Das zwanzigste Jahrhundert
The Twentieth Century
Oberhausen, Germany 1996
Jochen Gerz and Esther Shalev-Gerz
Between February and April of 1996, the readers of two daily newspapers in the Ruhr were invited to respond to the following question: If the twentieth century were to take place again, what would you change? They wrote their replies directly onto the page and returned it to the newspaper. All 228 contributions were later exhibited in the former gasometer of Oberhausen that, in the meantime, had become an exhibition centre. The newspaper transformed itself into an interactive medium. Its readiness to invite readers to contribute to the artwork and to make their contributions public in an exhibition led to an unusual dialogue, which involved not only journalists but also other employees working in the newspapers. The reactions of the readers to the question were often astonishing. Answers varied from the political, private, humorous, playful and grave.

If I had the chance to change something about this century, I would happily strike all notions of atomic energy from the heads of the physicists. Chernobyl, Hiroshima and so forth speak for themselves against atomic energy.

The elimination of nearly all problems with the introduction of birth control in all the nations of the world. Pension-financing by way of fewer children, since the unemployed cannot pay for pension plans and are not even ‘needed’ as tank drivers, since even weapons technology requires fewer people.

The persecution of foreigners (Jews, Poles, Gypsies). I find it frightening to have to ask, at the age of 38: "Has the generation after our parents learned absolutely nothing?"

Object: 8 full-page newspaper announcements, published in the Abend Blatt of Oberhausen, Mühlheim and Marl (from February 27 to April 17).
Collection: Skulpturenmuseum, Marl.

- Das 20. Jahrhundert, Klartext, Essen 1996 (German)

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© Gerz studio
© Gerz studio