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The Square of the European Promise
by Jochen Gerz in Bochum (Germany) 2007/2010


Over the duration of four years, the Square of the European Promise is created in Bochum. It is an invitation to the citizens of the city of Bochum and the Ruhr area as well as the citizens of Europe to become authors of a new square. All participants contribute their names and each name – inscribed into the square – stands for one promise.

The basis of this art work by Jochen Gerz is the“ Heroes Memorial Hall” of 1931 in the tower of the Christ Church (Christuskirche) with its list of names of Bochum citizens who died in World War I as well as an astonishing second list: The “enemy states of Germany”. It features Germany’s European neighbours. However, not only France, England, Italy, Portugal and the former Czechoslovakia are listed here, but also many other states such as the United States of America and Russia. This prophetic list anticipates World War II and the destruction of Europe.

The Square of the European Promise contrasts both these lists with a third: The names of the living. Their promise stands for a joined future of the people.

Every person gives their promise to themselves. It is secret and free, thus creating an invisible manifest of many voices and cultures – the new Europe.

The Square of the European Promise, which has been commissioned by the city of Bochum, is created as a contribution to the European Capital of Culture Ruhr 2010. It is to be handed over to the public on 31 December 2010, the last day of the year for the duration of which the Ruhr metropolis is the European Capital of Culture.

Jochen Gerz is an internationally recognised German artist. With his work for public spaces he has radically changed the relationship between art and viewer. His processes create new types of public spaces – because they require authorship. The individual is no longer audience but becomes part of the emerging piece of art. Gerz’s art in public spaces becomes the aesthetics of a democracy searching for a new cultural dimension.