Hierophanie 1

CR 108. Year 1993

Hierophanie Jochen Gerz Cr 108 Web
Hierophie 1 Jochen Gerz Cr 108 3 Web1
Hierophanie 1 Jochen Gerz Cr 108 Web 2
Hierophanie 1 Jochen Gerz Cr 108 Web1
Hierophanie 1 Jochen Gerz Cr 108 1 Web1

Sie haben soeben einen Stadtplan bekommen, einen Stadtplan von Hamburg. Hamburg ist die Stadt, in der Sie wahrscheinlich leben oder zumindest die Stadt, wo wir uns jetzt befinden.

Gerz has decisively shifted the emphasis of the artwork away from being an object toward being a living process. The criteria: immateriality instead of materiality (not limited to conceptuality), the function of process rather than its character as an object, experienced rather than objectified (and hence suppressed) remembrance/recollection. Thus Gerz fundamentally changes the idea of authorship: the artist is no longer the one and only author, who conceives his/her work in its entirety, and even creates the same. In Gerz’s process-based works, the artist merely conceives the framework, laying down the conditions of the discourse by which people drawn into the process are called upon to act. The artist can neither predict nor determine how they are going to act.

Andreas Hapkemeyer 2008

Through this powerful inversion of the traditional model of a sightseeing tour, Gerz gathered testimonies triggered by places with strong personal association for the participants who presented them. This shift in concept and perception meant that a past experience could suddenly become very present, allowing the participants, as the authors of "their" city tour, to go public, to publish themselves. … The way this kind of work connects historical events to personal experience and deeds not only reflects the responsibility each individual bears for and in his or her time but also underlines the distinction that Gerz's work always makes between Erinnerungen (memories) and kollektivem Gedächtnis (collective memory). Remembering is a reactivation of life that has been lived, whereas history is always a construction of the past. Without this construction, however, memory remains an individual, uncommunicated past. It can only acquire collective meaning and have a social impact if there is a constant exchange between lived life and constructed past. The artistic approach facilitates this collective creation of a meaning that transcends isolated experience and brings people together through participation in a new, shared experience. As early as 1969, Gerz's Alternatives to Memory linked these two aspects - memory and memories - and "brought people together", as the exhibition catalogue said. The spaces between the two, the interstice, is open to the participating authors, and by connecting their voices by linking the singular and the plural, it is possible to shift meanings.

Marion Hohlfeldt 2016



City map with marked travel route
Duration approx. 2 hours

The performance is part of the Stadtfahrt project sponsored by the Hamburg Culture Authority. The participants in a bus trip mark a spot they associate with a personal experience on a city map. The various spots are connected to form a travel route which the bus follows. Each participant tells his story at the respective location.

See also Hierophanie 2 (119).


Hamburg, 26.9.1993, 10.30am and 7.30pm


I: Hamburg 1993, pp. 135-144. Bolzano 1999, p. 127. Frankfurt/New York 2016, pp. 107-108.

Access general bibliography


Postcard, ink on paper, 10,4 x 14 cm

Video stills: © 1993 Stadtfahrt Tour / Sabine Siegfried, Eva Bothe & Martin Kreyssig

Video, 31 min, Stadtfahrt Tour (Hierophanie 1) (697)
Vidéo Les Beaux Jours, Strasbourg and imai, inter media art institute, Düsseldorf

My name is Jochen Gerz