Art Camp: Painting Workshops in Frankfurt: Art, Children and Climate Change

sEpidemics, war and climate change: There is no shortage of crises and their effects are manifold. What is their impact on art, its social value and public presentation? What do they do with children and young people who have been directly affected by school closures or forced flight? Dirk Baumann was guided by these questions when he developed his Art from Crisis. The impetus was provided by the “Cultural Awakening” funding program of the Crespo Foundation and the Municipal Cultural Office. Since September 3, Baumann has invited people to Frankfurt’s Kaiserplatz, where the tent is used “as a kind of pop-up art school for refugees, gallery and charity auction house”.

The painter and performance artist, who actually addressed environmental disasters while studying at Offenbach University of Design, displays a selection of his paintings there, among other things. At first glance they look like an original, but they are amazingly well-executed canvas drawings. “I have no problem trying new things,” he says. He describes presenting his work as prints as an experiment. “I really like the provocation,” he says with a smile. A few years ago he caused an uproar when he showed him Mona Greta, a portrait of environmental activist Greta Thunberg inspired by a Leonardo painting, during several Fridays for Future demonstrations. He remembers that movement suited his artistic focus. In the meantime, Fridays for the Future is getting very quiet.

Workshops ‘as free as possible’

Since then, Baumann has applied the artistic process he experimented with on the graceful Mona Greta to other works. His reinterpretation of Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” shows a barren landscape ravaged by fire. The artist, born in 1980, also took a bold, updated approach to Munch’s “Schrei” and Tischbein’s “Goethe in the Roman Campagna.”

However, the Baumanns tent project is not just about a pandemic-compliant display of his art outside of institutions that have been shaken by a dwindling audience and the need to save. At the heart of ‘Art from Crisis’ are free drawing workshops that take place Tuesdays through Sundays from 2-6pm, targeting disadvantaged children, youth and refugees up to the age of eighteen. “There are other crises we are going through now that are evolving from climate change,” he says. He wanted to reach the children and young people affected by them. In the workshops, they could formulate “dreams and wishes for the future as well as criticize current prominent politicians”. Workshops should be “as free as possible,” he asserts: “I tend to lend a hand.” The works of the young participants are displayed in the tent. The project will conclude on October 2nd with a benefit auction organized by Baumanns in collaboration with the charitable organization “Mary’s Meals”. He hopes that the workshops will have a strong impact on children and youth. But he also sees his project in general as a space for networking and meetings. In the face of many crises, it is important to put a sign of “peace and joy”.

Art from Crisis until October 2, Kaiserplatz, Frankfurt. Information at www.dirkbaumanns.com.

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