Plants small and large can be glimpsed through the large display windows of the 140m² shop premises at Bahnhofstraße 82a in Herne. From the outside, one can only guess that the furniture of the former McDonald’s outlet remains almost unchanged since 2011. In the stories of Silke Schönfeld’s (*1988) multi-part video installation Family Business personal recollections merge with collective remembrance.
After the first European outlet opened its doors in Amsterdam in 1971, the Ruhr Area was quick to follow: the Vossen family from Herne gave up their traditional business Spezialhaus Berns – Haus der Geschenke in Herne’s pedestrian zone and in its place opened the Ruhr Area’s first McDonald’s in the summer of 1976. The hopes and expectations that were raised by entering the franchise business during the 1970s are contrasted in Silke Schönfeld’s film installation with the shop’s present-day reality. Family Business portrays how the place has evolved from a household goods store to a fast food restaurant and its temporary function as a rehearsal room for bands. In three film chapters, the history of this site and its protagonists is interwoven with broader themes that continue to exert a marked influence on the region: from structural change and the changing concept of work to the future of our inner cities and what culture means for the Ruhr Area. Here the history of a retail shop unit exemplifies the idea of the Americanisation of post-war West German society and, not least, the social atmosphere of the period around the millennium and the changing social ideas of consumerism, food culture and leisure.
The installation Family Business was developed as part of the exhibition Ruhr Ding: Klima and was on display from May 22—June 27, 2021 in Herne.