Putting people’s own individual stories into a larger context

Project description

A city consists of many people with many stories that are big, small, funny and dramatic. We collect these stories from citizens and they always reveal an idea, a personality, or a feeling. Everybody still has something that reminds him or her of the first love, or the best holidays, or driving the first car or the last pet. We would like to hear all these stories and to exhibit these story-telling things. Found objects represent a whole city and their citizens and visitors.  A permanent changing exhibit reflects a permanently changing city; meaning there is no fixed exhibition collection. Everybody can contribute to the exhibition. The only condition is that the object has to be part of the individual story of the citizens and therefore part of the city.
Every visitor was kindly invited to bring a personal object to the exhibition. By contributing to the exhibition he or she was allowed to remove an object. The only further condition is that he or she has to justify his or her choice to remove an object. They had to write down why they would like to replace an object and to take “the story” to themselves. This exhibition was always dynamic without an ideal situation.  Had it been possible to constantly continue the exhibition, it would have always been with new states of FOUND OBJECTS. By an increasing number of exhibits and stories it would become an enriching network of individual and local stories and history.

How was the project innovative?

The exhibition is permanently changing. The exhibition encourages creating a dialogue between personal stories and stories of other people. By focusing on the personal history it emphasizes the importance of individual memory and puts it into a meaningful context. Every single exhibit has the same value: exactly the value this object represents to its owner. “From teddy bears to bullion”. Although the exhibition has a strong relationshiè to material texture, it is not about the material value of the exhibits, but only about the emotional value for its owner. Everybody who would like to call an object his own, has to give in exchange another object which tells another story. This leads to a combination of material culture of remembrance with a productive and intense dialogue.
How is the project linked to the theme of 20th century European memory?
By presenting personal stories and objects as a history of “Taking and Giving” the exhibition reflects in excerpts and a very individual way the historical development of the 20th century.
By taking away an object and its personal story, a process of dialogue is created that connects the remembrance of the 20th century of one individual with a remembrance of the 20th century of another individual.

Links to the project sources