On the Emscher island near the Gelsenkirchen Locks, just a short distance from the cycle path next to the Emscher one unexpectedly encounters a huge rock formation. As one approaches, a quiet music becomes audible that seems to be emanating from inside the mountain. Embedded on sand, the mountain has a strange appearance, as if a glacial boulder had somehow found its way to this spot. In fact it is an artistic work by Olaf Nicolai and Douglas Gordon, created for the 2010 Emscherkunst exhibition.
Olaf Nicolai built a faithful reproduction of a rock formation in the Joshua Tree National Park near Los Angeles und installed it on the highest spot of the so-called Wild Island between the Emscher river and the Rhine-Herne Canal. The artificial mountain itself sits on top of an artificial mound, namely a waste tip made of the soil excavated during the construction of the nearby locks and the Rhine-Herne Canal. This aside, nature here has been left to its own devices. Visible in the background is the vast industrial scenery of the Ruhr Oel refineries.
This »unnatural natural phenomenon«, as Nicolai describes the work, consists of a steel frame coated in shot concrete, which at first sight looks deceptively similar to a massive natural rock formation. But the mountain is hollow, and on the inside harbours a sound system which during the summer months plays a looped, 23-minute composition by the Scottish band Mogwai, »Music for a Forgotten Future (The Singing Mountain)« that was commissioned by Douglas Gordon.
»Monument for a Forgotten Future« can be taken as a symbol for the extensive conversion of the landscape in the Emscher valley and emphasises that even seemingly wild nature can in fact be human-made and thus subordinate to human interests. At the same time, this allusion to one of the most famous national parks in the US evokes a romantic image of untouched nature: the touristic fascination of Joshua Tree’s desert landscape lies not only in its unique vegetation and characteristic rock formations, but also because it is the epitome of the US ›frontier landscape‹ whose romanticism and monumentality stand for the departure into the New World.
Beautiful from above: The works of art on the Emscherkunstweg can also be admired from the air.
Artificial rock and sound installation
Steel construction, concrete, render, sound system
Dimensions rock: approx. 10 x 9 x 17 m
The »Monument for a Forgotten Future« is located on the Wild Island, where the vegetation is more or less left to its own devices.
Covering an area of some 150 sq. metres, the construct carries 123 tons of concrete.