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Emscher Folly

Nicole Wermers

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
47166 Duisburg
Public transport

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

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

Nicole Wermers

Nicole Wermers (*1971 in Emsdetten) lives and works in London and Emsdetten. Since 2017 she has been a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. Among other things, she was a fellow of the German Academy Villa Massimo in Rome in 2012 and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2015. In her sculptures, photographs and collages, the artist combines formal questions with investigations of urban space and its social, economic and psychological inscriptions. The artist's work reveals a reference to the design of everyday objects, renegotiating their purposeful use within recompositions, often in combination with other materials, forms, and contexts.

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