Andreas Slominski/Ayse Erkmen

This show, which featured work by German artist Andreas Slominski and Turkish artist Ayse Erkmen, was the inaugural exhibition in a series of site-specific collaborations entitled “Zuspiel” (Pass to the side), to take place in Germany and Switzerland over the next two years.

The title of Erkmen’s installation, Portiport, 1996, played on the words “airport” and “Portikus.” Installed at the entrance to the building, the piece consisted of seven metal detectors placed between and to the sides of the six classical columns on the front of the building, so that anyone who wished to enter the space was subjected to a security check similar to the one you ordinarily find in an airport. If the devices detected a metal object, there was an eruption of loud noises and flashing lights.

After passing through Portiport, one found Slominski’s untitled project. The remnants of a wooden construction lying around on the floor turned out to be the discarded sails of an old windmill, which the artist had arranged to have transported from northern Germany. The sails were massive in size, each approximately 11 meters in length. Overgrown with moss and encrusted with dark earth, mushrooms, and bits of birds’ nests, the sails were of a kind that are no longer made in northern Germany; old and brittle, they were redolent of decay. To the right of the entrance stood an axe and, next to that, a large handsaw. During the exhibition, the artist used these tools to chop the sails into firewood, which he burned, bit by bit, inside an old stove in the rear of the space.

This collaborative effort had a profoundly unsettling effect on the spectator: together, the two works served as a haunting meditation on the border between self and memory, between the elusiveness of the past and the mechanized control systems in contemporary society.

Noemi Smolik

Translated from the German by Vivian Heller.