The sculpture Emscher Folly is located in an open space between the Duisburg Alte Emscher wastewater treatment plant, the Bruckhausen steelworks by the Alter Emscher river and the Alsumer Berg slag heap. Nearby is where the Emscher originally flowed into the Rhine.
Here, artist Nicole Wermers has welded dozens of bicycles onto a steel structure to create a triangular sculptural form. Her installation transfers an image familiar from urban contexts to an inhospitable locale defined by industrial production – a scenario also referenced in the work’s title »Folly«. Folly is the name given to a type of decorative architecture in eighteenth-century European garden and landscape design.
Follies are ornamental, often eccentric edifices that suggest a function, but are in general without purpose. At the same time, Wermers’s sculpture refers to the artificiality of a landscape that has been extensively shaped by human activity such as the Emscher region. Stripped of their intended purpose, the design of the bikes is all the more striking. Their being permanently welded to the steel tube base creates an aesthetic of sudden standstill and dramatic compaction.
In much of her work the London-based artist explores moments and zones of transition in public space. The focus of her sculptural and photographic works lies particularly on architectural threshold situations, but also on their materiality, such as different kinds of floor surfacing. Equally significant are gestures and sculptural codes that we have learned to intuitively understand and whose requirements we generally fulfil. For Nicole Wermers, the moment of locking a bicycle to a public bicycle stand is one such moment: bike racks are symbols of our present-day mobile imperative, while at the same time prescribing a structuring order. The Emscher Folly conserves this polarity, thereby taking it to absurd lengths.
Kläranlage Duisburg-Alte Emscher Alsumer Straße 215
From Duisburg Hauptbahnhof by Bus 901 until Scholtenhofstrasse, Subway 901 until Matenastrasse, 25 min. walk on Kaiser-Wilhelm-Strasse in the direction of Eilperhofstrasse/Matenastrasse
APPROACH BY BIKE
Access by bicycle is possible via the cycle paths along the Alte Emscher.
01.04.-30.09., 9:00-22:00 Uhr
01.10.-31.03., 10:00-17:00 Uhr
Concrete foundation, stainless steel tube, modified bicycles