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Kapoor in Berlin pulls in the crowds

— August 2013

Associated media

Anish Kapoor,  Untitled (2013). Wax, oil based paint and steel 
Installation view: Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev, 2010. 
Photo: Markus Tretter 

© Anish Kapoor / VG Bildkunst, Bonn, 2013

Berlin’s Martin Gropius Bau is built on a site straddling the line of the now-demolished Berlin Wall, a little of which remains further along the street. Mounting the main staircase, one is flanked by two large mirrors, one marked ‘ost’ (east) and the other ‘west’ (west), a reminder that one is occupying what would have been an impossible space between 13 August 1961 and 9 November 1989, the period for which the wall separated the two Germanies.

In a large central atrium, a large red disk is held aloft on triangular, scaffolding-like supports. Around it on the floor are what look like half-melted, half-broken gobbets of the reddish wax that visitors to London’s Royal Academy (RA) in 2009 will recall from the massive work Svayambh and others shown at Kapoor’s exhibition there.

This feature – or ‘sun’ – is surrounded by several large conveyor belts angled upwards on stands. Some emerge from the walls, one from a pit in the floor. Periodically, a gobbet of wax is loaded on to one of these belts by unseen hands or mechanisms and travels slowly upwards. Falling over the end of the belt, it noisily joins its predecessors on the increasingly messy floor below. This is Kapoor’s Symphony for a Beloved  Sun (2013). The slow movement of each wax gobbet creates a sense of suspense. Spectators become hushed as a gobbet approached the top of its belt. Once it has fallen there is a sudden burst of conversation, laughter and general noise as it seems that the moment everyone awaited as happened and passed by. Then people disperse – it will be a long wait for the next one.

We are all very familiar with the sense of suspense engendered by thrillers and crime series, films and books – but how easily we are all manipulated into feeling suspense here...

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