Shaft Signs
A portrayal of change in the Ruhr Metropolis

Balloon above Duisburg North Landscape Park / Photo: ujeskoBalloon above Duisburg North Landscape Park / Photo: ujesko

Balloon above Duisburg North Landscape Park / Photo: ujesko

Anyone visiting the old winding towers, redeveloped spoil tips and other elevated sites in the Ruhr Metropolis in May 2010 during the week after Whitsuntide will be confronted by a striking scenario. Around 350 yellow balloons with long ribbons will hover like pins on a pin cushion up to 80 metres above the former mineshafts, the roots of the Ruhr region.

The balloons are a moving testament to the metamorphosis of the Ruhr Metropolis, identifying those places where it all began - where winding towers once stood, structures that defined the cityscapes for more than a century.

The closer one comes to the individual sites, the more apparent the process of change. The rusting production buildings forming part of huge colliery workings have largely disappeared, leaving behind empty spaces. Some have been put to new use, others remain as yet unoccupied. Parks and industrial zones, roads and housing estates have taken their place alongside acclaimed cultural projects in original buildings restored to serve a new purpose; other areas are still unused and provide a habitat for local flora and fauna.

The 4,000 square kilometres art installation based on an idea by Volker Bandelow of Bochum tells of man's power to make change happen and to re-conquer in poetic style a landscape deformed by industry. "Shaft Signs" presents a unifying and buoyant picture. As a joint initiative organised by the participating cities, citizens and businesses, this project is intended for the people of the Ruhr region.

From 22 to 30 May 2010, places where workers once toiled will be transformed into stages large and small, formal and informal, familiar to all or yet to be discovered - depending entirely on the creative ideas and initiatives of the local people: exhibitions examining the history of the mines and urban districts, photography, discussions and talks that keep alive the memory of a living history and the stories of the Ruhr region.

Festivals and gatherings will be celebrated while institutions and companies, towns and cities will present themselves beneath their balloon. There will be picnics and concerts, tent camps and sports tournaments. On one night, the balloons will be illuminated from the inside, the perfect excuse for a wild party or a relaxed evening with a romantic backdrop.

All in all, a colourful array of events designed to draw together people from all parts of the conurbation. They will externalise what makes the Ruhr Metropolis unique: a multitude of heterogeneous yet interlinked places and people, united by both the past and a shared future.

May 22 - 30, 2010
daily from morning to evening
Approx. 350 locations in the Ruhr Metropolis
Admission free

"Shaft Signs" is a regional community project offering an ideal opportunity to get involved. Forty-one cities, numerous companies, clubs and initiatives and well over 100 individual balloon sponsors have all signed up!

Main Projectsponsor: Air Liquide Deutschland GmbH
Projectsponsors: Dolezych GmbH & Co. KG, Alexander Kranki Kommunikation GmbH
With generous support from the Commerzbank Foundation.

You can find further information (in German) at

Realted topic:
High Points

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