About the project „Wenn Felder und Garten …“

„Wenn Felder und Garten … “ is an art-projecting following the gentrification (or re-organisation or deconstruction and re-building) of a small residential neighborhood in Tübingen, Germany called „Wennfelder Garten“.

In the year 2011 I took (work-)residency in an abandoned apartment in the neighborhood. Whenever the apartment-building is demolished I move to another one. That space is the starting point for my project. I connect to the neighboors, the residents. Some of them have already lived here since 50 years. I ask questions about their and the neighborhoods history and about the future. I document what I see in my own individual way as an artist. I create space for participatory projects. All along the borders between the private and the public situation and space are shifting.

The neighborhood „Wennfelder Garten“ was build in the 50s and 60s, giving home to the people returning from the war, next to a French army base. (The Allies had bases all over Germany back then …) Since then it has been mainly social housing. After the French left in the 90s, their buildings were turned into a modern neighborhood winning all kinds of prizes for city-planning and architecture worldwide. There are almost daily tourist tours guiding through the streets of the „French Quarter“ („Französisches Viertel“).

Yet the „Wennfelder Garden“ gained nothing from the fame. After more than 10 years the street separating the two neighborhoods still seems to be a strict border no side really passes. There are exceptions: the bakery, the city-daycare and a public square where the French used to park their tanks. With the gentrification everything might change.

About myself

Hanna Smitmans, I am artist and art-teacher. My work examines how people are building their lives within their specific social context. I am exploring places, buildings and landscapes. I am reflecting on the interaction between people and their surrounding. My points of departure might be: a torn wallpaper in a deserted building, a waiter’s hands, a refugee’s work clothes. In the light of such objects and images I am showing the societal codes.

My media are photography, drawings and moving images. With my camera, I am observing and conducting interviews. I like to work on site-specific installations. Found material such as wallpaper, magazines and hand-made objects are part of the newly created visual landscape.

I studied art at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, the Cooper Union of Art and Architecture in NYC (with Hans Haacke, Douglas Ashford, Margaret Morton …). Other teachers were my grandparents Johann Brand and Anneliese Brand-Schlagheck (Osnabrück), Michael Helm (Nürtingen), Andre Klein (Amsterdam), John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres (NYC), Horst Herz (Dortmund) as well as many of the people and all the good friends I meet along the road.


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