Industrial Views investigates how international artworks influence regional identity in post-industrial communities. Specifically, it analyses art and cultural transformation of Germany’s Ruhr Valley at sites in and around large cities such as Bochum and Essen, and smaller ones such as Bottrop and Unna. It analyses the transformation of the region from an industrially-defined landscape to one that has become primarily culturally and artistically defined since the closing of the coal mines in 1957, the oil crisis of the 1970s, and the steel crisis of the 1980s. Simultaneously, the alienation of everyday life in the region continues. I shed light on this rift by analyzing artworks within their historical context, then assessing their role in the complex postindustrial identity of the Ruhr Valley.
German history and German cultural identity has, until recently, been inextricably linked to the Nazi Holocaust. Industrial Views explores another of the complex memories and identities that today inform German regional and cultural identity: the industrial past of the Ruhr region. All art works in Industrial Views are from the post-1970s, they are made in seven different media—film, video, photography, sculpture, architecture, installation and performance — and they are all made with or influenced by industrial materials produced in the region. Seven case studies are placed in the social and historical contexts that shaped their production and meaning. As a result, the project explores both how art works have been determined by, and how they have simultaneously influenced, industrial forms and industrial culture in the region. Industrial Views offers a novel argument for the formative relationship of art and industry, and the impact of both on German culture, history and identity.