Alfter is made up of 11 smaller villages, one of which is called Alfter - or "Alefte" in the local dialect Kölsch. It is a bike ride away from the former West German capital Bonn, and lies within the Rhine valley and on the southern ridge of the "Vorgebirge".
The total area of Alfter is 35 km², of which 18 km² is used for agricultural purposes and 8 km² is forest. The soil is classified as very high quality for agricultural use.
Alfter is also the home of the Alanus University of Art and Social Sciences. The university has two sites – one at Johannishof, a former farm on a hill above the village, and Campus II which sits on the rich soil in the Rhine valley.
Kathrin from Myvillages holds an art professorship at the Department of Business Managemt at Alanus Unveristy since January 2022. Drawing and Re-drawing the Economy is part of two modules on the Bachlor and Master programme.
In March we started to use a pencil as a tool to sketch out economies we are part of, acknowleding the intredepencence betwenn formal and informal economies, capitalist rational and non-monetary trading systems.
We also looked at art within corporate context, and explored the economic proposal by Lumbung documenta fifteen within the context of the institution Documenta gGmbH.
The land in front of the door of the campus.
As part of the Master course we are meeting Alfter based farmers who know the land from working it for decades. We start to see what has been invisible: the extraordinary quality of the soil which retains water and nutritiens easily, and which is marked 90/100 on the German Soil Quality Index.
We also "plein-air" on the fields oppostite the university, paying attention to waht we see versus what we think we see.
The student group from BA29 summarises learnings and observations about Lumbung and Documenta. The group decides to become "Drawing Doulas" for the collective visit to Kassel in September 2022.
Four days of paying attention to the intersection of rural - art - economics with the MA course. This time we are based at Johannishof Campus I which has been a farm before it became a university. We discuss how rural-urban binaries have been established, and how to overcome them. Local fruit and vegetable farmers Mr. Mandt and Mr. Tönnessen show us their fields, and we imagine new rituals and projects that allow knowledge of the land to influence much needed changes within mainstream economics.
Lumbung was a main topic during several of Kathrin's seminars and workshops at the Department of Business Management at Alanus University: how to read artistic practice as economic practice , and lumbung as a large scale attempt in systemic change. Drwaing was a main tool to study, show and share, and we took our drawing skills to Kassel for a weekend to draw economies together.
Kathrin's art teaching at the Department of Economy at Alanus University regularly refers to lumbung Documenta as an economic practice, and as art as lived practice versus theorised ideals.
There was a strong desire amongst students to have time to talk about art outside of teaching. nonkrong was introduced as an informal but regular series of gatherings, and as a way of continuing lumbung.
nonkrongs started in October 2022, and the topics so far have been very rural, reflecting the fact that the university campus is sitting on fields next to rural communities, and many students live in or come from rural settings.