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Wie ich über Palermo nach Siena fuhr by Antje Schiffers

Antje Schiffers isn't a painter in the generally accepted sense. This Berlin artist is interested in far more than transferring visual impressions to canvas, yet she finds that her insatiable curiosity disturbs people less when she presents herself as a painter. They then find it easier to understand why she collects impressions and stories so passionately, why she explores relationships and areas of knowledge. Introducing herself not as an exponent of Conceptual Art whose aims might be incomprehensible, but as a painter, she asks for board and lodging in return for painting pictures. In this way, individuals or, as in the present case, whole urban areas commission works from the artist. Kunstprojekte_riem's curator invited Schiffers to stop at Messestadt on her way from Berlin to Siena via Palermo.

In return for board and lodging the artist set out in December 2000 in freezing cold to meet the real commissioners of her Messestadt painting, the area's residents. They expressed a wide variety of concerns in interviews that Schiffers conducted with them in the street in order to discover a suitable motif for her painting. After a number of such conversations she was shown an ideal vantage point from which to obtain a comprehensive view of the new suburb. Her painting, she decided, should depict not only the vastness and emptiness of Messestadt in the winter of 2000 with its new and unfinished buildings and its cranes, but also the remains of the airport that once occupied the site - the control tower and the departures building. After a few days' work in Messestadt the artist moved on. At the end of her travels she exhibited the painting, together with others created during the trip, at a museum in Siena, along with information on how it came to be painted. On her next visit to Messestadt, Schiffers reported on her journey and spoke of the other paintings created during it. She asked the people of Messestadt who would like to hang up her painting and where.

Summer 2001