Tuesday, August 05, 2014


The nearest Gregor Schneider work to New Zealand is probably the installation currently on display at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. John Kaldor gave to the work to the gallery also invited Schneider to Australia where he made an installation on Bondi beach. About seven years ago we missed an opportunity to participate in one of Schneider’s large scale installations but that wasn't going to happen twice.

We turned up at Neuerburgstrasse 21 in the suburbs of Cologne about half an hour early and waited on the street outside a door into an enormous factory that is now a theatre complex. Two minutes before the due time the staff turned up. Only one person could enter the work and each entry was separated by five minutes.  There was a detailed briefing with lots of warnings about the dark and advice on what to do if you had a panic attack (unlikely) and then you were in. In the dark that is. Move forward a couple of steps, extend your arms wide and feel around, shuffle forward again. It was unnerving to start with until you realized you were in a long maze-like tunnel and could just touch either side by stretching your arms out. (move forward a couple of steps) After some winding and stopping to check if you were at a corner (move forward again) you felt (or more likely bumped into) a closed door. Oh, oh. (open the door) Abruptly you stepped into an immaculately tiled bathroom. It felt institutional with a closed shower box (try the sliding door. Locked), a mirror, a few pipes, a couple of light switches that didn't work and another door. No hand basin, no toilet, no window. (open the door) Back in the dark again and more shuffling until after a few turns another door (open the door). Same room. Well another copy of the same room. Identical down to the leaking showerhead. And so it went, corridor after corridor, door after door, bathroom after identical bathroom. We weren't counting but there must have been about 15 of them and then (open the door) and you were out in the sunlight at the back of the building. Thanks G.

Images: top, the factory converted into Schauspiel Koln where Gregor Schneider installed Neuerburgstrasse 21. Bottom, left entrance and right exit