„To build tall towers, you have to spend a lot of time on the foundations.“
Although Björn heed Anton Bruckner’s well-known quote early on, he had no idea how much work, effort and intransigence the entire development would mean – from the first ideas to the finished Column.
Luckily, we have to say, otherwise it would never have been built!
Below some impressions of the beginnings to the further development, up to the current construction.
The first ideas for a tower, which then led to the column, were born in 2018.
The place, where Björn has his studio, is called Künstlerhaus Ohlendorffturm, because until 1956 the Ohlendorff Memorial Tower stood immediately in front of it. This was over 15 metres high and offered visitors a wide view over Rahlstedt.
Today a memorial stone today marks the former location. This location, or better the “gap” inspired the artist to realise his idea in just this place.
The observation tower was built in 1907 by the citizens of Rahlstedt in memory of municipal leader Gustav Hermann Ohlendorff (1848-1906) and was demolished in 1956.
The motto: Show profile!
During the “Open Studios” of the Ohlendorffturm artists’ house, interested parties could be portrayed for a donation (e.g. for Doctors Without Borders and the refugee village in Rahlstedt, etc.). The response was very good, because people appreciate commitment. So it was obvious to use the profiles of the committed also symbolically: the profiles of the individuals in a column as a symbol of the bearers of society. We are all “pillars of society” and our democracy.
It is Björn’s concern to raise awareness of the topic of connection and to counter polarisation, polemics, increasing hate messages and division in society.
According to the motto, “Join in and show profile!” People are called upon to actively participate (on the Column) by making their profile available. From people for people.
First sketches and models
Gradually, the idea of building a permanent installation, which should have a positive charisma for the district and beyond, emerged.
At the beginning of 2019, Björn presented his idea to the public at the Rahlstedter Kulturwerk with an accompanying exhibition, presentation and discussion. The motto of the project was already clear: “Show profile! For solidarity.” The working title “Profile Column” was soon changed to “Column of Connectedness”.
More and more ideas from people from the district and the wider area were incorporated into the development, so that the artist gradually wants the project to be understood as a joint work.
A first model in its original size is being created
In order to get a concrete idea of the column, Björn built a 1:1 model made of corrugated cardboard with the help of carpenter Olav Schmidt and presented it to the public in November 2019 during the “Open Studios” of the Künstlerhaus, in the Edelfettwerk and later in the Dankeskirche.
After positive responses from the people and especially politicians, it became clear that there is a real chance to build the Column as a permanent sculpture.
The Authority for Culture and Media was interested in the realisation of the Column, but set high requirements for subsidies that the artist could not and did not want to meet. To make matters worse, the COVID-19 pandemic stopped further developments.
The project was on hold for some time – until Björn launched a crowdfunding at Startnext. At the same time, he met a solvent sponsor from the district, who is still actively involved in the development.
The crowdfunding was very successful – now it’s on the authorities to continue
Pitch Video of the Crowdfunding Campaign
Initially, Björn wanted to build the Column in the square of the former Ohlendorffturm, but this was rejected by the authorities due to excessive urban restructuring.
Good, because it quickly became clear that the Column should get a central place in the district, as it is intended as a meeting place.
After initial discussions with the Wandsbek district office, one particular location became obvious, but unfortunately this caused displeasure at the “Round Table Wandseterrasse” – above all, there was great concern to affect the suppliers of the weekly street market.
The artist, politicians, associations and interest groups met several times for possible location proposals, which were submitted to the district office for re-selection.
This was followed by months of back and forth with regional committees and authorities, until the location on the terraces of the stream Wandse was officially decided on February 23, 2022.
The building application has been submitted!
The steelworker is already active and starts with the conception. He has already lasered a profile in 5 mm thick Corten steel.
Björn and the lighting designer simulated the effect of lighting on the old 5 metre corrugated cardboard model with different light sources. Let’s see how this will actually look on the real Column…
The artist’s idea is to make the Column a gift to the city of Hamburg. In initial conversations, this seemed unproblematic, but now it turns out that the city will not cover maintenance and electricity costs as previously thought. The problem of maintenance may have to be solved by sponsoring regional companies.
See “News” for more information.