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an installation by Markus Miessen and Lena Mahr, 2020

Markus Miessen  and Lena Mah
Markus Miessen  and Lena Mah

Since 2002, Markus Miessen has been working on the notion of “publics” as a socio-spatial construct –– at the intersection of questions around participation, critical spatial practice, and formats of assembly. For “Die Balkone”, Miessen and Lena Mahr half-opened the shutters of their studio on Zionskirchstraße for passersby to get a glimpse of their reflection on proximity in times of crisis. The Covid pandemic has globally challenged and continues to interrogate local public situations in regard to realities of free roaming, assembling, and social exchange that we tend to take for granted. The image depicts a sniper curtain in Aleppo in 2014 (photograph by Joseph Eid/ AFP). The window of Miessen and Mahr’s studio reflects the local condition. Public space is not negotiable.


Markus Miessen is an architect, researcher, and writer. He studied at Glasgow School of Art and received his Ph.D. from Goldsmiths. His work revolves around questions of critical spatial practice, institution building, and spatial politics. Most recently, he has been a professor at the Städelschule in Frankfurt and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Miessen is the author of The Nightmare of Participation and Crossbenching. He holds a Chair in Urban Regeneration at the University of Luxembourg.


Lena Mahr is a designer, art director, and consultant. She studied spatial design at Central Saint Martins in London. Her practice, Studio Mahr, works on the interface of graphic and exhibition design, primarily with art and cultural institutions as well as family-run brands transitioning to the next generation. She used to teach at Central Saint Martins and the University of Westminster. Currently, she is a visiting professor at ISIA Urbino, Italy. 

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