Kreuzweg (Way of the Cross) is a dark black passageway in the shape of a cross. The cross-shaped structure has four openings, one in each of its ends, through which the viewer can enter and exit. The shape of the cross is fully obtainable only from an aerial, God-like point of view. Upon entering the passageway, the viewer loses the formal contour of the structure, as the contour of his/her own body becomes blurred, melting into the indefinite blackness surrounding it, in which the distinction between one’s own outer/physical and inner/psychological space is no longer clear.
Obviously, Kreuzweg bears a direct reference to the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Rather than merely formal or iconographic, the reference to the Crucifixion is also experiential. Kreuzweg stages a theatrical rite of passage, a liminal scenography that strips viewing subjects walking through the passageway of their identities and everyday concepts of time and place, after which they are born again, reemerging into a world of a higher order juxtaposing terminality with resurrection.
Kreuzweg is the current culmination of the redemptive theological thread that runs through Schneider’s oeuvre. It is the explicit conclusion of many earlier works. One example of which is CUBE (2005-07). Schneider’s CUBE is a gigantic cubic outdoor structure covered in black cloth, seemingly replicating Islam’s holy edifice of the Kaaba. Formally, a flattened cube results in a cross. In this sense, Kreuzweg is the spatialization of CUBE after it was flattened. The geometrical link between the two works enables Schneider to incorporate CUBE’s scenario of circumambulating a black void into the immersive walked-through black void of Kreuzweg.
… In 2008 CUBE became END: a sixty-six-meter-long dark passageway which Schneider constructed outside Abteiberg Museum in Mönchengladbach. To enter the dark passageway, the viewer had to climb a small ladder and pass through a black square opening. At the end of the passageway, along which one’s own orientation and bodily integrity were being shaken, was a shaft leading the viewer to an underground dark space. The sole way out of the dark underground space was an elevator which carried the viewer to the museum’s illuminated collection galleries on the second floor, as if launching him or her from the domain of black death into the white territory of life after death.
Schneider’s interest in the hereafter can also be traced in his Cryo-Tank Phoenix (2006). A sealed cylindrical tank made of electro-polished stainless steel Cryo-Tank Phoenix was first presented on 02.11.06–the Christian Day of the Dead–at St Peter’s Church, Cologne. Its initial religious backdrop established a fundamental connection between the cryonic vision of preserving dead bodies in low temperature until wishful revivification, the story of Christ’s resurrection, and the anticipated event of his Second Coming. It marked the appearance of Cryo-Tank Phoenix in affinity to the apocalyptic-eschatological circumstances of the hereafter, turning every site in which it emerges into an intermediary zone situated between life and death, between this world and the world to come.
An excerpt from “Gregor Schneider and the Architecture of the Afterlife,” a text by Ory Dessau.
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