Run by Stefan Beck
Just the basic facts:
multi.trudi is an artspace since 1997, run by me, Stefan Beck (Media Artist).
It has been located at different locations in the city. Since 2004 at Hohenstaufenstr. 13-25. At that time its name was changed to trudi.sozial to emphasize its social role.
There is no funding, beside the fact that its present location has a very low rent.
trudi.sozial does not host exhibitions by purpose.
It aims at interactions with the public under the idea of encouraging its visitors to resolve their passive roles as recipients (of artworks).
The guests at trudi.sozial are considered equal co-creators of an aesthetic of participation.
Means and tools to achieve this have often a playful character, like collective drawing and tinkering or trips and explorations of the neighbourhood.
As a second path there are certain topics set, considered as propositions to talk. trudi.sozial may become a salon at this moment. Examples from the last year were: "Home & Hearth", "Social Software Arts", "Mother tongues" and "Wastefulness".
Let's start with some basic facts:
Part 1 (1997 – 2001)
A lonely guard house in the East Harbour Area of Frankfurt. Just a space of 10 square meters. In former times it belonged to a factory. The factory has disappeared.
I was looking for something small, first, because I wanted to get close to people, and I wanted people (visitors) close to each other. Second, I didn't expect big crowds and didn't want to produce events which would rely on big crowds. (As a comparison of that time, the nearby Galerie Fruchtig hosted over 200 sqm. During openings it could become quite crowded, but in between the vast space could look depressing.)
I didn't want to produce a white cube atmosphere. So the first thing was to put blue wallpaper with golden stars on the largest wall. With some chairs and a table as a sort of improvised bar, it could have an intimate atmosphere, more like a living room.
Another element which evolved during its operation was my habit to leave relics of former events within the space. Some pieces were added, while others stayed, and faded out over time.
This was my reaction on the practice of gallery spaces to have sharp breaks with each new show. My ideal was not the break, but the flux.
People often ask me about the origin of the name „multi.trudi“. It's a fancy name, it doesn't mean something particular. I wanted to have a name which would reflect an open concept. Not even a space. Only in an abstract way. (You often end up with concepts like „alternative art space“, „off-space“ or „artist run space“ that they are located in real space. Multi.trudi is also connected with its website, and on conceptual considerations with The Thing Frankfurt, another internet project of mine.)
When I started thinking about the concept of mult.trudi and its mode of operation it became clear to me, that I should neither become an art space (with shows and the like) nor a party location, although all events started late in the evening. People could come by for a drink, listen to music, socialize, but that was not the main thing.
What I wanted and expected was some kind of involvement, between me and the guests, and among the guests.
Some examples from the beginning:
People were asked to bring or produce drawings of the accident of Lady Di.
A wood oven was installed by an artist as a sculpture, but people had to bring wood or other burnable stuff, otherwise the place would have stayed cold.
An all evening Adorno reading contest. Each visitor had to read from Adorno's writings, continously.
Food Poisening. Visitor could buy groceries from me like yoghurt, milk or cream, infuse it with detergent and send a blackmail to a company of their choice.
My idea was that it's no longer me, the artist, who is the sole (god-like) creator, but a loose ensemble of people which would become producers as a community, where the borders of each contribution might be blurred. I call this distributive productions.
If you happen to see some resemblances with the work of Rirkrit Tiravanija I'd state that the main difference is the local focus of my work. The first multi.trudi stayed for four years on the same spot. Time for people to become familiar with it and also with me. It was a work of education, and I was very happy when I could see people becoming followers and eager contributors.
Sometimes people: gallerists or curators asked me to produce multi.trudi on another location, another city. I always declined. Instead I proposed a bus shuttle to bring people to multi.trudi.
The reason was, that I felt responsible for the local art scene, and I still do. The emergence of alternative artspaces in Frankfurt in the early 90s led me to the belief that a different art, based on collaboration, was possible, and I wanted to contribute on a local level.
Critics tend to overlook how much day to day research and experience is fed into the mult.trudi events. Often events referred to other events happening in the city. It would take considerable time to achieve the same sort of intimacy in another city.
An international multi.trudi movement would not be impossible, but would mean a different thing to me. I always thought that multi.trudi should be an idea, which could be copied and distributed, but not by me becoming a jet-set missionary hooking my stuff in every white cube possible. (Contre Tiravanija!).
As it turned out there were not even other trudis in my hometown. It's still a long way to persuade and convince people on a local level.
After I lost the small guardhouse in 2001 I was homeless for over a year. Time to rethink the previous operations.
It became clear to me that mult.trudi was strong on working with people and theoretical topics. The golden time of „off-spaces“ and the close link with club culture was over, anyway.
The name trudi.sozial reflects on the new concept with emphasis on the social relations between me and the guests. multi.trudi remained as the overal brand name.
I happened to get a farly big space (100 sqm) for a couple of weeks in 2003. Not very multi.trudi like, small and cosy. So, I decided to put up a table in the middle and gather people around it.
A total different situation. While in the old multi.trudi there was still this bar-like table which acted like a barrier, now it was me sitting in an equal position with my guests. Even with two people that worked very well.
I felt inspired to adopt it in the new multi.trudi space in 2004, a small guard lodge again. This time more downtown, near the main train station.
There was no bar any more. Just a table and some seats around it. Some people complained: „Ah, now we can't hide any more...“
It became a different multi.trudi indeed. Old guests didn't show up. Either that a lot of them had left for Berlin, or that the former mix of late night party people and art prospects felt brushed off by the new concept.
„You know, I hate these art people“, someone remarked to me. „There are no art people anymore“, I replied.
While I fed and encouraged the old style of working together, involving the guests, with, like, producing a drawing of the neighborhood, or sewing a blanket out of rags, - there was also a new style of a discussion group.
I usually announced a certain topic, and waited for the people to come up with ideas. That worked for three or four evenings and a break of two weeks after that. Next one.
Just some examples of the last year, „Climate Change“, „After Art...“, „Democracy“, „Will Will“ and „at the Moment“.
Yes, it's important for me to have a physical space like this. I try to do participatory projects on the internet as well, for a long time now. Example: The Thing Frankfurt.
The physical space enforces people to show up in person and to decide whether and how to participate. (I often hear complaints like: „but I'm afraid to talk in front of other people...“).
Some people don't like it (for the first time I had evenings with no one showing up. And in general I have two to five guests), others come just because of that. Like Dirk, who remarked: „I come here, because you can never be sure who's showing up and which direction the discussion will take.“
A fit description for the work of multi.trudi.
Normally, I define a topic for a couple of weeks, like "Waste", and then I think about possible contributions from the guests. Guests are not necessarily artists. Some are artists, some aren't.
My concept is to involve everybody. All people showing up at a certain event are considered equal collaborators. We try to create the event together.
Sometimes I do invite fellow artists, but this is rare. We had a presentation by artist Helga Franke on political signs last year for example.
The projects are rather cheap since I rely on contributions from the guests. Each event is never more than 20$.