From 5 to 9 July 2017, the city of Hamburg was in a state of emergency: The heads of state and government of the twenty biggest industrial nations in the world were trying to uphold an international system whose survival depended on Trump, Erdoğan and Putin. They were protected by around 31,000 policemen, while around 80,000 people gathered together for demonstrations to express their anger at the summit. The images of the G20 summit that remain in most people’s minds are of burning cars, smashed windows and skirmishes.
Gernot Grünewald and his ensemble experienced another side of the event during these four days. For them, the defining image is of a city rediscovering itself – in the sense of a polis, or body of citizens, and perhaps a return to politics in the original sense: spaces that do not always have a fixed location, but are created through talking and negotiation; in-between spaces. Politics is suddenly palpable, tangible, happens right in front of you on the street, and has the power to shock – for example when you see Trump’s face in a passing car.
Thus the observer becomes a participant and inevitably asks the question: Where do things stand with our democracy, and where do I stand?
12 May 2018, Box