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Art in the Fabeckstraße and the Campus Library

The “Holzlaube” of the Freie Universität Berlin is not only the site of scholarship and research, but now also of art.

The Berlin artist Robert Patz won the competition to design the interior artwork of the “Holzlaube” in 2016. For his work titled “Tricksters Plan” Platz earned 3,500 € prizemoney. The artwork consists of three parts, all of which can be viewed in the “Holzlaube.”

News from Nov 02, 2018

“The coyote appears again and again”

“Tricksters Plan” combines the various areas in and outside of the Holzlaube: In the foyer of the Campus Library stands a large mural on the wall, mounted in the form of wallpaper, in the scale of 350 square meters. The mural shows a dense and wild fabric with pictorial and narrative elements and stands in stark juxtaposition to the orderly bookshelves of the library. Due to its intricacy and size, the mural reveals new discoveries and details upon each visit. Additionally, different colored installations were mounted in each of the six stairwells of the building. These elements are constructed of two to six aluminum segments formed to mimic rolled book pages. The aluminum pages depict similar pictorial elements to those on the mural in the Campus Library. In front of the Holzlaube, a one meter high sculpture of a coyote was erected. Made of the same Alaskan cedar wood as the Holzlaube facade, the coyote is a recurring motif in the aluminum scrolls and the mural as well.

The coyote stands for the “trickster,” borrowed from the works of biologist and philosopher of science, Donna Harraway. “For her, the Trickster is a figure that corresponds to the world,” explains Robert Patz, “because the world is constantly evading science or the aspiration to research. When we discover something or answer questions, there always emerge new questions. ‚Tricksters Plan‘ is a work that is about the philosophy of science, specifically about how research is conducted at the university, as well as the methods of teaching, and the relationship between the latter two.

“The viewers should recognize themselves in the artwork”

Robert Patz made multiple visits to the campus during the creation of his work to talk with many users of the Campus Library and the building. “That was great,” says Patz, who is a doctorand at the post graduate program “Das Wissen der Künste” at the Universität der Künste. “For example, we touched upon the topic of the self-perception of the philosophy of science. Compared to the natural sciences or technology, the smaller disciplines are expected to make their relevance clear and to structure themselves a bit differently. I found this interesting.” The artwork is not an abstract object, but rather it offers a space where anecdotes, narratives, images, and the experiences of the viewers can come together. The viewers should be able to recognize themselves in the work and build a personal relationship to the place.

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