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And To Make You Toe The Line

grass, dirt, architecture
Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof, Hamburg 2012

Excerpt from 'Possessed to Repossess '
By Valerie Smith

"The lawn stretched before us makes us recall its own history: one of pure pleasure, sprung from medieval court landscape design, and that of symbolic luxury and power (think of the great lawns that stretch before the Reichstag and the US Capitol). So, perhaps it is not surprising that a grassy wall-to-wall carpet was the artist’s response to the memory of wealth and privilege once embodied by the First and Second Class Wartesaal. Yet, a Wartesaal is also a transitional space between here and there, between work and home. The green laid out in And to Make You Toe the Line, then, is precisely a preview of what 19th century travelers, waiting there among the exotica of palm frons sipping their Schildkrötensuppe, would have anticipated when, like clock work, they would disembark from their trains into the jungles of their ambitions or the affluent suburbs of their Hamburg homes. It is the suburbs to which we owe the popularization of sodding grass.

But any reverie about the lawn, while visually inspiring bucolic pastimes that adorn prosperity and leisure, is abruptly interrupted by the urgent sounds wafting in from the windows fixed wide open to the hustle and bustle of contemporary existence: massive train engines belch their energy and loud intercoms project departures and arrivals. The auditory bedlam of comings and goings, welcomes and farewells, unleash an uncontrolled humanity through the Wartesaal idyll. This gesture of just the open windows alone is reminiscent of Michael Asher’s work for the 13th floor of The Clocktower, New York in the spring of 1976. While other elements operate in Lohmüller’s work he follows Asher’s concept to blur the boundaries of indoors and outdoors, making the visitor acutely aware of the weather and their physical presence in the psychology of the space. Lohmüller produces another guard against complacency in his constructed paradise through the projection of an enormous dog baring fangs in the Speakers’ Corner, a darken side room off the Wartesaal. Could the threatening dog be Lohmüller’s particularly violent substitution of Manet’s irreverent nude in Déjeuner sur L’Herbe? Both artists break with the history of Arcadia by inserting a cunning embodiment of contemporary urban reality. The dog and the nude meet the viewer with a self-conscious presence that is both alien and integral to their context. So, as we linger within this false hortus conclus, we are made to feel uneasy by a sharp sense of insurrection."

Press Text - Isabelle Busch & Franziska Solte

Seen in a long shot, the exhibition space has a precise structure: The green floor, the white walls and the brown wooden ceiling create a clear triad. But the further we step into the room, the more our contemplative viewing is intensified by the circulating air, the noise of the train station’s daily routines and the movement of the trains. For his installation 'And To Make You Toe The Line' at the Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof, in the former waiting room for first and second class travellers, Adrian Lohmüller establishes an extensive, artificial space that is both open and refers to its own limits. We are reminded of parks laid out in urban space as consciously constructed and geometrically structured open spaces. 'And To Make You Toe The Line' signifies the imperative of moving along a line, or stepping up to it. As such, it means being directed down a certain path and adapting oneself.