Circle Altenburg IPIHAN#8
I was in Altenburg for the IPIHAN#8 exhibition opening, I went there on foot and came a few days earlier than expected. So I asked if I could make a circle, luckily they gave me the best spot there was.
The place is an abandoned warehouse and factory with two coupled courtyards completely overgrown. My spot was on the central courtyard on the crossing of several “use-trails” (olifantenpad in Dutch). This crossing of natural paths was already in use for a makeshift barbecue and was prone to become the village square.
My intervention was to remove all vegetation and roots so to recover the pavement as it was way back when the building was in use. By doing this meticulously the place becomes like an archeological finding and because it is a perfect circle it is very intense and present. You can not not notice it. At first sight it is not clear to everybody that what you see is the recovered original pavement, because of the perfect geometry it also looks very artificial, like you would copy-paste a circle of pavement texture in photoshop into an image of wild nature.
The size of the circle was defined by the surrounding trees and ferns and was shy of 5 meter diameter, the size of the circle is defining its type of social gathering place. make it smaller (like last year in Zeits) and it becomes a much more intimate place for only one small group, make it twice as big and it will be a public square without cohesion between groups of people. Every size has its own social mechanics.
Funny thing is that only small children would stand right in the middle, otherwise that spot would stay empty or one would put a table there. The night before the opening we where about 16 persons and we would snugly fit sitting in a full circle, The busy night of the opening the circle was populated by several small groups but never one big one, often three or four smaller circles of people filled up the space leaving some room for passers by. The day of the exhibition the circle was used for public announcements, one would stand right in the middle to gather a group of people for guided tours of the exhibition, the size of the circle defining the size of the groups.
I made a super small circle the size of an oil drum in the second courtyard and uncovered a completely different pavement, this circle was not really meant to be seen or used as it was sitting outside of the main walking routes. Because of its size and the perfect black speckled white granite this circle looked much more photoshopped than the big one. The small size makes it fit for only one person, because it was evoking being placed under the spotlight only certain persons would stand into the circle, most others would stand around it on the vegetation, something that never happened with the big circle, the vegetation was a no go there.