We’ll Always Have Büdelsdorf – bye:myself at the NordArt 2017

We’ll Always Have Büdelsdorf – since every year, hence, also in 2017, the NordArt is taking place in this forlorn suburb with the quirky name.

City sign Büdelsorf and a sign advertising for the NordArt2017
Welcome to the town where one of Europe’s largest art fairs is taking place; I kid you not.

Don’t judge an art event by its location: The annual NordArt is one of Europe’s biggest exhibitions of contemporary art.

I don’t know what Büdelsdorf sounds like to foreign-language speakers.

To Germans, it evokes images of flat, green pastures. Of farmers in mud-smeared gumboots, drinking beer from a bottle on a bench in front of their houses, greeting bypassers with a terse Moin.
This, by the way, is the time-consuming North German form of greeting at any time of the day.

Liu Ruo Wang's Wolves Coming at the NordArt 2017 in Büdelsdorf
This year, Liu Ruo Wang’s Wolves Coming is arranged in the Kunstwerk Carlshütte’s sculpture garden. In 2016, it was placed in the main exhibition hall where this year….

But every summer, Büdelsdorf welcomes tens of thousands of visitors when the NordArt takes place.

Xu Bing's Phoenix at the NordArt 2017 in Büdelsdorf
…Xu Bing’s Phoenix spread their wings, made of discarded material.
Another outstanding, fun work by Xu Bing (*1955) was introduced in an earlier post.

Büdelsdorf isn’t even a town, it’s sort of a suburb of a small town called Rendsburg. So this might give you an idea of how secluded it really is. In English, you call a place like this politely secluded. The Spaniards have a more rustic expression for it: en el culo del diablo – in the devil’s butt.

But I assure you it’s worth travelling into the devil’s…bowels. Because since 1999, there is this spectacular art event taking place.

Why Büdelsdorf?

Why Büdelsdorf of all places? The answer can be foreseen – it’s, as always, a question of space and money. In 1827, the Carlshütte iron foundry was opened and operated for 170 years. When the business closed in 1997, Hans-Julius Ahlmann, Managing Partner of the internationally active ACO Group, took over the grounds with its enormous industrial halls and the historic housing. Since then, it’s been used for various cultural projects. Hence, also every summer for the NordArt.

 Václav Gatarik's Family has been at Carlshütte at the NordArt in Büdelsdorf since 2005 and is now part of the permanent sculpture garden.
Václav Gatarik’s Family has been at Carlshütte since 2005 and is now part of the permanent sculpture garden.

Most of the statues and installations in the sculpture park remain in their places. Obviously, since they are made of iron, stone, and marble, hence, a bit heavy to be shuffled around on the garden’s 861,112 square feet too often. Contrary to the exhibition at the industrial hall that are presenting an interesting selection of contemporary artist every year.

Garden of the Carlshütte in Büdelsdorf.
A pleasant family picnic in the lush garden surrounded by beautiful sculptures.

Although you don’t find the big, important names here, you’ll get to see fresh, inspiring art from all over the world. Also, at the opening, with free entrance for everybody, you get to meet many of the artists in person.

Berlin-based artist Jacinta Besa (*1987) from Chile in front of her work 'Look What I Found I - III', getting her picture taken by her compatriot and fellow artist María Ossandón (*1986)
Berlin-based artist Jacinta Besa from Chile in front of her work Look What I Found I – III, getting her picture taken by her compatriot and fellow artist María Ossandón – and bye:myself.

NordArt 2017

In 2017, 3,682 artists from 99 countries applied for showing their masterpieces.

Although that number of applications was slightly lower than in 2016, and the hall offered space for exhibitions on 236,806 square feet, of course, not everybody was admitted. Finally, there were about 200 artists on display.

Every year the focus is on a partner country. In 2017, this happened to be Denmark, bordering the German federal country of Schleswig-Holstein. Hence, they practically just had to hop over the border.

 Liu Ruo Wang's The East is Red
Liu Ruo Wang’s The East is Red

Also, in 2017, Kunstwerk Carlshütte was the official partner of the celebration of 45 years of diplomatic relations between Germany and the People’s Republic of China.

Panels by Ren Rong at the NordArt 2017 in Büdelsdorf.
Rusty iron ‘paper cuts’ by Bonn-based Chinese artist Ren Rong are decorating the venue’s sculpture garden…

Therefore the NordArt focussed once again on artists from the Middle Kingdom.

Hans Schohl Store for Heavenly Mechanics at the NordArt 2017 in Büdelsdorf
…just like these three rusty houses. Rust seems to be the new black.
Hans Schohl’s Store for Heavenly Mechanics is also part of the permanent exhibition.

David Černý

Last – and definitely not least – there was David Černý from the Czech Republic, winner of the 2016th NordArt Prize. Consequently, this made him the 2017th Focus Artist.

David Černý's self-portrait Černý from the series FACES
David Černý’s self-portrait Černý from the series FACES, hanging next to portraits of J. Robert Oppenheimer and Wernher von Braun – whom I initially mistook for Putin.
 Detail from J. Robert Oppenheimer's portrait - assembled from thousands of small pieces.
Detail from J. Robert Oppenheimer’s portrait – assembled from thousands of small pieces.

In his hometown Prague, there are by now 14 installations in public spaces.

At the NordArt, he tops this by presenting 19 of his really fun sculptures and installations.

A crafting set from the KITS-series: Assemble your personal Jesus – in life-size! There are also a Rockstar and an Artist in the exhibition to be freed from their cellophane package… Not everybody understands Černý’s acid humor, and the Czech enfant terrible already caused some scandals; but isn’t that what art is all about?!

I’m introducing some of Černý’s streetart in my post Three Days In Prague – For First-Timers & Repeat Visitors.

Sigmund Freud hanging in there. In Prague, he’s hanging even higher over the street Husová.

What to Know When Visiting the NordArt

On this page, you’ll find all relevant information you need before – and while – visiting the NordArt.

How to Get to Büdelsdorf

You get to Rendsburg by train from Hamburg in less than 90 minutes, from Berlin in about 3,5 hours (via Hamburg). From the train station it’s a 15 minutes walk to the Kunstwerk Carlshütte.

Hamburg train station with regional trains taking you to the NordArt 2017 in Büdelsdorf.
Regional trains that you can ride all day long with just one single ticket.

Here’s a special tip for you Germany-travellers: For about 25 Euro you can travel an entire day by train within every federal country. However, you are only allowed to take regional trains, not IC or ICE. The best part is: each further person pays only 4 Euro, up to 5 persons can travel on one regional day ticket.

Due to its central position, Hamburg is automatically included in three tickets (Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg Western Pomerania, and Lower Saxony (that includes also Bremen)).

Büdelsdorf is in Schleswig-Holstein, and the day ticket for one person is 28 Euro.

In this post, you’ll find everything you need to know before – and during – visiting Germany.

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