Franka Hörnschemeyer’s main subject is space. No one has yet come up with an exhaustive definition of space, and Hörnschemeyer’s concept of space is equally multifarious. Her work is about spaces in the sense of volumes, rooms, buildings as well as historical and perceptual spaces, and can also include sounds, which can define spaces in just the same way as the qualities of their building materials do. Usually all of these aspects are combined and interrelated.

BFD – bündig fluchtend dicht, 2001. Formwork units, 3,90 x 14,60 x 17,20 m, Paul-Löbe-Haus, Deutscher Bundestag, Photo: Stephan Erfurt

Thus, in the courtyard of an office building belonging to the German parliament, the Bundestag, the artist combined a former dog pound of a nearby building formerly used by GDR border guards with particular rooms from the Bundestag building, bringing the two together in a construction built from moulds for casting concrete. This iron grid-work was originally used for casting the walls of the politicians’ offices. Thus current spaces are confronted with past ones, vanished and invisible spaces made experienceable and readable in the artistic construction.

Plan of Konditional, side specific installation for Ideal City - Invisible Cities, Zamość, 2006. [photos of the installation]

The map and the layout of the ideal city Zamość have provided the historical and real reference point for Franka Hörnschemeyer’s contribution to Ideal City – Invisible Cities. The street-grid created by the Italian architect Bernardo Morando at the end of the 16th century returns as a walkway made of twelve cruciform door elements, through whose movable flaps it is possible for visitors to force their way. Orientation in between the doors, each taller than a human being, is deliberately made difficult; it is only possible to traverse and gauge the space, which covers a 36 square meter area, from within the passages, using one’s own body. The title, Konditional, relates to grammar (if…, then,…) as well as to formal logic (A as an adequate condition for B). At the same time Hörnschemeyer’s title provides a general commentary on the ideal city Zamość. The original ideal of a fortified city has become conditional. The (city) space has been blocked; its street grid offers resistance to uninhibited movement. It is only with movement however that the possibilities of the space are opened up. In Konditional Franka Hörnschemeyer has constructed a parable, not just for planned cities and ideal plans. She has also revealed the prerequisites for appropriating such a conditioned and determined space; personal initiative is required if we are to force our way through and open the space up for ourselves.

Ronald Berg

Relais, 2006. Formwork units, 6,5 x 6,5 x 2,5 m [further images of the work]

Side specific installation for Ideal City - Invisible Cities, Potsdam

Courtesy: Franka Hörnschemeyer & European Art Projects

With generous support of PASCHAL-Werk G. Maier GmbH

Photo: Krzysztof Zieliński