KaiserFreiStuhl

LAURA POPPLOW
Installation, 2010
(chairs, transducer, sound composition)

KaiserFreiStuhl² – two chairs that make two places talk: The industrial coke plant “Kaiserstuhl”* and the shopping centre “Westfalenforum am Freistuhl”** located between the central station and the city centre. Today, everyone is an emperor and the seat is free.

* Engl. Seat of the Emperor
** In medieval times, this was the seat of a Vehmic Court, a kind of “free court”.




KaiserFreiStuhl² connects two locations in Dortmund: The former industrial coke plant "Kaiserstuhl" and the “Westfalenforum am Freistuhl”, located between the central station and the city centre. Each location represents a different era: the industrial and the post-industrial. Among the industrial ruins and the abandoned shopping mall, are vacant buildings and spaces demanding to be used.

Kaiserstuhl
Everything is overgrown. Flowers, shrubs and trees are taking over the ruins of the former coke plant, now in commission in China’s Zaozhuang district. Water collects in its old foundations. The wooden quench tower still remains; black from the soot of the coal. The long, brick building, that was once the coke oven battery, is slowly falling into disrepair. From a distance, the plant is no longer a spectacular sight, especially since its distinctive chimneys were demolished three years ago. During the explosives demolition, one of the chimneys didn't fall as planned. Instead, with a deviation of 70 degrees, it fell onto old abandoned factory buildings. It is yet to be decided what will happen with the site.

Freistuhl
Car parking near “Freistuhl”. Between the central station and the shopping mall, a public car park is located in the underground garage of the RWE-Tower. This modern office block is the city's tallest building and since restructuring in the RWE concern, it has been the seat of the RWE Westfalen-Weser-Ems AG (the largest energy company in the region). The building’s facade is made of charcoal-coloured Chinese granite and features 1680 mirrored windows. On the square, next to the tower, is a black lacquered steel sculpture, a resonant body that entices some passers-by to play rhythms on it. This might be the original location of the old Dortmund “Freistuhl”, a medieval Vehmic court. Now, the shopping mall "Westfalenforum" is right next door. Many shops are empty. Only the escalator still works, even on weekends.