we’ll always have büdelsdorf – bye:myself at the NordArt2017

I don’t know what “Büdelsdorf” sounds like to foreign language speakers; to Germans it evokes images of flat, green pastures and farmers in mud-smeared gumboots, drinking beer from a bottle on a bench in front of their houses, greeting bypassers with a terse ‘Moin’ – the North German form of greeting at any time of the day, although strictly it means ‘Good Morning’.

But every summer, Büdelsdorf welcomes tens of thousends visitors when the NordArt takes place, one of Europe’s biggest exhibition of contemporary art.

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….
(Photo: ⓒNordArt2017. Liu Ruowang)

bye:myself: PICTURE OF XU BING'S PHOENIX Construction Debris
…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.
(Photo: ⓒNordArt2017. Xu Bing)

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 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, and last Saturday was this year’s opening (and it will go on till October 8, 2017).

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 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 project, thus also every summer for the NordArt.

While most of the statues and installations in the sculpture park remain in their places – they are made of iron, stone, and marble, so a bit heavy to be shuffled around on the garden’s 861,112 square feet too often – the exhibition at the industrial hall shows every year an interesting selection of young, contemporary artist.

A pleasant family picnic in the lush garden surrounded by beautiful sculptures.

Although you don’t find the big, important (German) names here, you’ll get to see fresh, inspiring art from all over the world – and 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) (and bye:myself).

This year, 3,682 artists from 99 countries applied for showing their master pieces. Although this number was slightly lower than in 2016, and the hall offers space for exhitions on 236,806 square feet, of course not everybody was admitted, so finally there are about 200 artists on display.

Phew, there’s a lot of walking to do if you want to see everything. Therefore it’s good that the organizers placed chairs between the exhibition walls and the remains of the old appliances and machines.

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

Plus in 2017, Kunstwerk Carlshütte is official partner of the celebration of 45 years diplomatic relations between Germany and the People’s Republic of China, therefore the NordArt focusses once again on artists from the Middle Kingdom.

Rusty iron ‘paper cuts’ Bonn based Chinese artist Ren Rong (*1960) is famous for are standing in the venue’s sculpture park…
…just like these three rusty houses. Rust seems to be the new black.

Last – and definitely not least – there is David Černý (*1967) from the Czech Republic, winner of 2016th NordArt Prize and therefore 2017th Focus Artist. 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?!

David Černý’s self portrait “Černý” from the series FACES, hanging next to portraits of J. Robert Oppenheimer and Wernher von Braun (who I first took for Putin).

Detail of J. Robert Oppenheimer’s portrait – assembled from thousands small pieces.

Visiting the NordArt2017

Plakate NordArt2017
Get all necessary visitor’s info

Cheap and comfortable daytripping

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.

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; but you are only allowed to take the 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *