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Roland Graf + Nick Tobier's Red Crossing selected by the Goethe Institute's Cities Ahead Initiative + The City of Augsburg, Germany

Red Crossing

In cooperation with the Goethe Institute, the Department for Culture, World Heritage and Sport of the City of Augsburg, Nick Tobier + Roland Graf’s Red Crossing was selected through an international call looking for placemaking projects for the creative (temporary) transformation of public space in Augsburg, in the overarching context of sustainable cultural urban development. Jurgen Enninger, writes that Red Crossing was chosen as a dynamic placemaking projects intended to strengthen the connections between people and places in the historic core of the Bavarian city of Augsburg, Germany.

Originally performed in 2019 at the Prague Quadrennial, Red Crossing at Prague’s Industrial Exhibition grounds subverted the existing 19th + 20th-century geometries and patterns engineered to serve technical and functional aspects of control and circulation.

While the straight paths and repeated geometry direct visitors to follow the way to the Palace, whether for consumption, spectatorship, or culture contained in exhibition halls – we could pick up our walkway and slice the plaza diagonally or invent rhythms based on foot traffic to make an approach that matches the time of the day. Since then, Red Crossings have happened around the world, including in 2023, at a climate justice rally in Bolazano, Italy, and in Ulanbataar, Mongolia.

In November, Professors Graf + Tobier traveled to Augsburg, where they deployed Red Crossing, with, among others, staff and patients of a children’s hospital, parishioners of a social justice church, staff of the City of Augsburg’s Ministry for Culture and Sport, artists and designers from the Augsburg based collective, Utopia Toolbox, and participants of an urban planning conference in a newly designed theater district.

Red Crossing
was designed to create physically intelligent structures to facilitate cooperation, emotional release and transcend the expectations of infrastructure as fixed. Emboldening viewers to become participants, the experience of building is part of the installation. Red Crossing grows in magnitude with participation, displacing passive spectatorship and transforming audiences into actors and participants. Ideally, these associations built together on the street in Augsburg’s Theater District may lead to more active and informed audiences, more calls for civic cooperation and urban dynamism, and the willingness and ability to see the street as theater where the show starts on the sidewalk.

In Augsburg, set against the striking geometrics backdrops of the theatre district, Red Crossing transformed getting from place to place as one of function into one of surprise, its bright red color buoyantly calling into action a crowd of surrounding supporters, and enticing you, me and everyone else to join as one of the performers moving across it.