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Dalmine was still almost a village when the company was founded. There were fewer than 3,000 inhabitants living there at the turn of the century, but the location was good. The Bergamo province is a rich area in Lombardy not far from Milan. On the city coat of arms, an oak branch is connected to a bay leaf twig to form a slender wreath. The three-part field shows a tower, a lily and a goat. Above them hovers a crown, which is formed from a town wall with five fortified towers. Today, more that 20,000 people live in Dalmine – a population boom to which the industry has contributed immensely. The company, which has the same name as the town, specialised in scaffolding early on – a functional technique in the spirit of the modern age, but which is also of importance for the preservation and renovation of the traditional, rich architecture of Northern Italy. Dalmine’s technique supports the buildings that were designed by futurism, brutalism and functionalism, and it supports and preserves the restoration and renovation of works on buildings that date from the early Middle Ages. Meanwhile, however, Dalmine has expanded the scope of its operations; in the mountains of Lombardy, the heritage of the Industrial age is bought, refurbished, changed and newly structured.

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Among the services listed on the internet for its members, the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce provides pages which offer valuable tips and instructions for planning and conducting company anniversaries:

1. Give your anniversary a central theme! What does your company stand for? What is the company’s message? A central theme such as a motto or slogan gives your company’s anniversary a clear profile for customers and employees. It is important that these emanate from your company’s own philosophy. All activities during the anniversary year should be tailored to the central theme as this forms the golden thread for all the anniversary statements and defines your anniversary’s character. Article 2 is about the guests (good proposals from the departments should be considered), article 3 is about the involvement of employees. Incentives should be considered early and furthermore, (article 4) the anniversary is a good occasion to attract the media’s attention. Holding a press conference is recommended as well as having a photo shoots or involving television.
Not mentioned – today – is releasing a publication, a measure that was popular especially for big, location bound companies in the last century.

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Jean—Could you tell me roughly what tubolari means? And attrezzature?

Raymond—Do you want to translate this book or not?  It doesn’t make much sense if you are still isolating a few words… In Italian, you have to understand things in their context.

Jean—The captions are so beautifully set. Partially in differently sized capital letters. The names always all written out in full. On this photo, nearly fifty employees are gathered together, all first and surnames are quoted in full. The photo was taken by a professional and is perfectly illuminated. You can recognize the warehouses in the background, even the factory.

 Raymond—Who published such books? People would have surely rather read a few poems – or the newspaper.

Jean—The book tells the complete company story. “Dalmine” published it itself, for its 50th anniversary.
It is beautiful – expensively bound, elaborately printed. I’m sure it was a present for valued employees
or customers.

Raymond—So a hymn.

Jean—If you wish. But I don’t understand most of it anyway. When I was working on BASF or Philips, I
was actually doing interviews, reading up on chronicles – but also analysing newspaper archives, business
news, the publications of unions. This is different. This is magic. Dalmine, Dalmine, Dal-

Cerisy—You discovered that in Stuttgart, didn’t you? In the Museum of Technology. Here’s the stamp. Did you steal the book?

Jean—Maldine, listen. You shouldn’t take it all so literally. The sound is so beautiful. Have you seen the preface, how it’s decorated? Like a treaty. With a seal and three signatures. Or is that a greeting?

Raymond—You don’t really want to know.

Pastior—Look, I framed the drafts. They look like hand drawings. Turn it, unbelievably finely drawn. Are things like that done with ink?

Jean—Is this a measurement of the plant floor?

Pastior: No – these are longitudinal sections of the drill heads.

Raymond—Looks like a halved tattoo.

Jean—Or like a company logo. Maybe you could colour them in. Or the background.

Pastior—Then do a serigraph. But that’s going to be really expensive.

Jean—Then it wouldn’t look so clean any more. It is all about looking really simple. Like off the drawing board. The model workshop has sawed it out accurately, to the decimillimetre. The edge lengths were changed three times in the process. That means they were updated almost daily.

Pastior—Here is the tube. We’ve also got one made of silver.

Jean—No, that doesn’t fit. I will maybe take something from this disposal company in Hamburg, “Isländer”, after all. Although, in fact, they deal with hazardous waste – toxins, disposal of polluted water,
harbour sanitation…

Cerisy—Did you also get these magazines from your friend in the archives? Shall we take something from them?

Jean—They were just lying there. I wanted to look up something. The meaning of “yeggs”. No, not so exciting. That would be going too far.

Cerisy—And here, the interviews.

Jean—They are in Dutch. That’s still from the Philips period. Look, here is another organization chart. It looks like a tree.

Raymond—A square tree with leaves made of business cards.

Jean—In script, set by hand and designed to unfold. The book-binder had to glue that into every edition by hand.

Raymond—He had it glued in. Look here, maybe from the year of foundation, it’s handwritten. The engineers back then had incredible handwriting: x+7, y+7, z+7…

Jean—That was a different era. The book is like a vade mecum for this journey, for this different
country. Dalmine. It is an opening into a lost world. Everybody needs such a window.

Pastior—What do you need these dictionaries for? That’s English, all in English?

Raymond—He uses them to alienate texts.

Jean—These photographs from the workshop really grab one’s attention. This one almost looks as if it was taken by August Sander. So precisely worked through. From the deep dark grey to the light sand on the hall’s floor. You can see every grain.

Pastior—Do we also need these instructions for the room? They are nearly falling apart. That could be difficult.

Jean—No, it shouldn’t look nostalgic. I don’t want to reconstruct anything. It should look really simple.
Everybody should play along. Clearly.

 

Lucy Porch, press release for opening:

JAMES BECKETT
DALMINE (AND OTHER INDUSTRY
EXTRACT-ARRANGEMENTS)

05/09—04/10/08

LÜTTGENMEIJER
SCHILLINGSTRAßE 31
10179 BERLIN
MAIL@LUETTGENMEIJER.COM

T.+49 (0)30 2804 5805


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