Catalogue: Rudolf Stingel
The Tyrolean-born artist Rudolf Stingel has designed an installation especially for the Neue Nationalgalerie which takes the architecture of Mies van der Rohe as its point of departure and transforms the iconic buildings character with imposing results.
A giant carpet has been laid out on the surface of the floor in the gallerys large glass hall, whose pattern, dating back to an original 19th century Indian Agra rug, has been transposed into tones of black, white and grey. The powerful, graphic pattern and sensual opulence of the carpet stands in direct contrast with the austerity and formal reduction of the architecture. Much has been made of the sacredness of van der Rohes construction, something now seen in an entirely new light with the addition of the Indian-Persian influence. The result is the modern temple loses something of its abstract severity. It continues to be a sacred site however - one with marked oriental overtones.
A magnificent crystal chandelier hovers in the air above the carpet, reminiscent of places of great pomp and ceremony, and simultaneously serves to anchor the installation in an inextricably European context. After all, far from being entirely foreign, Indian and Persian carpets are a part of European cultural history, found among various other kinds of orientalia in the lounges and salons of the upper middle-classes, where, in the words of Rudolf Stingel himself, they can be seen as the expression of a tempered yearning for the other.
Thomas Demand, Nationalgalerie, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany