CityX - Ich, Ulm
Art project, 2014/15, Cathedral tower anniversary, Ulm
The 32 pictograms of the city of Ulm were created on the occasion of the Münsterturm cathedral tower anniversary. This cathedral marks the cityscape and at a height of almost 162 metres, it boasts the world’s highest church tower; here, it represents a central motif in the questionnaires and drawings of many visitors and locals in this city. The steps leading to the observation deck can be climbed, the tip of the tower hides in wisps of fog and it is not uncommon for the cathedral to be “too big to fit” – at least within the square drawing field on the questionnaires given by the artist to the citizens and visitors of this city.
Some pictograms are marked by the content of the cityscape; in others, the graphic form is dominant at first glance. What all 32 motifs have in common is the framing consisting of two vertical halves, which alludes to the city arms with its two horizontal parts in the colours black and white.
Also part of the cityscape, besides the cathedral, are the famous Ulm sparrow and the Danube with the natural landscape surrounding it, but the old town with the Blau River, the economics and university centre on the Eselsberg hill and the shopping opportunities are also represented. A striking amount of space is dedicated to the suburbs, various leisure activities and the recreation aspect. Doris Graf astutely noted that the city of Ulm must look like a small island to visitors, surrounded by water, dominated by nature and on the island – inhabited by a colourful sparrow – the cathedral. This summary by the artist is compounded in pictorial form as “the essence of the essence”. But the landmarks are not the only features to have entered the drawings of Ulm; single individuals, too, such as Albert Einstein or the Mayor Ivo Gönner are addressed. In addition – to the great surprise of all – we see a poor woman, the “Lady outside Müller”. Almost every day she sells her handmade knitwear outside the drugstore.
Overall, the pictograms on the city of Ulm are dominated by a positive attitude to life, feeling good in one’s hometown and a sense of contentedness. Pictograms such as “When the sun shines” or “Upon Blau River” illustrate the individual and personal perspective of these cityscapes. As regards criticism of the city made visible here, Ulm clearly stands apart from the metropolises in Brazil and Turkey – what is perceived as negative are the construction sites, 30 km/h zones and insufficient parking space.
According to a so-called artistic appropriation process, Doris Graf used the drawings produced in Ulm to develop an image of the city in the form of pictographic visualisations.