participative installation, group ephemer
Ahlen, Münster, Hoyerswerda, 2000, 2004, 2005
Your VALUE is in demand!
What is the VALUEshop?
The VALUEshop does not sell goods and still makes a profit.
The VALUEshop puts values into the room.
The VALUEshop asks: What are values anyway? Who determines which values are valid?
The VALUEshop deals with questions, ideas and stories.
The VALUEshop lives through and with its customers.
As long as it exists, the VALUEshop is open every day.
Customers lend to the VALUEshop personal items from their lives that they associate with a personal value and write a commentary on them. With their objects and comments, the initially empty shelves are filled. New customers can always look at what other customers have left behind and add their values. At the end of the project, the customers collect their personal items.
The VALUEshop in Ahlen (2000)
In the winter of 2000, the cultural centre 'Schuhfabrik' organized a project called 'Crisis' in the small town at the edge of the Ruhr region, which was characterized by unemployment since the closing of the coal mines. The project dealt with the future of work. The association for process-oriented art 'ephemer', which I had co-founded, developed the idea of the VALUEshop for this project. Our first VALUEshop existed for four days in a vacant store in the pedestrian zone of Ahlen and was open around the clock. We asked ourselves and the citizens of Ahlen questions about the value of work and the value of free time and asked them to bring and display objects that stand for 'work' or/and for 'free time' and to write comments about them. Other questions were: What distinguishes work from leisure, where for one is work, what for another is leisure? Does the concept of 'work' destroy human value? Why does society define itself by 'work'? In the store, we laid out texts from a wide variety of groups dealing with similar questions, including the Association for the Promotion of Idleness, the Happy Unemployed from Berlin, and the organizers of the International Day of Doing Nothing. In addition, we showed several performances and offered a leisure hour for politicians. Depending on the audience and the action, the store was transformed into a café, a stage, an exhibition space, a meditation room, and so on.
The VALUEshop in Münster (2004)
In Münster we opened the second VALUEshop in a new temporary art and communication space, the _labor. The organizer was the Linse, an association for communal film work. This time we took a more general approach. At the opening we showed a performance that explicitly dealt with the concept of values. Within the two weeks of the project, 800 visitors came, 100 objects with comments were lent to us. The store found an overwhelming echo in the neighborhood and in the city. Many 'permanent customers' visited us to discuss the topic, to tell 'valuable' stories from their own lives or to read again and again old and new comments on the objects on the shelves. New ideas were hatched and acquaintances made, everyone talked to everyone - which is an unusual phenomenon for Münster. "Such a place of openness, without consumption, that's what we need," was one customer comment. The concept became the subject of a Sunday sermon, and the pastor explicitly invited the congregation to visit us, which resulted in 30 new visitors that same day.
The VALUEshop in Hoyerswerda (2005)
In 2005, as part of the "KunstLandStrich" art campaign, there was a VALUEshop in Hoyerswerda, Ahlen's twin city. For us, after two experiences in West Germany, it was interesting to see how the discussions in Hoyerswerda proceeded and whether different value concepts in East and West could be determined on the basis of our project. In Hoyerswerda, too, the Valueshop found numerous customers and became a place of communication where people immediately started talking about the "really important things in life".