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A golden table for the mayor of the city of Essen

Tables of communication - A civic gallery at Museum Folkwang project, curator Necmi Sönmez
09 August to 14 Oktober 2001


In 2001, within the Museum Folkwang project Tables of Communication, Karl-Heinz Mauermann designed a table for the mayor of Essen. Subsequent to the close of the project, the table was bought for the mayor’s office and is still in use as a conference table.

Catalogue text

Necmi Sönmez: Karl-Heinz Mauermann Golden Table

Pine wood gilded, 90 x 200 x 73 cm replica of a 1930s working class kitchen table

For the duration of the project, a golden conference table is standing in the office of the mayor of the city of Essen. In his design,  Karl-Heinz Mauermann was inspired by the design of plain kitchen tables of the kind used in working class kitchens ever since the 1930s and 40s. This table, however, is much larger than its model; here, eight people may conveniently be seated. The table is completely gilded - from its legs and frame up to its drawer and table top. The design had been realised with support by Gesellschaft für soziale Dienste Essen (GSE), a workshop for handicapped people, and master-gilder Michael Rothäuser.

In this work, Mauermann playfully follows up a number of connotations which partly comment each other, but also show up contradictions. These start with the "Golden Madonna", the oldest existent fully-plastic sculpture of St Mary from North of the Alps, sheet gold moulded over a core of wood, which to this day is preserved in the treasury of Essen cathedral. They extend from allusions to the structural transformation of the Ruhr area, over malicious hints at Ruhr cities overreaching themselves, homage to the working class on whose industry the former prosperity of the region was based, up to the antagonism of the mayor sitting at a golden table, while at the same time the deficit of the city's household balance amounts to millions.

This table has been planned for everyday use. In preparatory talks the mayor, Dr. Reiniger, pointed out that eighty percent of his working day was spent in conferences; thus the conference table in his office was his central work place. With his work, Mauermann interferes in this situation, irritates those seated at the table without disturbing their discussions. On the contrary, this table invites communication, stirs curiosity,  fascinates.

After the installation of the table in the office of Dr. Reiniger; Frau Paul from the mayor's office staff / Dr. Reiniger


from the press release on the project:

Ayse Erkmen, Joachim Knobloch, Karl-Heinz Mauermann, Gerhard Merz, Neringa Naujokaite, Renate Neuser, Christiana Protto, Christoph Rodde, Claudia Sacher, Johannes Sandberger, Joerg Zboralski

A table is a place of communication, and communication is one of the most important aspects of socialisation. The project "Tables of Communication" consists of ten fully functional table constructions by international and local artists who, through their artistic expression, intend to lead the public along unusual paths of communication. The tables designed by the artists will be installed at ten different public, semi-public and private places in Essen, for example in a hospital, a senior citizens' home, a business company and in the office of the mayor, Herr Dr. Wolfgang Reiniger.

There will be no exhibition in the traditional sense. During the project, the tables will be used as meeting places: both experts and the interested public will be invited to at least two discussion rounds per table, the subjects of which will be decided on in co-operation with the artists involved, and influenced by the site of the table. In any case, the discussions will be monitored by the curator of the exhibition project, Herr Dr. Necmi Sönmez. Thus the project explores a hitherto disregarded potential of talking about art.

The aim of the project is an "experimental" and unconventional interaction between artists, exhibition organisers, and as large a public as possible.

After the installation of the table. Dr. Reiniger sees the table for the first time / Frau Heil, speaker of the mayor