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Christoph Niemann’s animations for the Obama Foundation celebrate civic commitment


Christoph Niemann: Sun

The Obama Foundation has commissioned Christoph Niemann to create a series of looping animations ahead of Barack Obama’s visit to Germany. The project aims to celebrate civic commitment and illustrate how the foundation is engaging with communities. “I want to celebrate the myriad ways large and (especially) small in which people around the world can make a difference,” says Niemann, in a Medium post about the project.

The German-born, New York-based artist has applied his signature hand-drawn style in black ink on six different, block colour backgrounds to create the series, which have been animated to loop in a short sequence. Perspective, for example, cuts from a globe to a house to the person in the house, and back again, aiming to show “the fluidity of ‘local’ and ‘global’” Christoph says. “The greatest challenges we face, like protecting our planet, require that we become better at focusing on what is far and near.”

Zipper is a visual metaphor for community, depicting troubled individual faces as the zip’s teeth coming together to form smiley faces once joined. Lamp, which Christoph says is his personal favourite, shows a person tugging at a lamp string to switch it on, and then, in turn, the lamp doing the same to the next human in line: “a very straightforward metaphor of spreading hope and insight that continues into a perpetual circle of inspiration”.

Sun shows a character pulling up the sun on an invisible pulley, intending to illustrate civic commitment at a community and personal level. “It’s important to remember that empathy, tolerance, and civic spirit are not burdensome virtues needed in extraordinary moments ,” says Christoph, “ they are pillars of everything that is worth celebrating about modern life.”


Christoph Niemann: Zipper


Christoph Niemann: Lamp


Christoph Niemann: Knitting


Christoph Niemann: Lights On


Christoph Niemann: Perspective