New poetry and the Ryck elixir of life

by Big-Jump-Team EN

A summary from »zwischenbericht« on the "Ryck Conquest" during Big Jump 2014, old port, Greifswald, July 13th, 2014


At first, »Ryckeroberung« or "Ryck Conquest", sounds like anarchy or revolution to an outsider. A revolution would be necessary to initiate effective change processes in dealing with nature, seen in the light of the alarming figures for water stress on the Ryck and the Baltic Sea. Political actions such as the Big Jumps are not so much confrontational, demanding or cataclysmic to the current system, rather these actions are enlightening and identity-forming, and in this way they contribute to a growing awareness of nature, especially in the younger generation. The mostly young Greifswalders who decided to jump into the Ryck on 13 July 2014, drew attention to the poor water quality, and made a public demonstration of this issue through this action. People of all generations came to witness the spectacle. The event highlights: a contemporary awareness of nature finds new forms to allow the exchange of knowledge, through which resistance and new collaborations can be made possible.


Let's go back 240 years in time: Caspar-David Friedrich, one of the leading representatives of Romantic painting, was born in Greifswald. He established himself in the early Romatic period through exploring and representing the relationship between humans, nature and art - artistic, imaginary, transfigured... A freedom that was not afforded to many people at that time. To make life and society poetic, was the political intention of the Romantics. Just as the early evening sun of the Greifswald port displays a similar horizon to what we know from CDF, similarly the gesture of young people jumping into the water, represents the sensory need for nature and could be considered romantic in a political sense. In this metaphorically rousing image, it is the individual who needs harmony and beauty as the elixir of life, like clean water.

We, Anja Schoeller and Kerstin Polzin, from »zwischenbericht« were invited by GETIDOS to the Ryck. To facilitate this growing awareness of nature, we took the cultural legacy of Greifswald - related to romance - as an opportunity to fully and concretely connect water flow to art. For the people who didn't "trust" in jumping, we offered a chance to make watercolours on this day - thus creating a way to get creative on how to grapple with the issue of water quality in the Ryck.

Watercolours, from the Latin "aqua" for "esterified water", are created with translucent colours and dilute water - in this case, the water came directly from the Ryck. Modeled colours, visions and desires for the landscape, and stories were included in the images.

More than 50 paintings were on the waterfront of the Ryck - representational, but also abstract and stylised. The simple old masters' technique was enthusiastically received by all generations. Impressions were generated directly from the locale, very much according to the desire and sense of how C.D. Friedrich would want it.

Noticeably, a feeling of "Ryck-reflection" came on while painting. It always came back to very interesting conversations with residents, for example those who had already been swimming in the Ryck as kids. Likewise, many young adults were happy for the moment, to take the time to paint their ideal water-landscape or beyond that, saw it as an opportunity to be inspired to take a moment for introspection and perceive the water and its diverse dimensions.

In the second part of the action, the works of art that were generously provided to us have been shipped from Greifswald to schools and partner cities in the Baltic states - a greeting to the neighbours on the common inland sea and an invitation to follow the idea and even send local self-made river watercolours back. These will be compiled and presented together in a 2015 River Watercolour Exhibition. The action also puts out a call to participate in further political actions and encounters that point together towards water protection and the natural space "Baltic Sea". A good opportunity is the Big Jump, the European River Swimming Day, which takes place on 12 July 2015 ( and the Youth Campaign - Big Jump Challenge, which was developed as early as autumn 2014, with youth groups from all over Europe contributing to the River Swmming Day in 2015.

We wish the project much success, and thank all the motivated Greifswald watercolour artists, who donated their images for this purpose. In the near future, the watercolours can be admired on the website of the Big Jump - we look forward to that!


A big thanks to the reliable, committed and dedicated crew of GETIDOS: Sabrina, Luke, Franziska, and Rafael, and to Anne from NABU!


Neoromantic greetings from

Anja and Kerstin



– Berlin/Fürth –

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