COW the udder way
What if you woke up one day with a herd of cows outside your front door?
On the 18th July 2005, in the early hours of the morning, 5 cows, 5 calves, 3 stockmen and a milking parlour arrived in Toxteth. They remained for 9 days and cows grazed in various vacant sites in Toxteth.
The COW the udder way project focused on Liverpool and effects of ‘shrinkage’ on the inner city areas of Toxteth. Through engagement with the public, the performance/event created a platform for debate on how derelict or neglected land could be used in the future, and suggested urban agriculture as one way of appropriating these spaces.
The event recieved great interest from the local press, radio and television. Documentation from the event has also been exhibited globally as part of the Shrinking Cities Exhibition tour.
Shrinking Cities Reinventing Urbanism:
‘In January 2004 the Shrinking Cities Project, a project initiated by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (German Federal Cultural Foundation), together with the magazine archplus organized the international ideas competition Shrinking Cities – Reinventing Urbanism. The competition’s goal is to find new modes of action; new ideas of the city based on the specific peculiarities of shrinkage, and those, which follow an interdisciplinary approach. Teams from around the world were encouraged to develop projects with the theme of shrinkage for one of the four locations under investigation (Halle/Leipzig, Manchester/Liverpool, Detroit and Ivanovo).
The current international process concerning the shrinkage of cities radically challenges the subject matter of the traditional disciplines of spatial design, architecture and urban planning.
Dynamics and growth were the formative dimensions characterizing the urban modernisation and a relatively balanced spatial development in the 20th century. The current spatial polarisation between islands of growth and places of decline, which leads to the dereliction of whole cities and regions, does not discharge the space-oriented disciplines from their responsibility to design. Symbolic strategies of revaluation via iconic architecture as well as the artifcial urban hype via consumerism and entertainment are exhausted. The competition Shrinking Cities – Reinventing Urbanism does not only ask for the scope of designing shrinkage but also challenges the traditional tools of the space-oriented disciplines. Given the radical structural changes of urbanity spaces can no longer be functionally, socially, let alone aesthetically pre-programmed.
Shrinking Cities website
Shrinking Cities, reinventing urbanism competition, 2004
Award: Winning entry
Team: Paul Cotter (film-maker), Gareth Morris (architect), Heidi Rustgaard (choreographer), Eike Sindlinger (architect), Ulrike Steven (architect), Susanne Thomas (choreographer, seven sisters group).
Participating in the action in Liverpool were Mark Davis, Neil Pinguenet, Mark Saunders from Westcott Farm Devon.
Funding: German Fedural Cultural Foundation
Location: Toxteth, Liverpool.
COW the udder way was exhibited as part of the touring exhibition Shrinking Cities:
Germany, Leipzig: “Shrinking Cities – Concepts” Leipzig Gallery for Contemporary Art. 26th November – 29th January 2005/06
USA, New York: Pratt Manhattan Gallery / Van Alen Institute, December 8th 2006 – February 21st 2007.
USA, Detroit: Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills / Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), February 3rd – April 2nd 2007
USA, Cleveland: SPACES Gallery und Cleveland Urban Design Center, April 20th – June 8th 2007.
Britain, Manchester: CUBE / Liverpool: RENEW Rooms, November 16, 2007 to January 26, 2008.
Germany, Dortmund: Museum am Ostwall, February 17th – April 27th, 2008
Germany, Duisburg: Liebfrauenkirche, February 26th – May 11th 2008
Canada, Montreal:The Canadian Centre for Architecture, November 2008 to 2009
The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Chicago.15th of October 2009 – 15th March, 2010.
what the jury said:
“Cow the Udder Way is an artistic-performance project which gives insights into the mental and psychological constitution of inner-city suburbia. A herd of cows is brought into the center of Liverpool for two weeks and, in addition, various (in part participatory) actions connected to the animals take place. These actions, and the reactions of passers-by and the local media to them, are to be videotaped. The theme of this entry is the symbolic selfpreserving and self-supplying system: the cow grazing on unused urban land as a supplier of different (and unusual) products, e.g. manure as a source of energy, urine as a cosmetic product, methane gas for burning, etc. Using an agro-urban bottom-up-method, the possibilities of an urban rethinking are visualized, in which the shrinking city is viewed as a new area for production and the public is invited to a discussion of alternative planning methods. The jury liked the provocative character of the entry. The project’s potential for stimulating a cultural discussion about the transformation and the reprogramming of urban areas is especially convincing.“
Jury report: Azra Aksamija, Ruedi Baur, Regina Bittner, Stefano Boeri, Anne Lacaton, Georg Schöllhammer
27/06/05 BBC NW evening news ”Jersey by the Mersey
28/06/05 Liverpool Echo ”Amazing Graze”
30/06/05 BBC Radio Merseyside breakfast show
24/06/05 Farmers Guardian ”Jerseys take a city break”
02/07/05 Farmers Weekly ”Merseyside visit for DevonJerseys”
25/11/05 Leipziger Tageszeitung 25.11.2005 “Kühe inder Leerstelle”
01/2006 Green Futures “Move over Tracey”
09/10/05 Independent, The Sunday Review ‘Daisy’s Big Adventure”
01/2006 Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
2005 Shrinking Cities, Volume 2, Interventions (Hatje Cantz)
2008, Actions: What you can do with the city (Canadian Centre for Architecture)
exhibitions: Shrinking Cities