Makroville is a collaborative project in which over 160 artists from various countries are participating and building a model city on a table about 33 feet by 33 feet (10 by 10 meters)—not a utopian city but, rather, an exhibition. The exhibitors are called the modesidents; the Ring Club initiated this project. Just as in life, but also just as in games, a city council approves construction permits. Any artist can buy land, and indeed must in order to participate. That so many artists have worked peacefully together may result from the project’s duplication of the structure of private property.

Makroville, however, doesn’t reproduce the principles of capitalism unreflectively. Problems of infrastructure, public transportation, the building of skyscrapers, the destruction of beaches by hotels—all these real-life problems have come to the fore. Many of the artists’ architectural models resembled sculptures. Various houses of worship, a fountain made of plates, a brewery made of four bottles, Makroville is a city of sculptures built to address private problems and preferences. How else can one explain the women’s prison—built, of course, by a man? This building speaks volumes about, for example, our everyday political life, issues of gender and public life, and action without self-analysis.

Düsseldorf artists began to think about the status and potential of models a decade ago. But the theoretical approach to the model has been excluded in Makroville, which instead reflects the city’s cultural life more generally. In its orientation to the individual work, Makroville is opposed to the kinds of criticism necessary in social and community processes. But the work actually on the table is not the only perspective the project offers: there is also a subterranean, futuristic city structure, and glued to the columns next to the table are photocopies, which represent imaginary correspondence between various technological institutes, as well as letters relating to the different constructions.

Despite the growing number of participants, there is no animosity among the parties. Indeed, perhaps because of the security offered by the capitalistic model of private property—no consensus-building or working out of agreements with one’s neighbors is needed here, there is an increase of social understanding. The model emanates multiplicity instead of chaos. True, at the same time, it remains merely an art object. But the organizational principles and the building process have created real social structures, which in turn have produced their own publics. Who lives here? Artists, naturally.

Sabine B. Vogel

Translated from the German by Charles V. Miller.