“Replika“ at night, photo © Gerhardt Kellermann
by Esther Schulze-Tsatsas
Aug 6, 2012

It is rather quiet in Munich’s Hofgarten on this rainy Saturday afternoon in July. You can hear the clacking of metal balls thrown by boules players braving this not-so-summery weather. Passers-by hurry along the adjacent arcades. Everything seems to be business as usual. And yet there’s something different about this place, something isn’t as it has been for the past 400 years.

For a few days now, textile curtains, over four meters long, adorn the 88 arches of the Hofgarten’s north-west arcade. At times, when gathered up, they offer a glimpse of the shops and cafés behind them; at others their long lengths envelop the arcades, billowing softly in the wind. The place suddenly takes on a rather poetic appearance; the textile veils dim the light and radiate tranquility. One is reminded of the flowing white curtains seen in Venice’s Piazza San Marco. This parallel is however no coincidence, Venice was after all the birthplace of the original idea for the art installation “Replika”.

For the first time in the history of the Hofgarten, a competition tendered by the City of Munich Department of Arts and Culture has enabled the realization of an artistic intervention in the famous garden. “Aspects of art and design in the public space” was the title of the competition, from which “Replika” then emerged as the winner, chosen from the 260 entries received. The project by Munich-based designers Ayzit Bostan and Gerhardt Kellermann, realized in collaboration with both the Bavarian Administration of State-Owned Palaces, Gardens and Lakes and the City of Munich, plays with the temporary transformation of a local thoroughfare – the intention being to encourage people to contemplate the space, stop and spend time there.

In their idea for “Replika” Ayzit Bostan and Gerhardt Kellermann have addressed the concept of shifting a space, not in an attempt to create a copy but as a respectful homage to one of the most famous squares in the world. It was during a visit to the Venice art biennial that the fashion designer and artist Ayzit Bostan noticed the architectural parallels between the Hofgarten and Piazza San Marco and the sensuousness of the Venetian curtains, which now somehow seemed to always have been missing from the Hofgarten’s arcades.

She was left with a desire to take a piece of this wonderful aura home to Munich – to introduce elements of Italian architectural artistry into Munich’s architectural landscape in line with the local historical tradition. And this is what led to her decision to take part in the competition, together with Gerhardt Kellermann, a photographer and industrial designer, whose professional and private path had crossed with that of Ayzit Bostan many a time over the years.

A brilliant inauguration was held to officially open “Replika” to the public and included several addresses from the Munich culture scene, a pyrotechnic show, a very personal speech by longtime friend Konstantin Grcic and an impressive live performance by French sound artist Koudlam held next door in the premises of the Munich Art Association.

At nightfall, Bostan and Kellermann’s inclination for the temporary become evident yet again: The curtains, made of phosphorescent material, “store up” daylight. And so, in the dim twilight, for one short moment, the installation’s luminescence brings day to night and lends the Hofgarten a mystical shimmer. And there it is again – that Venetian sensuousness, shifted 450 kilometers to the north.

“Replika” can be seen in Munich’s Hofgarten until October 22, 2012. There are also plans for a fringe program with concerts, readings and light installations.

Part of the 88 arcades of the temporary installation, photo © Dimitrios Tsatsas
The textile curtains can be gathered manually, photo © Dimitrios Tsatsas
Video © Gerhardt Kellermann
“Replika“ is an homage to Piazza San Marco, photo © Dimitrios Tsatsas
Hofgarten’s north-west arcade, photo © Dimitrios Tsatsas
The textiles are bringing a new poetic appearance into the Hofgarten, photo © Dimitrios Tsatsas
The wind causes soft movements of the curtains, photo © Dimitrios Tsatsas
Gathered up the curtains offer a glimpse of the passage behind, photo © Dimitrios Tsatsas
The phosphorescent material store up daylight, photo © Dimitrios Tsatsas
Ayzit Bostan and Gerhardt Kellermann, photo © Martin Fengel