A water fountain on Potsdamer Platz

Eureka, Potsdamer Platz © Raul Walch

Raul Walch

A Fountain of Knowledge, 2024

When Raul Walch was doing research for Radical Playgrounds, he spotted his childhood friend, the son of playground designer Ute Fritzsch, in one of the historical photos of GDR playgrounds. He reached out to him and his mother, now in her 80s, and so the dialogue commenced. Walch studied Ute Fritzsch’s designs, her playgrounds in Frankfurt (Oder) and her ideas for dealing creatively with the scarcity and simplicity of materials available to her in East Germany at the time. The artist has long been interested in elementary themes such as water, wind, sun and temperature. His sculptures can be found in public spaces on lake-sailing boats, on flags blowing in the wind or on kites flying in the sunshine. Both artists share a poetic and concrete approach to reality as well as a need for collaborative processes.

The Fountain of Knowledge invites visitors to cool off under the trees and pays tribute to water as a basic necessity and our right to access this resource. The fountain is located in a pond that resembles a thermal map of Berlin on some of the hottest days in recent years. On the floor is a variation of Ute Fritzsch’s Maxi-Baukasten as a modular cushion installation. It resembles a large, incomplete puzzle that can be used to build a small house or a hiding place, for example. By playing with the installation, visitors can reorganise the space and thereby rethink the world and their basic rights to public space and develop a greater respect for the element of water. The fountain also invites intergenerational encounters, the sharing of responsibility for the planet and the desire for the transformative power of play. After all, street fountains were some of the first playgrounds for children in the city.

Raul Walch is a visual artist and activist who lives and works in Berlin. Driven by political and ecological commitment, he makes sailboats, mobiles, kites and flags, often as part of a collaborative, performative process.