.

“These are the stories of people who are active under the ShaftSigns and hence also make the myth comprehensible through their tales. They bring forth the past and link it to the future”, remarks the General Manager of RUHR.2010, Prof. Dr. Oliver Scheytt. “At many ShaftSigns there are miners who permanently sealed up the shaft more than 30 years ago. Nowadays they sit around the table together with committed citizens of the Ruhr Metropolis and with representatives of innovative world-class businesses who have introduced structural change to these places. In this way the motto of the cultural capital ‘Change through culture – culture through change’ is fulfilled.”


Shaft
Signs balloon at the Minister Stein shaft complex in Dortmund-Eving
with Shaft Signs helper
preparing the launch of the balloon / Photo:
RUHR.2010/Oliver Schaper

“I am proud of how profoundly people in Europe’s cultural capital RUHR.2010 have assimilated ShaftSigns as a social work of art”, says project designer and artistic director Volker Bandelow. “The individual creativity and commitment of many associations, businesses and institutions in 39 cities all show how much power, solidarity and energy connects the people here. The dialogue between the generations will open new routes to the future.”

“Shaft Signs” is a social work of art, with the participation of more than 5,000 actors and 2,100 helpers. The project, which will last from May 22 to May 30, 2010, is a community initiative of the European Capital of Culture, RUHR.2010 and the citizens, companies and cities of the Ruhr Metropolis. On May 24 and 29, a further attraction will be added to the work of art: “NightShaftSigns”, the balloons will be illuminated from the inside between 10 PM and 1 AM, and will create a mystical scene around the full moon. 


Shaft Signs long shot: View towards UNESCO world heritage Zollverein in Essen
Photo: RUHR.2010/Jan Pauly

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