Once each decade since 1977 the city of Münster has hosted a city-wide sculpture exhibition. I was able to spend nearly two days at Skulptur Projekte Münster 07. One of the wonderful features of this project is that the thirty-three works created for 2007 can be visited along with thirty-seven works from previous years that are still in place around the city. Happily, it is necessary to rent a bicycle to see many of the outlying sculptural installations (a rented bicycle is shown here in front of Ilya Kabakov’s lyrical antenna of poetry “Blikst Du hinauf und liest die Worte…” [“Looking up. Reading the Words…”].
Some of the most successful works are those that have a meaningful association with historical sites or events specific to Münster, such as Martha Rosler’s Unsettling the Fragments [Erschütterung der Fragmente] which focuses attention on a number of aspects of the city’s history such as the cages on the tower of Church of Saint Lambert that were used to display the executed bodies of Anabaptists, such as Jan van Leyden (who can be seen in a brilliant engraving by Albrecht Aldegrever). I also enjoyed Andeas Siekmann’s Trickle down. Der öffentliche Raum im Zeitalter seiner Privatisierung [Trickle down. Public Space in the Era of its Privatization], and Bruce Nauman’s Square Depression [Quadratische Senkung].
Everyone I spoke to in the community loved Rebecca Horn’s, Das gegenläufige Konzeert (The Contrary Concert) – an installation work in one the cities old fortifications that was used in the Second World War to interrogate, torture and kill prisoners. Horn’s installation is largely auditory. The dimly lit corridors and rooms of this masonry maze have many mechanized hammers that slowly tap at the structure. Other sounds come from an electrical arc and a device that lets drops of water fall from the center of the fortification to a pool below. These subtle sounds provide all that the visitor needs to forge fuller associations internally.
Bicycles rounded out this visit, through the delightful work of Guy Ben-Ner, I’d give it to you if I could, but I borrowed it [Ich gäbe es dir, wenn ich könnte, aber es ist nur geliehen]. To view this piece the viewer pedals something like an exercise bicycle that powers a video display (the faster you pedal, the faster the video runs; pedal backward and the video runs backwards as well). Spoiler alert → the video concerns bicycle parts, specifically those found in a museum: sculptural works by Jean Tinguely, Pablo Picasso, and Marcel Duchamp. In the video, Ben-Ner, his son and his daughter proceed to whisk the works, past a dozing guard and out of the museum where the clever family recombines the parts to form a working bicycle. Lovely!