CityX - Signs of Stuttgart
Art Project 2012/15
The overall picture emerging from the 16 pictograms of Stuttgart is dominated by the colours of the state capital: yellow and black. The individual illustrations show the television tower as the city’s famous landmark and other well-known features of the Stuttgart cityscape famous beyond the region’s borders. The descriptions and drawings by the participants in Stuttgart are largely dominated by positive aspects. Besides landmarks and topography, the current entertainment culture, football and the Swabian mentality – represented by the hardworking yet curious advocate of the communal cleaning rota duty – make up important facets of the overall picture. Negative topics, too, such as expensive living space and streets blocked by traffic, are part of this city that is sustained economically by many major companies.
Every cityscape undergoes continuous change and the pictograms possess the quality of denominating not only topographical fixtures and constructional changes, but also the impressions and feelings of the people. The aim of the CityX project is to gather as many facets and voices as possible and make them visible – at the same time, it provides a snapshot of current emotions and opinions. Undoubtedly, a few years earlier or later, different images would be created or certain facets would be more or less predominant, Stuttgart’s controversial and much-discussed construction project “Stuttgart 21” providing an emphatic example of this. Other aspects change with a view to the age group of the participants, for example “Starbucksdinner” being an expression that has youthful associations with the city.
Contrary to traditional cityscapes, the pictograms by Doris Graf are the result of the emotional images of a city as perceived by each participant. Although the wish for “more free space” is present as one motif, many are able to say “I like it here anyway” and “I feel good here”. The city is also the artist’s hometown and, compared to other CityX project cities, a striking number of complex and interwoven pictorial messages can be found in the individual pictograms. Through the everyday experience and the personal affinity with the city, the artist Doris Graf is able to pick up on the inconspicuous and indirect facets of the painted and drawn city images; she evaluates and, using pictograms, translates them into a particularly multi-tiered cityscape. For visitors of the city, such pictograms presumably reveal many unknown and unexpected aspects. Locals, on the other hand, will recognise many things, even if they themselves did not instantly think of these facets. Similar to traditional cityscapes, the pictograms contain generally comprehensible aspects, and through the process of recognition, of making conscious and taking part in the changing picture of the city, they open up more complex levels.
According to a so-called artistic appropriation process, Doris Graf used the drawings produced in Stuttgart to develop an image of the city in the form of pictographic visualisations.