Through ART ANECDOTES, Art From Us brings you funny, heart-warming and sometimes heartbreaking stories that shape Artists and their work. Today we look at the story of Gregor Schneider and a Tryst with Death.
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German artist Gregor Schneider is famous for his eerie and uncanny installations and constructed spaces. For one of his most famous works, Haus u r, where he remodeled a house on Unterheydener Straße in Mönchengladbach-Rheydt. For this ‘walk-in sculpture’, Schneider built replicas of the house’s existing rooms within the premises by installing fake partitions. Schneider’s ingenuity renders some of the fake rooms of the house inaccessible, leaving the viewer with a sense of confusion and uneasiness. So powerful has been the impact of his deception that visitor have even reported having frightening experiences within the house.
Gregor Schneider and a Tryst with Death
Putting people at complete discomfort – leaving them vulnerable both physically and mentally – is the essence of Schneider’s art. However, he took this idea perhaps a few steps too far. In spring of 2008, Schneider publicly announced his idea for his most chilling work yet. His plan, to put it simply, was to have a museum show exhibiting people dying. The artist described the piece as ‘performative’ and explained that his subjects would be people who were old or terminally ill. The museum would act as a kind of hospice, where the ill-fated could come and be.
When questioned Schneider defended his stance by saying that his piece would help eradicate the societal stigma associated with discussing death. Instead of people dying in hospitals, he wanted to provide them a more beautiful and personalised environment.
Schneider proposed his show to various big museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, who promptly rejected the controversial proposal, not least because of the sea of social activists who flood their premises otherwise.
When questioned why needed museum-backing for the show, Schneider said :
“To those who call me a coward for not putting myself up for the project, I would just like to say: when my time is up, I myself would like to die in one of my rooms in the private part of a museum. I live for my art, so I would like to die surrounded by art too. My aim would be to find a way of death that is beautiful and fulfilled: I couldn’t image a better place than a gallery to do so”
Galleries and museums across the world are probably praying Schneider doesn’t turn up at their door for this.
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