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The following text accompanied the work in the exhibition "The Failure" at Korridor, Berlin (2005), curated by Sabine Schmidt and Fanny Gonella
"Toteninsel (as a failure)," 2002-2005
Wood, plaster, screws, styrofoam, cardboard, spray paint,
fixative, sand, pebbles, artificial grass and shrubbery
85,5 x 100 x 52 cm.
I started working on a model from Arnold Böchlin's paintings called "Toteninsel" in the beginning of 2002 and continued to work on the piece until the end of 2004. Böchlin painted five versions of the motif between 1880-1886 and my project started with the idea of constructing a model in an attempt to remove the dark mysterious image of the original painting that hangs in the Altes Museum in Berlin. But the model developed into a deserted ruin in an ocean that has dried out. The garden of trees has burned down and the steep walls surrounding it has crumbled into pieces of dust and sand.
Though I enjoyed making the work, and I find the paintings of Böchlin extremely powerful and inspiring, I did not find a strong reason or logic in my own approach to this work in particular. There were numerous ideas of adding elements like stranded rusty shipping containers of Carlsberg (I happened to see a Carlsberg advertisement with a Toteninsel-like landscape in the background), to placing a 7-Eleven sign over one of the tombs, and constructing a little drive-in cinema screen in the centre of the island and projecting random 8mm nature films (which was to be called "Zombie Drive-in Cinema"), but they were all discarded. I did not even feel that I could keep the current work as it exists nor go back and just produce a model of the actual painting.
The work represents a collapse of inspiration and I consider it a failed idea.