EMPIRIEN is a series of interventions in public space (1998-2006) that work with the transposition of signs as an idea of reorganizing elements of our urban surroundings. These interventions are reduced to almost imperceptible events that through a redefinition, or reconstruction, of everyday space try to make visible different social mechanisms.
Without previous notice objects will be shifted and replaced in public and semi-public spaces. The users of those places take the initiative and reestablish the ‘normal’ everyday order of things and thereby go about dismantling the interventions.
Dialogue – Sabeth Buchmann & Mario Asef (text)
Ferry Bus Station, Hong Kong Central / Materials: twenty-five meters of thread /
In the Lorentz transformation, if the X´-axis opposite the X-axis is rotated around the zero point “0,” all points of the X´-axis (except 0‘) vanish from the observer’s experiential realm in reference system S into the fourth dimension. This seems to contradict all normative experience.
One must imagine, however, that one X‘ -axis passes through each point of the X-axis. This means: we must imagine a plane in Minkowski space that is densely filled with X‘ -axes. Each of these comes from another time and is present simultaneously—even when an observer in S discerns just one point of each axis, namely the one point located on his own X-axis.
Balzac Coffee, Berlin / Materials: 10800 cm3 of brownies /
After arriving in Berlin in 2000, I began working at a bakery where I specialized in making brownies. At that time, I developed a system of cutting brownie sections in the baking pan that represented the proportions of a primitive hut in 1:50 scale.
I assembled the prototype only once in the bakery, later offering the pieces for sale.
Bausch & Lomb storage, Walldorf / Materials: six pallets of ninety-one boxes each; Lot N* 800523/547 /
Over the course of two workdays, I restacked 546 boxes of optical medical products from DIN pallets onto Euro pallets. The boxes were stacked according to a system similar to the distribution of housing units in high-rise apartment buildings, which allowed the same quantity of boxes to be stacked on the smaller Euro pallets, while making them more stable at the same time.
Two days later the Europe Towers were dispatched to Holland together with the rest of the stock.
Arbeitsamt Südwest, Berlin / Materials: one piece of furniture /
In a job-center in Berlin, a temporary ramp had been installed to transport files between the first floor and the basement. While waiting for a work permit, I moved part of the ramp to a corridor in the basement.
Sleeping Policeman and a Hole
US-military base, Heidelberg-Pfaffengrund / Materials: approx. 0.98 m3 earth /
Much has been written on the history of metaphors. Little is known about their materialization. There are objects in this world for which one prefers to use metaphors, since their true meaning extends beyond the functions or physical outline that they describe.
I dug a hole on the property of the US military airport in Heidelberg (Germany). The earth was placed on a bike path on German territory and served as a bump for reducing bicycle speed.
Fragile – handle with care / appropriation /
Covent Garden, London / Materials: nine cardboard boxes /
On the evening of February 21, 2004, nine cardboard boxes intended as improvised accommodations were set up in front of the Covent Garden Theater Museum in London. The morning after, the camera recorded how the homeless had appropriated the intervention.
A street artist performed a comedy in front of it.
Eixo Monumental Via N1 Oeste, Brasilia, Brazil / Materials: forty-eight meters of rope + one sign
* to move, relocation; change
(Luis Inacio “Lula” da Silva in his first official speech as president of Brazil on January 1, 2003.)
Farmers belonging to the Movimento sem Terra (Movement of Landless People) of Brazil took over state land on April 22 in the satellite city of São Sebastião, near the capital city of Brasilia. By the time I arrived, people were already demarcating property lines and clearing the lots.
Take your Time
Long Tsai Tsuen, Hung Shing Yeng, Lamma Island, Hong Kong / Materials: six dustbins
Lü Dong Bin, one of eight immortal Taoists, is believed to have lived during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). One time while traveling, as he waited for his porridge in an inn, he fell asleep and saw his future life before him. When Lü Dong Bin awoke, eighteen years had past and he decided to live as a hermit.
Fox fur / donation /
Museum of Natural History, Berlin / Materials: one fox fur
On March 11, 2000, I bought a fox fur. I kept it and took care of it in my apartment.
On July 1, 2001, I donated the fur to the Museum of Natural History, Berlin.
The museum administration was not interested in keeping the specimen.
Tieckstrasse 5, Berlin / Materials: three plastic chests + three wooden chests /
According to Jorge Luis Borges (in his story Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius), certain objects exist in the utopian land of Tlön that are merely projections of human will. For example, if somebody has lost a jewel box and several people go searching for it, it is possible that each person will find the box, but in different places. This implies a multiplication of the object. Such multiplied objects are called hrönirs and are characterized by a peculiar, barely noticeable deformation that distinguishes them from the original. If a hrönir is lost, and its duplicate then found, one will notice an even stronger transformation due to the function of human memory. Such objects are called hröns.
One could hypothesize that the entire variety of objects that make up our cosmos come from ONE original object that has been modified and multiplied by the projection of human will throughout the centuries.
Hagar Qim Temple, Malta / Materials: one rope + two racks /
On the island of Malta, a rope and two racks were placed in front of the archeological site of Hagar Qim. These framed two stones coincidentally situated in front of the temple entrance.
St. Clement Danes, Central Church of the Royal Air Force, London / Materials: one carpet /
In Whitechapel, London, I bought an oriental carpet in an Arabian bazaar.
Lost in the labyrinth of the city, I embarked on a pilgrimage for hours in the opposite direction of Mecca, finally placing the carpet at the St. Clement Danes, Central Church of the Royal Air Force.
Bastón / donation /
Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin / Materials: one walking stick /
On January 21, 1999, I bought a walking stick and carried it around with me for some time.
Years later, I donated the walking stick to the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum of Contemporary Art, Berlin.
The museum administration was not interested in keeping the exhibit.
Volkshochschule Mitte, Berlin / Materials: ten tables /
Since Pyrrho claimed there is no truth to the reality of sensorial things, the legend circulated that he would not avoid things standing in his way or horses or wagons approaching him, or he would even walk into walls in the conviction there is nothing consistent about sensorial perceptions. Only his friends, it is said, prevented and saved him from all sorts of foolhardy collisions.