I have a confession to make.
It involves hotel rooms, bad art and a developing compulsive (dis)order.
It started about 2 years ago. In a holiday bungalow in northern Germany…
I realized that every time I looked at the wall and the poor excuse-of-an-artwork hanging there, I became nauseous and my rebel soul escaped from its chains. It does not happen very often, but it has since become a serious addiction with a recognizable pattern.
Have you ever noticed the crap they hang on the walls in a room which, for a brief amount of time, is supposed to be your comfortable home away from home? A room which you usually pay a substantial amount of money for? And in my case, this money is hard-earned by producing and selling enough good art to be able to afford an occasional weekend away.
Ok, you might have not noticed. But that shall be forgiven, because usually it is so bland or so bad, that you might not even notice or remember it. But I started to feel really insulted. Usually the art they hang looks cheaper and more tasteless than the carefully selected rubbish bin in the same room.
Anyway. I just returned from a brief visit to Frankfurt. I was invited to attend the glamorous Live Entertainment Awards 2013 and accommodated in a nearby fancy hotel.
There it happened again.
Recognizing the pattern, I thought this time I rather confess straight away.
Our room on the 32nd floor was decorated with a digital print of some kind of old engraving, possibly showing an early view of Frankfurt. (There was no signature or any other information provided to trace the artwork to its original creator.) It was paced behind glass in a big golden frame and securely fastened to the wall with screws. Yes, screwed, as if the hotel worries that somebody will want to steal it?!? Ok, granted, the white pass-partout might have some kind of value on the recycling market for some poor artist…
The decoration in the hotel room… (or the “Before” picture)
I had to do something. Usually I never go anywhere without a small selection of essential art materials and tools, but this time I just grabbed a few pens and my sketchbook, not expecting much free time for creative adventures. Limitations often tickle me to become even more creative and soon I had a rough plan, fitting my ethics of doing as little harm as possible.
The unsuspecting hotel staff agreed to lend me a pair of scissors large enough to cut creative designs into the curtains. The hotel also provided me with a complimentary copy of a glossy magazine. Lastly I got a piece of double-sided tape from the team preparing the Frankfurt Festhalle for the LEA awards. Addicts like me, just know how to get their fix
I am still not ready for the ‘show and tell’ part – please bear with me, this is not an easy confession, but I promise, it is serious fun.
Looking out of our window, we had a great view of Frankfurt am Main with its huge skyscrapers housing several large financial institutions and banks. Frankfurt a.M. is known as the financial hub of Germany, I am told. If there is something that gives me an even worse allergic reaction than bad art, it is the whole financial industry with their dubious systems and the way they rule the world.
Frankfurt am Main morning skyline view from our room
With the banks in the back of my mind (even literally when I turned around from the window and looked at the artwork in our room), a magazine at hand, scissors and tape I was ready to spend the afternoon happily in our room. Much better than shopping or sight-seeing!
And now I let the pictures tell the rest:
Selecting pictures from the magazine – trying to find images that suit the original artwork in size and which add some thought-provoking content. Glad I found this one in a mag that mostly features fashion
Using the huge scissors to cut out the tiny figures was not an easy task
The images were backed with double-sided tape
and then carefully positioned and stuck onto the glass. That way, it can easily be removed and I will hopefully not have to face a ‘Destruction of private property’ charge.
And the results:
Hotel deco-busting collage ‘Love and Devotion’ by Imke Rust (or the “After” picture)
Limited by the available images, materials and the fact that the decorative ‘artwork’ was behind glass and fastened to the wall, this was a great challenge, but I really like the result and think it worked out perfectly. (Thank you, dear universe, for always providing me with exactly what I need! )
Detail: centre of image with title of art work. Because the images are stuck onto the glass, they cast a shadow and the whole artwork gets a nice three-dimensional feel.
Only two images really worked for me with this picture, considering the size, colours etc., so I ended up with Chinese military procession and some models dressed in futuristic, Asian inspired fashion. While the soldiers looked quite informal, the models posed in an almost threatening and powerful way. So this work seemed to be headed into the direction of a subtle confrontation or battle. Possibly between the female and male powers? Or Europe and Asia? I was a bit apprehensive about displaying a battle or aggression, so I wanted to add some relief to this tense situation.
Detail of the deco-busting collage ‘Love and Devotion’ © Imke Rust
I found a speech-bubble with the text “We don’t want taxpayers having to save banks” and thought, that this statement suits my view, it would be a perfect cause for these ladies to protect and it would give the artwork a comic feel, making it a bit ‘lighter’, but still with a serious message. I also decided to give the work a title and place it in the middle of the pass-partout, like it was often done with old prints. From the limited text phrases available “Love and Devotion” seemed to be a perfect choice.
Detail of the deco-busting collage ‘Love and Devotion’ © Imke Rust
I then decided this should be a dialogue. If the female part is allowed to say something, then the male part will also get a voice. I found a tiny empty speech bubble in the hotel brochure and drew a heart in it and placed it above a smiling soldier…
And some more dialogue happens when you open the curtains and can see Frankfurt’s skyline with the building of the Deutsche Bank (amongst others) reflected on the image…
Reflections of the modern Frankfurt skyline on the altered image
Finally the truth is out…
I love adding fun and value to the ‘artworks’ and decoration in hotel rooms or holiday apartments, and have done so on several occasions. I wish I could see the faces of the people who notice the interventions and know what they are thinking. I also wish I knew how long it takes the hotel staff to recognize the interventions and see what they decide to do about it. Hopefully it will put a smile on some people’s faces!
I plan to share some of my previous similar interventions with you too and hope that I can visit many more hotels or holiday apartments in the near future.