Cologne, Thursday 15th. Cold wind. I leave the Chelsea Hotel where apparently, Martin Kippenberger & co used to go drinking in its bar. Nearly run over by a man in a suit on a bicycle. He seemed to think it was my fault and maybe he was right. “Curried sausage with french fries covered in mayonnaise” standing at a bar table in a small cafe – could only eat a quarter of it. The day is bright -clear blue sky... but the shadows do not lose their impenetrable blackness throughout the day mirrowing the blackened towering forms of the Dom as it reaches into the heavens. Early afternoon in Kolumba. I was somewhat sceptical before my visit (the initial hype) but was quite moved, especially in the space where the wooden walkway zigzags over the archaeological remains of the gothic church. The perforations in the exterior walls (distorting and fragmenting the internal and external sound in a beautiful way). A lot to reflect on – the dialogue with the art of the past, exhibiting contemporary art alongside other artefacts, all the problems this might embody, the building itself…how does one define it? It is not a conventional museum and in ways I have not yet assimilated it seems to be imbued with Catholicism: the almost fetishistic treatment of objects and details adhering to a certain idea of beauty. The question is, whether new unexpected meanings can be generated in these contexts and whether the divergence from conventional critical/historical presentations can throw new light on the nature of artefacts and their meanings. I accept the historical aspect of everything we do - but maybe what is most valuable about art is its non-historical qualities (not necessarily universal qualities)...those aspects which allow the work to have a different resonance at different times and places.
Peter Zumthor’s building itself does not leave one indifferent. Here are a few images I took, the perforations in the exterior walls, the zigzag walkway, a display of relics, shadows on the floor made by a display case and some trees in an exterior area: