A Hotel Room for the Price of a Song?

Built in the 19th century, the house was first used for viticulture. Today it is a motley and colorful place, plastered with posters. The evening program for the hotel is written up on a white sheet of paper. Tonight's program is supposed to start at 8p.m.

The show begins slowly, and it's a little embarrassing. An English author, who lives nearby, reads a smattering of his lofty thoughts about love, the soul and death. A dancer bends and winds her body, crying and howling, then beating her fists against the door. A sculptor waves some strange object over the heads of the first row. Squashed together on mattresses on the floor, about 30 audience members sit through it all with serious faces. Nobody smiles but then neither are they leaving.

Bedtime Punk Concert

Kim films the proceedings with one hand and sometimes takes photographs with the other. Occasionally he does both at the same time. His objective is to build up an archive of performances. Twenty-five 60-minute tapes are already full. After the performance, Kim fills out coupons for the three performers because none of them are sleeping over tonight. Only Ralph and Frederick Fuller, twin brothers from London, want to avail of the accommodation. Earlier this evening they were at a Stuttgart gallery, then they were drinking at a local pub -- a pub they would like to get back to as soon as possible.

But they want to pay for their accommodation before they go out again -- with a little "good night concert" as they call it. So they put together a drum set and plug in an electric guitar and a dozen synthesizers. It's the same thing they usually do when they tour clubs with their experimental punk band Kurtz. Only this time the venue is a tiny bedroom and every second member of the audience looks sleepy. "Stick your fingers in your ears," they instruct the audience -- and two chords later, every person in the room is doing exactly that. It's a bizarre scene. Nobody will be drifting off to sleep anytime soon.

The Beginnings of an Alternative Economy

The hotel opened for business in the summer of 2009 and will shut up shop in summer 2010. That is when the city of Stuttgart plans to tear down the building, which stood empty for years before it was handed over to the Stuttgart arts academy for use as part of a temporary arts project. That project is called "District_East" and Kim's hotel is the center point for activities. "There was hardly any culture in the east of Stuttgart and I wanted to get something started here," Kim explains. The hotel is supposed to be a catalyst for artistic developments as well as the beginnings of an alternative economy: The exchange of two transitory items -- a fleeting artistic performance for an overnight stay.

Ever since Kim had first come to Stuttgart back in 2005 he had lived in the same studio in which he worked -- and the place was not all that well heated. Which is why he jumped at the chance, when his course leader at the art school asked him if he wanted to act as a custodian of the old house. He now lives there rent free.

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