Raum AU – the space of Arte Utile

Year 1972–76
Text by Pino Poggi
Tiny sign hangs over door of house. Handwritten message on sign.
Entrance Raum AU

The idea of Raum AU was born in 1965 together with the Manifest AU. Opening a space for Arte Utile had always been an idea I absolutely wanted to realize, although my private circumstances forced me to put this idea on hold for five years. Finally i could realize it in 1970 after I had decided to settle in Regensburg (Germany). From the municipal real estate management i got – for a moderate sum – two floors of a large, abandoned block of houses in the city centre. An optimal location for what I had planned!
I used the ground floor almost immediately. One half as a warehouse and the other as an AU Cultural Centre designed for the youths who had been wandering the city and would rather spend time doing something else (the older ones helped the younger ones and I took care of the older ones if I found the time).

§ kids in front of shopwindow next to entrance. Poster with handwritten note hangs inside window.
“The kids’ room opens every Saturday at 13:00”

Later I used the floor above as the Raum AU. During this time I was forced to work as graphic designer during the day, as teacher in the evening and also do many other things. Otherwise I could not have afforded the Raum AU. Time and a strong will helped me to finally accomplish it.

Ground floor plan
Floor plan

Raum AU officially opened its doors in late 1972 but the starting period was a fiasco. People are not as alive and open-minded in Germany as I was used to in Italy. The Germans at that time seemed reserved, isolated and very shy what forced me into a completely different procedure as planned. So I had to run from door to door and inform the people about the new centre for art and culture at Arnulfplatz 4 (the address of the Raum AU), where each of them can participate in Oper’Actions with artists and in improvisations takeing place in Raum AU.

I had my first success at the end of 1973 when more than 30 people came. From that evening on more and more people came to the Raum AU up to the point at which approximately 600 people came regularly. I had to reject visitors, because there was simply not enough space (free admission!). In 1976 the city’s property management evicted me. I tried to resist and filed a lawsuit in court but lost the trial. Today there is a underground car park at the location.

What exactly was the Raum AU?

Raum AU was a space where Arte Utile took place – an alternative space, a mixed media work of art. All what happened to the audience in Raum AU became a work of art. In fact for me the Raum AU was also an Environment AU because it proposed a new phase in the artistic evolution. Everything imaginable happened there: Exhibitions, actions, theatres, cabarets, dances, improvisations, etc. The public who entered the Raum AU to see an exhibition AU made by artist X, got involved and participated in what seemed proper and essential at the moment. Free to do what they wanted and when they wanted. No matter if you were the artist, waiter, cook, singer, dealer, cabaret artist, poet, composer, street vendor, carpenter or even the gardener! The Raum AU was able to offer all those possibilities and many more. […]

Download entire speech-text (pdf): Italian
Download alternative text (pdf): German