Skulpturenpark Berlin_Zentrum, Test Dig No. 1, Berlin, Opening Dec 4, 2011:
Artist Erik Smith began searching for building foundations to excavate in an overgrown, vacant lot in Berlin. After two days of digging, he unearthed the top of a curved wall, whereupon his shovel struck a hollow sound. Like an archeologist on the precipice of a chance discovery, Smith methodically uncovered a wholly intact, cast-iron, spiral staircase, a nineteenth-century remnant preserved below the “death strip” of the Berlin Wall.
The excavation is located at Skulpturenpark Berlin_Zentrum, on one of the few remaining “green zones” leftover from the Cold War division. The staircase and evidence of its discovery, an impressive pile of dirt and rubble, resonate in stark contrast to the massive construction sites and new buildings that surround it. At the center of this real estate frenzy, Smith produces an architecture, a staircase downward emerging.
Little is yet known about its history. The staircase is a recognizable entity, but like the missing floors above, anonymous and hermetic. As an artwork, Smith’s open-ended exploration calls to mind Nietzsche’s writings on the principle of a limited horizon – a space established in which one is not responsible to answer all questions or consider all perspectives. By holding them at bay, one can learn something else. In this way, it can be understood that the process of a discovery made in situ, with physical persistence, has its own status, and that knowing the "facts" might not help such a discovery, but only interrupt it.
<previous project next project> 2/12 | contact