After remodeling an old fire station and turning it into an exhibition space for contemporary art, Michael Kienzer invited artists to create temporary installations that would last half a year and would also be visible from the outside through a large window. He thus transformed the entire building into a sculpture in public space.
When Valentin Ruhry hung the abbreviation FF (Freiwillige Feuerwehr for Volunteer Fire Department) on the outside wall of the former fire station that is now an art space, his intention was not to highlight the building’s original function. Instead, his aim was to place the object (the art space) in a different context (fire station) to show that objects can be taken out of the context that gives them meaning and placed in a new context at any time. This allows us to view the "displaced" object from within at least two contexts – that of the art space as well as the fire station. It is up to us as beholders to decide what this object means to us: We can see it as one or the other, or we can see both as being equally true, meaning we do not have to choose. Artworks often invite us to take a break from all the decisions in our daily lives by letting us "sit on the fence" in a productive sense. Valentin Ruhry’s intervention transforms the art space back into a fire station on a symbolic level, while it also confirms its status as an art space. The installation substantiates what the philosopher Markus Gabriel once said: "The idea behind art is that it should familiarize us with the ambivalence of meaning." Not only does art familiarizes us with ambivalence, it teaches us to enjoy it.