Jurgen Kisters
Writer, Art Critic and Journalist, Cologne, Germany.

Jurgen Kisters Writer collecting award of Mayor of Liverpool 2000.

The concept of Eight Days A Week came from Cologne writer and critic Jürgen Kisters, whose interest in Liverpool art grew from an artists' forum he attended at the Bluecoat on the occasion of its Cologne exhibition Science Friction in 1995. Three years later, following several research visits, he organised - in collaboration with artist Georg Gartz and the Bluecoat - an ambitious season celebrating Merseyside art and culture, featuring over 30 exhibitions, film screenings, music and poetry events, artist residencies and educational activities, the largest manifestation of the exchange to date.

At the heart of this enterprise was a genuine interest in Liverpool, not only the obvious pop and football aspects, but also the work of contemporary artists and the way they reflect the culture of the city. Many of these artists visited Cologne for the festival, establishing links with venues, organisations and individual artists there, links that have continued to grow. For instance, this year alone there have been a further seven exhibitions by Liverpool artists in Cologne, all as a direct result of the 1998 event.

Building on these relationships, a group of arts venues, artists and other interested parties has been working together over the past two years to reciprocate the first Eight Days A Week festival, retaining its title and inviting Cologne artists to present their work in Liverpool this Autumn. Though predominantly visual arts, the activity also includes music and literature, as well as an educational dimension. And several of the events are collaborative in nature, involving artists from both cities. We believe that through artists and venues working together in this very direct way, the dialogue will continue to develop, further strengthening the connection between our two cities as we approach the 50th anniversary of this special relationship in 2002.

Koln - Liverpool, Liverpool - Cologne
Cologne Journalist Jurgent Kisters Compares his City's Unique Culture with that of Liverpool

The City on the Rhine Cologne isn't just any old city. Since the settlement was founded by the Ubiern in 50BC the Romans, the French, the Prussians and the Catholic Church shaped the fortunes of this unique city. Cologne's cityscape still bears witness to its rich and varied past. Numerous Roman buildings and the old city centre, with its town gates and walls, still pay tribute to these early beginnings. Whilst Cologne grew to be one of the biggest merchant cities, helped by its location on the river, it became a stronghold of the Catholic Church. The richness of the archdiocese is symbolised by the 13 Romanesque churches and the 160 meter tall Cologne cathedral, the Dom, which began construction in 1248 but was only completed at the end of the 19th century. Cologne Cathedral not only houses the famous altar-pictures by the Middle Age master Stefan Cochner, but also a magnificent gold shrine which is the resting place of the relics of the Three Holy Kings.

Building on its economic strength gained throughout the Middle Ages, Cologne developed into an industrial centre. The diesel engine was invented in Cologne, and the perfume factory 4711, whose Eau de Cologne fragrance lingers across the world, was established. At the beginning of the 20th century the name Stollwerck became known for chocolate, the car manufacturer Ford founded an enormous factory, and big chemical companies settled.

The Cologne trade corporation is one of the oldest in Europe and its trade fair still attracts traders from all over the world.

Cologne's economic traditions are multi-layered as are its art and culture which are reflected in the numerous and varied museums it houses. Cologne has many museums, including the first German Sport and Olympic Museum as well as collections by the artist Kathe Kollwitz and the photographer August Sander. Many famous personalities were born or lived in the city, including the painter Peter Paul Rubens, composer Jacques Offenbach, philosophers Karl Marx and Albertus Magnus, painter Max Ernst, composers Karl-Heinz Stockhausen and Mauricio Kagel, cyclist Rudi Altig, world boxing champions Henry Maske and Sven Ottke, and the canonised Carmelite nun Edith Stein.

The most famous Cologne citizens are Konrad Adenauer and Heinrich Boll. Adenauer was Cologne's Lord Major during the Weimar Republic and briefly after the War. He became Germany's first Chancellor, and with his Rhenish mentality shaped the politics of the newly founded German Federal Republic. Thanks to Adenauer, Cologne has a green belt, and the Federal Republic entered the Western Union. There are more anecdotes about Adenauer than any other German politician: It is said for instance that he got by with a vocabulary of a few hundred words.

The author and Nobel Prize winner for literature Heinrich Boll, a boy from Cologne's southend who never forgot his roots, made Cologne and the Rhineland a province of world literature. He was the literary chronicler of a post war Germany almost completely destroyed during the War, with only 10,000 inhabitants remaining in the city. Cologne was the first German city attacked by allied, mainly British, bombs during the so-called 'night of 1000 bombs'. Only Heinrich Boll was able to write with such simplicity and urgency about daily life: "When we saw Cologne again we cried.

The destroyed Cologne possessed what the pre-destroyed Cologne never had, greatness and seriousness. Destiny was meticulously merciless. The destruction was complete and in warfare terms completely senseless. That was the appropriate state of a place we wanted to live in. Tears and the remaining wreaths and flowers of All Saints Day lay amongst the ruins". Cologne people are extremely loyal to their home town. Even on holiday they seem to suffer from home . sickness, 'Heimweh noh Kolle'. A lot of places still have the air of village life. Even someone living in the city centre refers to the three hundred meter or so distance to the Neumarkt, with its High Street and department stores, as "going into town". When local citizens refer to Cologne they do not just mean a place but a joie de vivre, a philosophy, a way of being. Kolsch and kolnisch stand for the relaxed manner in which people joke about the yearly floods and the silly yet seriously staged wildness of the carnival, the Fastelovends. Kolsch refers to those little pearls of wisdom that determine everyday speech: `Jeder Jeck ist Anders' (every fool is different) is one insight, or 'Hatte noch immer jot jejange', (it will be all right in the end).

Paul Schalluck wrote: "This city has a thousand faces and behind those thousand faces lies the real one: a continual secret". Cologne is frighteningly ugly and wonderfully beautiful, modern and refreshingly old fashioned, it is conformist and anarchic, robust but also tender, miserable then cheerful, but always full of life. There are the crowds of people streaming through the Hoch Strafie and Schitdergasse, and there is Klaus, the fiddler who sings in the middle of these crowds.

There are the street painter and the homeless close by the golden shrine of the Three Holy Kings in the belly of the big Cathedral and the glass case displaying the Madonna laden with pearls, Kolsch beer glasses balanced on specially designed trays in the traditional pub, and the workers on Monday evening at Fords. There are the businessmen in the hotels, and the tourists on the excursion boats going up the Rhine to the Drachenfels and down to Dusseldorf. Cologne is undoubtedly a rich city, but as everywhere else in Germany over the last decades, the gap between rich and poor has been increasing.

Eight Days A Week

Liverpool Group

>> basement Project, History into basement, Liverpool, England

>> Bryan Biggs, Artist and Director of the Bluecoats Art Centre, Liverpool, England.

>> Dave Bixter, Artist and Co-Founder of Dying Frog, Liverpool, England.

>> James Buso, Artist and part of Royal Standard, Liverpool, England.

>> Pete Clarke, Artist and Head of Fine Art at UCLAN (Preston), Liverpool, England.

>> Alan Dunn, Artist and associated to Tenant Spin and FACT, Liverpool, England.

>> Lin Holland, Artist and Lecturer at Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool, England.

>> Julie Jones, Artist and affiliate to Arena Studios, Liverpool, England.

>> Tony Knox, Artist and Curatorial Researcher for Podgy, Liverpool, England.

>> Paul Luckraft, Artist, Liverpool, England.

>> George Lund, Artist and Founder of Animal Utopia, Liverpool, England.

>> Susan Leask, Artist and Co-Curator of basement, Liverpool, England.

>> Geoff Molyneux, Artist and Lecturer at Liverpool Community College, Liverpool, England.

>> Neil Morris, Artist and Lecture at Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, England.

>> Margaretha Schoening, Artist and Co-Curator of basement, Liverpool, England.

>> Gaynor Evelyn Sweeney, Artist and Founder of Transvoyeur, Liverpool, England.

>> Adam Webster, Liverpool Musician and part of Frakture, Liverpool, England.

Cologne Group

>> Georg Gartz, Artist, Cologne, Germany.

>> Jurgen Kisters, Writer, Art Critic and Journalist, Cologne, Germany.

>> Veronika Moos Brockhagen, Artist, Cologne, Germany.

>> Kolner Stadt Enzieger, Cologne, Germany.

>> Tine Wille, Artist, Cologne, Germany.

Website Design: Tony Knox