Borderline Experience


Borderline Experience


Performative sculpture

Approx. 300 square tubes, polished stainless steel, 8 x 8cm, 0,3cm wall thickness, variable heights between 150 and 300cm, total area approx. 42m x 26m

Competition "Designs for an Immigration Monument", Ruhr Museum Essen on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the recruitment agreement between Germany and Turkey, 2021


If one enters the square Ehrenhof through the historic main entrance or during a tour of the grounds of Zeche Zollverein (former Coal Mine), one's gaze encounters an long drawn obstacle: Across the lawn parterre in the center of the square runs a swaying line made of a multitude of shimmering silver square bars. In an irregular round dance, they cross and cross over the listed lawn. They snake along the edges of the lawn, swing diagonally across the lawn, and shoot out across the stone-lined lawn at the front and back. No two bars are alike. They differ in lengths and positions and seem to circle invisible barriers on their way. As they do so, they tumble, tip to all sides, fall in rows, bump into each other, and right themselves again.

"Borderline Experience" is a built paradox: the artwork is border and border dissolution in one. It breaks down the boundaries of the listed order and turns the Ehrenhof into a border area by dividing and crossing it, while still being able to be circumnavigated. Demarcation and opening merge into one and the boundary line appears open and moving in itself through the manifold spatial positions, the brokenness of the lines and the light reflections and shadows that change with the course of the day. Almost like a dance across the lawn parterre. Viewed from above, from one of the numerous viewpoints of the Zeche Zollverein, the work finally resembles the meandering border lines between countries as they are drawn on maps.


"Borderline Experience" is performative reenactment of the experiences encountered before, with, during, and especially after the crossing of borders. The title and the work interpret both the concept of the border and the German metaphor of border experience that follows it, which is used for life situations in which people come up against their limits when they move into unknown territory or overcome existing barriers. Migration is necessarily linked to permanent border crossings and is always a personal borderline experience. The actual border crossing is the shortest part of the journey.

Migration experiences are ambivalent and complex, composed of experiences of departure, of opening, of exclusion, of demarcation, of wanted or rejected assimilation. This is true for the migrants, but to some extent also for the previously unquestioning and natural natives of a country, who are confronted with an unknown language, culture and religion by the newcomers. The mechanisms of segregation can be read in the history of immigration - and it is difficult to counteract them politically. For despite all political striving for equality and justice, these mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion are necessary for the survival of everyone. Delimitations will never become superfluous. But they become a problem when they are hermetic and fixed, when they do not allow for openings, transitions and adaptations.

If there is one thing that an immigration memorial in Germany should emphasize and make us vividly aware of, it would perhaps be this: Germany is not under monument protection. The country and its culture are not unlimited and unoccupied, of course, but they are open and adaptable nonetheless. With a view to a common future in a world marked by migration, "borderline experience" at the Zeche Zollverein monument could become a complex metaphor that can be experienced in an extremely sensual way: It reflects the need and necessity of limitation, it symbolizes demarcation as well as border dissolution, it is a fragile, open obstacle that challenges a constant change of perspective and movement of thought.


Translated with (free version)/uv