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Hans Haacke

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© VG Bild-Kunst

born 1936 in Cologne, lives in New York.

An area of the north courtyard of the Reichstag Building, marked off by thick wooden planks, displays in neon lettering the dedication “DER BEVÖLKERUNG” (to the population) – a pendant to the bronze inscription “DEM DEUTSCHEN VOLKE” (to the German people) that was affixed to the west portal of the Reichstag Building in 1916.

Hans Haacke invited Members of the Bundestag to fill in the spaces around the lettering with earth from their constituencies – the heterogeneity of these consignments of earth symbolising, as it were, the heterogeneity of the popula­tion as a whole. Thus over time a luxuriant biotope has come into being, in which over one hundred species of flora and twenty of fauna have found a home.

Often, visitors and their local Member of Parliament join in emptying a sack of earth from their con­stituency into the installation, exchanging information on the origins of the soil they have brought with them.

Later they can view the site via webcam – installed in the courtyard (www.derbevoelkerung.de) – to see what fruit this communal earth has yielded.