Until A.D. 3183, This public sculpture is a work in progress

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Monday, June 17, 2024


Until A.D. 3183, This public sculpture is a work in progress
A maquette for the “Time Pyramid” proposed in 1993 by the artist Manfred Laber, a Wemding resident who died in 2018, to mark the 1,200-year anniversary of the German town, Sept. 9, 2023. The sculpture is being assembled one block per decade by the residents of the town, with 116 more to add before it will be completed … in A.D. 3183. (Felix Schmitt/The New York Times)

by Richard Fisher



WEMDING.- It could be mistaken for an abandoned construction site: a row of rectangular concrete blocks on a bare, square foundation.

Yet on Saturday, a crowd of around 300 people gathered on a hill outside the town of Wemding, in southern Germany, as a crane lowered another block into place, alongside the first three. Some spectators had traveled from as far as San Francisco.

They came to see the latest stage in the construction of the “Time Pyramid” (“Zeitpyramide”), a public artwork that Wemding’s citizens are assembling at a rate of one 6-by-4-foot block every decade. There are 116 more to add before the “Time Pyramid” will be complete, when it will stand 24 feet tall. That won’t be until A.D. 3183.

Artist Manfred Laber, a Wemding resident who died in 2018, proposed the “Time Pyramid” project in 1993 to mark the 1,200-year anniversary of his town. While he specified the material, dimensions and placing order, he left Wemding’s citizens to decide how it evolves. In 2003, he and town officials established the Wemding Time Pyramid Foundation to manage and fund the artwork beyond his lifetime.

The foundation’s members have respected Laber’s plans so far, but that could change over the next millennium, as social norms, technologies and ideologies change. Perhaps future generations will daub colors or make carvings, for instance — but any predictions would be about as accurate as a Wemding citizen from A.D. 793 trying to imagine the town today.

Barbara Laber, the artist’s daughter, said in an interview that her father was relaxed about the project “going out of his personal control, taking its own path or being taken by the community in a direction he didn’t know yet.”

One of the town’s residents, Karl-Heinz John, a retired manager in the automotive industry who was at the ceremony Saturday, said he had attended all the block-laying events since 1993. He remembered a mixed response to the “Time Pyramid” in town at first. “There were some people who said ‘this is great, a really progressive idea,’” he said; others thought it was bananas.

One of the biggest sticking points was the use of concrete, which some residents found ugly and drab, Barbara Laber said. But her father “was very deliberately aware of the material,” she added. “He chose concrete to be visually neutral. It’s not a valuable material, it’s purely functional.” Another rock type, like marble, she added, would have carried other meanings and made the pyramid more “monumental.”




Klaus Schlecht, a member of the Wemding Time Pyramid Foundation, who knew the artist for many years, had another interpretation: Laber was playing with the word’s dual meaning. He may have been seeking to make time itself more concrete, more tangible, Schlecht said.

In the late 20th century, Laber was not the only German artist exploring time’s reach across generations. From 1982 to 1987, artist Joseph Beuys planted thousands of oak trees in the city of Kassel, central Germany, for a work called “7,000 Oaks.” And in 1996, sculptor Bogomir Ecker created “Tropfsteinmaschine,” an artificial stalactite dripping for 500 years in the Hamburger Kunsthalle museum, in Hamburg.

Since then, several other long-term art projects have begun across Europe and beyond. A few of their custodians attended the ceremony Saturday: They included the overseer of a musical performance in Halberstadt, Germany, that will last 639 years; of a poem that is unfolding over centuries on the cobblestones of a Dutch city’s streets; of an annual pilgrimage to maintain a Bronze Age chalk horse on a hillside in Oxfordshire, England; and of a giant clock in Texas that will tick for 10 millenniums.

Until recently, all these projects operated independently. But Michael Münker, whose day job is running a medical device firm in the Netherlands, recently established a network called LTAP (Long-term Art Projects) to share knowledge between custodians.

Münker is one of the organizers of “The Letters Of Utrecht,” the poem embedded in the streets of Utrecht, Netherlands. Each Saturday, a stonemason carves a new letter of the poem — drafted by members of a local poet’s guild — into a cobblestone and places it in the ground. Each letter is sponsored by a person or family, and there have been more than 1,200 so far. The plan is to continue beyond 2300, so long as Utrecht — a city just a few meters above sea level — is not underwater by then.

Münker said he knew that he would die before the poem ends, but that fact motivated him. “The idea of ‘passing on’ from one generation to the next can be valuable,” he said in an interview. “What unites all the projects is a 100-plus-year view. If you want to keep and continue something for 100 years, it’s not going to be you doing it.”

In a speech at the ceremony Saturday, Münker said the “Time Pyramid” and the other projects can remind people that each generation has a duty to posterity, with the power to leave legacies behind that expand their descendants’ options and possibilities — or curb them. “Future generations currently have no rights; nobody stops us from harming them,” he said. “We should change that. Let us be good ancestors.”

In the audience were several generations of Wemding residents: children, parents, grandparents. Before the ceremony, a group of children had climbed on top of the 1993, 2003 and 2013 blocks, jumping between them. One of them, David Dinkelmayer, 9, left his teddy bear on top and it remained in place throughout — even as the crane lowered the latest addition. Afterward, his mother, Claudia Dinkelmayer, said she recalled attending the first ceremony, when she was around 5 or 6. For people who live in the town, recalling the pyramid’s progress helps mark periods of their life.

Later, after the crowd had gone, some ephemeral graffiti was visible on the side of the newly placed concrete block. Someone had daubed the date in mud with their finger; an attempt to mark a moment in time. Soon, it will fade away. As will all the people who came that day, eventually. But the blocks will endure, maybe even 1,200 years from now: a concrete representation of time’s slow passage.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.










Today's News

September 16, 2023

Fernando Botero, artist of whimsical rotundity, is dead at 91

When should a museum return looted items? It's complicated.

National Gallery of Art acquires prints by 50 artists from the Brandywine Workshop and Archives

Jane Lombard Gallery presenting solo exhibition 'The Monument'

Julien's Auctions announce 'Brady Bunch and More: Eve Plumb's Jan Brady & Career Archives'

'Michael Brown: Sotto Voce' new paintings on view at Marc Straus

Fifty newly created terra-cotta sculptures by Judy Fox featured in her exhibition 'Harvest' at Nancy Hoffman Gallery

An arts center opens at Ground Zero with stars, onstage and off

Treasures from the Adolphe & Philippe Stoclet's collections will be auctioned at Bonhams

Bonhams appoints Bénédicte van Campen as International Specialist of Impressionist and Modern Art in Paris

Multidisciplinary artist Hamed Ouattara now on view at Friedman Benda

Scottish artist Susan Philipsz opens exhibition at Konrad Fischer Galerie

'Winds of Yawanawa' by Refik Anadol and the Yawanawá, an Indigenous people of Brazil, debut in London

The first solo exhibition in the Middle East by Josh Rowell on view at Firetti Contemporary

'Skin and Body: Crazed Vessels by Kodai Ujiie' currently exhibiting at Ippodo Gallery

'Mimi Chen Ting: The Sea Within Me' to open at Louis Stern Fine Arts

Langson IMCA announces recent acquisition of 25 artworks expanding its representation of influential artists

With a pool and an airport hangar, an opera company gets nomadic

Until A.D. 3183, This public sculpture is a work in progress

Do studios dream of android stars?

'Death, Let Me Do My Show' review: Rachel Bloom can't shake the dread

Piano-playing hot-air balloon aerialists? Rochester Fringe Festival is back.

Betting in Poland: a century of change and a glimpse into the future

7 Reasons You Need to Try No Makeup

10 advantages of betting from mobile

7 tips to choose a safe toto site

7 Practical Tips to Pick the Right Toto Site to Play Casino Games

Bet Without Regret Now With The Stellar Toto Site!

6 Excellent Features About Toto Sites That Everyone Should Know

Zach Bryan Hoodie: A Must-Have for Every Die-Hard Fan




Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 



Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez
Writer: Ofelia Zurbia Betancourt

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful