Ruth Buchanan, A Garden with Bridges (Spine, Stomach, Throat, Ear), Photo: Florian Wagner

Four years after preparations began, an unusual artwork is being realized in the garden of the Mönchengladbach job center. 2023 marks the opening of a place in the middle of the city that aims to suspend the hierarchies that dominate our society. Supplemented by a pavilion meant to serve as a focal point for social interactions, the site will be home to A Garden with Bridges (spine, stomach, throat, ear).

The project responds to a joint request from the job center and the Stiftisches Humanistisches Gymnasium, a local high school. Both institutions jointly approached the New Patrons Initiative in 2018 with the idea of developing a place for social interactions: an open, yet protected site where the urban community could come together. Mediator Kathrin Jentjens tapped New Zealander artist Ruth Buchanan for the commission, which is being implemented through the Kunststiftung im Museum Abteiberg with the help of public and private, local and international funds and – significantly –generous volunteer work on the part of businesses and citizens in the city. Participants include the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia; Kunststiftung NRW; Creative New Zealand; the Heidehof Foundation; the Provinzial Foundation; the Josef & Hilde Wilberz Foundation; Volksbank Mönchengladbach eG, Ernst Kreuder GmbH & Co KG, Mönchengladbach; Dr. Joachim Winckler, Berlin; Bückmann GmbH Mönchengladbach; Quartiersmanagement Q14; and the City of Mönchengladbach.

The New Patrons Initiative produces citizen-commissioned art projects that address current social concerns. Two art projects have been developed in Mönchengladbach as part of a model-funding grant from the German Federal Cultural Foundation: one is for Abteiberg, the other for Wickrath.