The two artists Mischa Kuball and Lawrence Weiner were invited to each contribute a work to the 2010 Emscherkunst exhibition. Their collaboration first developed during the preparations and planning for the former Bottrop-Ebel sewage treatment plant, which resulted in the joint work »CATCH AS CATCH CAN«.
The present-day BernePark instantly appealed to a number of artists back then. So with Piet Oudolf & Gross.Max, and Andreas Strauss, altogether five different artistic strategies are represented here. If the Ruhr region is associated predominantly with disused collieries and steelworks, sewage plants are surely some of the more unusual former industrial sites to have found new uses by becoming public parks and, at the same time, monuments. Up into the late 1990s, they were still an essential part of the above-ground Emscher wastewater system throughout the region which since the early 20th century had regulated the flow and treatment of grey water from industrial works and private households, thereby also ensuring the containment of pandemics such as typhoid and cholera.
In one of the septic tanks Piet Oudolf realized with Gross.Max the »Theatre of Plants”. The light installation by Mischa Kuball is installed in both edges of the pool.
Ebelstrasse 25 a
From Bottrop Hauptbahnhof (main station) with Bus 261 (towards Bottrop Bergbaustrasse) to the stop Bottrop Bergbaustrasse or S16 (towards Essen Hauptbahnhof) to the stop Bottrop Ebel, continue on foot for about 450 m.
Under a shared title the two artists created independent works in their respectively typical media of light and text, which they turned into a dialogue with one another. At night Mischa Kuball’s light installation illuminates the plant’s two former clarifying basins with a strip of white light that constantly revolves around the edge of each basin. The dynamic movement of the circling light is echoed in Lawrence Weiner’s flamboyant illuminated lettering of »CATCH AS CATCH CAN« mounted on a fine wire construction, which initially was installed on the roof of the plant’s main building. Restoration work on the listed historical building required the object to be shifted, so since 2020 its new location has been on the flat roof of the semi-circular extension building. In an ironic commentary Weiner casts the entire premises of the former sewage treatment plant in the light of this proverbial motto, saying »make the best of what you have«. In a manner typical of the artist, Weiner works with text and typography – in this case in the form of an old-fashioned advertising panel in the style of the 1950s and ’60s, thereby referencing the period of the plant’s construction. Nowadays, BernePark is extremely popular as a site for leisure and recreation.
Rotating light installation in both settling basins, lettering on the roof of the former operations building
Fluorescent LED tubes, metal construction
CATCH AS CATCH CAN,
Lights are changing!
What you can’t keep,
Not longer than a glimpse,
Or a twinkle of your eyes
NIMM ES WIE ES IST,
If you can!
Somewhere or Anywhere,
CATCH AS CATCH CAN.
Mischa Kuball/Lawrence Weiner, März 2013