Platz der Grundrechte
Fundamental Rights Square
Karlsruhe, Germany 2005

Karlsruhe is the capital of the German legal system. After the reunification of the country the city anticipated in the nineties that Berlin, the new national capital, would claim the most prestigious law institutions and the national courts. The municipality decided to commission an artwork to recall Karlsruhe’s post-war tradition and engagement in this field.

The artwork aims to look beyond the representational and institutional aspects of the commission. The work takes the form of two installations, both of which display 24 enamel signposts. One version of the installation is concentrated in front of the castle, creating the new Square of the Fundamental Rights in Karlsruhe. The second, identical version, is dispersed throughout the city.

Each individual signpost has two sides featuring answers to a series of questions posed by the artist. On one side, an (anonymous) answer is provided by a law specialist (mostly presidents of a court, scientists or intellectuals), while the opposite side shows the answer of a person who has experienced legal action taken against him or her. Thus the work creates on each signpost a dialogue between justice and injustice and the reader ignores the identity of the text he or she reads.

The 24 sites for the decentralised installation were decided by a vote and as a result of discussions in three public seminars among citizens of Karlsruhe.

Object: 48 metal signposts h=2.20m, size of plaques 54 x 54 cm.

- Platz der Grundrechte - Fundamental Rights Square, Verlag für moderne Kunst, Nürnberg, 2006 (German)

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© Monika Müller-Gmelin
© Monika Müller-Gmelin

Jochen Gerz Ein Mahnmal Rede zur Eroffnung des Platz der Grundrechte am 2. Oktober 2005