Kirsten Kaiser, Gänsefüßchen, 1997, 51°58'14.1 "N 7°36'40.7 "E / 51°59'51.3"N 7°35'11.5"E


Kirsten Kaiser, Gänsefüßchen, 1997


(„“) Gänsefüßchen, literally: goose feet, is the German colloquial term for quotation marks (coll.: quotes, speech marks). They define a pair of linear punctuation marks that either mark the opening and closing of a quoted speech or are used to emphasize specific words and thoughts.

In her work titled Gänsefüßchen, Münster-based artist Kirsten Kaiser (born 1961) conceptually references the function of the punctuation mark. The sculptures are installed at two locations: the bottom quotation marks indicate the beginning of the Gasselstiege on Steinfurter Straße, the quotation marks at the top are placed at the end of the street in front of the Schulze Gassel farm in the Kinderhaus district. The punctuation marks were stamped out of steel, painted with black varnish and attached to three slender steel supports each.

The idea for the Gänsefüßchen arose from Kaiser’s intensive study of the history of the Gasselstiege, one of Münster’s oldest streets. The work is connected to the surrounding space at various levels regarding possible interpretations. To begin with, the artist refers to the etymology of the Gasselstiege by including its name in the title. The name of the street is most likely derived from the Schulze Gassel farm and from “Gössel”, the Low German word for a young goose, in turn indicating a reference to the family chronicle of Everhard Schulte to Gassel (1535). In addition, the family’s coat of arms shows a white, flying goose on a blue and gold background. In addition, Kaiser, with her subtle artistic gesture, succeeds in appropriating a geographically rather extensive space – approx. 4.5 km – and thus underscores a notion of temporal and spatial sensation.

The urban location at the beginning of Gasselstiege is surrounded by residential buildings, supermarkets and playgrounds. This part of the city is frequented by many people on foot, or crossed by bike or car to get to or leave Münster’s centre. Though the history of the Gasselstiege is no longer structurally recognizable on this busy section of the street, owing to its heavy use, it can still be perceived in terms of its infrastructural significance. After about one kilometre, the surroundings change, becoming a kind of country lane lined mainly by old trees, leading through fields—past farm animals, a creek named Kinderbach, estates and single-family homes—further towards the southwest of the district of Kinderhaus. Cars are not allowed on this section of the Gasselstiege, creating moments of peace and quiet for people walking along it. The rustic rural atmosphere also conjures a sense of the road’s pre-industrial era.

Kaiser’s design emerged as the winner of the competition for “art in architecture” announced in connection with the construction of a new housing estate on the corner of Gasselstiege and Steinfurter Straße. The Gänsefüßchen were particularly well received by the residents. Their resolute support for the realization of the work is exemplary for the successful participation of citizens in the design of the public realm.

Constanze Venjakob

property of Wohn + Stadtbau GmbH