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2021Imagination installation and public intervention

Im Schilde is an imagination installation and public intervention conceived on the occasion of the 1250th anniversary of the town of Neckarsulm. The conceptual piece combines an uncovering of life stories from significant but forgotten local women with a critique of androcentrism in the writing of history. The work calls for the recognition and naming of womxn in historical memory, exemplified by street names as a means of forming the identity of a city and its citizens.

Street names reflect the spirit of the times and follow certain patterns through the ages. Throughout history, streets, alleys and squares in Germany have been named after guilds, social classes, church congregations, cities, rulers, dignitaries or other personalities from politics, culture and society. To counteract the cult of personality, it has been customary in Western democracies since 1945 not to name public streets after living persons. Only in recent years has started the naming of streets, squares and institutions with the names of women, who are fundamentally underrepresented.

In the town of Neckarsulm, about a quarter of all streets and squares bear the names of (exclusively German) personalities. The ratio of male street names to female names is 93:1. In public institutions, the ratio is 10:1.

The imagination installation deals exemplarily with 10 Neckarsulm women from the Middle Ages until today, among others with the victim of the witch hunt in the 16th century Rosina Walch; the 19th-century winegrower and benefactress Laura Haas; the Sister of Mercy Buneta Saup; Jewish woman such as Amalie Bodenheimer; or the local councilor Dr Maria Müller.

For the public intervention, Verena Stenke stood on sites of the women's lives, holding street signs with their names. For the exhibit, the printed and framed photograph of the intervention was presented alongside the street sign and a typewritten short biography. At the exhibition's opening, we collected more womxn's names with the audience, which were marked on the large original map of the town.

VestAndPage, Im Schilde, Neckarsulm, Laura Haas, Verena Stenke, Imaginationsinstallation
VestAndPage, Im Schilde, Neckarsulm, Laura Haas, Verena Stenke, Imaginationsinstallation
VestAndPage, Im Schilde, Neckarsulm, Laura Haas, Verena Stenke, Imaginationsinstallation

Our thanks go to Vera Kreutzmann, Barbara Löslein and the Neckarsulm town archive for their research support. The stories of Rosina Walch, Lea Marum, Amalie Bodenheimer, Sophie Jacob and Alice Harburger are described in detail in the book Sulm ain Stättl | Neckarsulm. Insight into the life of the town's Jewish community is provided in the book Die Neckarsulmer Juden, Eine Minderheit im geschichtlichen Wandel 1298-1945 by Ansbert Baumann. Further information can be found in the Historische Blätter of the Heimat- und Museumsverein.

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