City views and living. Church crafts and modern furniture. What do they have in common and what does this have to do with the exhibition "The Continuous Construction Principle" by the Bonn artist Nico Joana Weber?

Furniture production has a long tradition in Rheda-Wiedenbrück. Not something you would normally expect. Or would you? Yet before the first modern furniture from companies like Lübke KG, Musterring, interlübke and COR went out into the world from here, a completely different industry flourished: applied ecclesiastical art. It laid the foundation for the successful development of the region's business and furniture industry.

Nico Joana Weber, Das Endlosbauprinzip (2022) © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

During the reign of Frederick III, the intensive expansion and further construction of Catholic churches began in the German Empire, which in turn led to the production of church furniture and art in Wiedenbrück, such as wood-carved altars, church pictures, pulpits, choir screens, sacrament boxes and tabernacles. The town's favourable location directly on the Cologne-Minden railway line, which connected the Rhineland with northern Germany, encouraged the establishment of workshops and specialists. This is how the artists' colony "Wiedenbrücker Schule" came into being between 1885 and 1920.

With a wealth of know-how, they not only produced for the domestic market, but also for international markets. Around the turn of the century, 500 fulltime workers were employed from among the 2,000 townspeople. These included ornamentalists, polychromists, sculptors, church painters, carpenters and various ancillary workers.

Nico Joana Weber, Das Endlosbauprinzip (2022) © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

Nico Joana Weber, Das Endlosbauprinzip (2022) © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

“As an artists' colony focusing on applied ecclesiastical art, the Wiedenbrück School offered lucrative fields of activity to professionals of the most diverse orientations. The turning point came after the First World War when demand for these commodities dried up. From 1920 onwards, with the founding of the first furniture companies, producing only furniture, the transformation from the ecclesiastical art of the Wiedenbrück School to the modern furniture industry in Rheda-Wiedenbrück took place. The infrastructure and the workers were there, only the products and sales markets changed," says Christiane Hoffmann, director of the Wiedenbrück School Museum.

The deep connection to the region is also reflected in COR's corporate policy to this day. This is the place where we are at home, where all our furniture is made. In Rheda-Wiedenbrück since the company was founded in 1954.

Nico Joana Weber, Das Endlosbauprinzip (2022) © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

The houses of the craftsmen also had an advertising function. Richly decorated and painted, the art of the service providers could be admired from the outside.

The history of the town is unquestionably linked to the emergence of the furniture industry based here. This was also recognised by the Bonn-based artist Nico Joana Weber, who was awarded the regional Brachum Art Prize in 2020. This was accompanied by work in the urban space and a 36-part poster campaign was created which was recently on display around the town.

The posters show collages based on image material from the town's archives as well as those of COR, interlübke and Musterring. The artist combined the archive material with her own photographs. They show architectural and town views, furniture and interior designs from the last 70 years and analyse the town's history on an architectural level.

© Nico Joana Weber, Das Endlosbauprinzip (2022)  

© Nico Joana Weber, Das Endlosbauprinzip (2022)

© Nico Joana Weber, Das Endlosbauprinzip (2022) 

Nico Joana Weber, Das Endlosbauprinzip (2022) © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

"The continuous construction principle is a design study of and for Rheda-Wiedenbrück and an exemplary architecture and design analysis of a German town," Nico Joana Weber says of her work. "My poster series picks up on the immanent tension between demolition and new construction, monument and modernity, ornament and minimalism, zeitgeist and timelessness that characterises the town," the artist adds.

Nico Joana Weber, Das Endlosbauprinzip (2022) © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

It is not only in the modular construction of the serial cabinets and seating furniture of the 1960s that we encounter the continuous construction principle. It also refers to the never-ending process of structural, societal and cultural change in the town.

Nico Joana Weber, Das Endlosbauprinzip (2022) © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

"The collages by Nico Joana Weber show in a remarkable way how the historical heritage of the town and the region is reflected in the modern furniture industry," says Leo Lübke.

Nico Joana Weber, Das Endlosbauprinzip (2022) © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

The artist

Born in Bonn, Nico Joana Weber lives and works in Ludwigshafen am Rhein. Before finding her current home base there, she studied at Goldsmiths College in London and at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne, and travelled around the world. Numerous publications, exhibitions and awards trace her path.

In her work, she approaches architectural urban space through film and photography, while drawing attention to urban structures.

In 2020, she received the Brachum Art Prize of the town of Rheda-Wiedenbrück, which was linked to project work in the urban space. This resulted in 36 collages, which were displayed on a large scale as posters in public spaces.

Further information: www.nicojoanaweber.com

© Nico Joana Weber

* The regional Brachum Art Prize is awarded to young German artists who concern themselves with architecture in their work. The funding is intended to support the award winners in their further artistic development and to make their work known to the public. It was awarded for the first time in 2014, since when it has been presented every three years.

In 2020, the Brachum Art Prize went to the Bonn-based artist Nico Joana Weber.