Healing Complex (2018-ongoing) is a new meeting place, initiated by artist Irena Haiduk. At the heart of her commission is the former church of St. Bonifatius in Gelsenkirchen-Erle, which once served local miners. At the artist’s proposal, the site will be reimagined in close collaboration with locals and a broader community of stakeholders.
The history of the Ruhrgebiet is a history of migrations. The area’s diverse populations share many customs across cultures, religions and nationalities. The use of community ovens and spas is common to most. Inspired by ancient complexes that combined art and healing, Haiduk proposes to co-design a multifunctional oven powering three functions: communal baking, the making of art and recovery from everyday stresses through sauna rituals. In keeping with the artist’s attention to traditions of economic innovation, the complex will also develop its own transaction techniques rooted in non-monetary exchange and frottage imaging.
In contrast to common architectural approaches, visitors will be asked to influence the redesign of the church into a communal center. The initial exhibition period allows the ideas proposed by the artist to be tested and shaped by those who will use them. An extensive public programme will engage participants of all ages: concerts, bake-off parties, recreational offerings and hands-on workshops. A discussion series will explore international examples of art-powered economies, their social value, and educational potential.
We invite all locals, interested parties and experts from all walks of life to take direct and active part in this transformation. Together we can re-discover the building as a place of encounter and exchange that contributes to a vital social infrastructure.