What is that picture, anyway?

At first glance, it is a strange picture to some, a funny one to others. As an icon, it works pretty well: It is sticky.

But what does it stand for, really?

When I thought of setting up this company, around 2003, I was wondering how to frame, what I wanted to do.

At once, I remembered a picture I had taken a while ago. In the German Ruhr region, near Essen, where steel and coal industries had once given wealth and purpose to a country and its population – until the times had changed. By the 1980s, little more than a disoriented “rust belt” had remained of the old glory. Which is when courageous local authorities initiatied a huge project aiming at re-drawing the profile of the region, partially with art.

One of the artists that had been invited to be a part of the effort was the American sculptor Richard Serra, one of my favorite artists of all times.

He chose a hill of rubble, the highest peak in that country, and put on its top a pretty big steel plate. A little bit like a pimple on a butt. But it can be seen from really afar, and by its very presence, it gives the eye a direction.

It didn’t take long until the local youth discovered the emphatic spot, a barren hill of rubble, yet one with a gorgeous view, and a good story. They started spraying the steel plate, but somehow, they kept it mostly free of dumb slogans, and instead invented their own writing on the wall.

When I saw the picture I had taken, after climbing the hill, checking out the steel, I instantly knew that nothing, ever, could represent better what I had in mind, when I thought of what the arts, literature, culture can do.

So I decided that this picture would be my icon and my lodestar.

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