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Art at Zollverein

Lasting impressions

The World Heritage Site as a place of inspiration for artists and their works

The unique industrial architecture und living history of the Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage Site fascinates artists from all over the world. When taking a walk on the grounds, visitors come across sculptures and installations by artists, for whom the Zollverein World Heritage Site with its industrial past serves as a varied source of inspiration. Some of the artworks cannot be missed due to their massive presence, like Ulrich Rückriem’s granite sculptures. Others are discovered rather incidentally, for example Alf Lechner’s “Konstellation D4”, the works of art by steel sculptor Ansgar Nierhoff, or the “Palace of Projects” by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov in the former Salt Store.

The diverse artistic works which increasingly characterise Zollverein as an art venue have one thing in common: they are engaged in an aesthetic dialogue with the terrain and the architecture of the disused coal mine and coking plant. For example, they broach the theme of the effect of spaces or deal with the change of the location from a heavy industry site towards a centre for art, culture, history, and the creative industry.

Today, visitors to Zollverein discover more than just artworks in the public spaces. Several times a year, the former coal mine and coking plant is a venue for innovative art productions. In 2012, for example, Scottish video artist Douglas Gordon opened the Ruhrtriennale with an impressive installation in the Mixing Plant. On the occasion of the annual international art festival in 2014, “Urbane Künste Ruhr” installed the monumental sculpture “Tower”, a huge structure made of water, in the proximity of the pit-head frame, which attracted visitors from near and far.

Additionally, contemporary art exhibitions take place on the site at regular intervals. The art fair “contemporary art ruhr” (C.A.R.) has presented young talents and international galleries at the World Heritage Site twice a year since 2006. Several artists have opened their own studio or workshop at Zollverein.

A selection of the most important artists and artworks on the World Heritage Site is presented below.

The Palace of Projects

Installation by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov

The “Palace of Projects”, immersed in warm yellow light, is a place full of ideas. Since 2001, the accessible installation in the Salt Store at the Zollverein Coking Plant presents 61 fictitious projects which all aim at improving people’s life in an unusual way.

With the “Palace of Projects” the Russian-American artist couple Ilya and Emilia Kabakov created a “total installation”: when walking through the seven-metre high pavilion reminiscent of a snail’s shell, the visitor moves along very different objects, showcases, and sketches. One can examine the individual models in several rooms, touch some of them, and read the model description, while time seems to be standing still for a short moment.

The projects presented in the “Palace of Projects” play with the notion of utopia in various ways: they are full of fantasy and remarkable ideas, regardless of how naive or infeasible they might seem at first glance. They turn the installation into a museum of dreams, which invites to embark on a journey to foreign worlds of thought and inspires personal creativity.

“The Palace of Projects” is a permanent loan from Stiftung Industriedenkmalpflege und Geschichtskultur.

Opening hours
Fri–Sun and on public holidays 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

Admission
4 € [reduced 3 €], free for children under the age of 12

Location
The Palace of Projects
Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage Site
Areal C [Coking Plant Zollverein], Salt Store
Heinrich-Imig-Straße
45141 Essen

Contact
Phone +49 201 246810
Email info@zollverein.de

Works Swimming Pool

More information

Installation by Dirk Paschke and Daniel Milohnic

seasonal / summer
Where coal was once refined into coke, a glistening blue swimming pool is now a summertime meeting point in the North of Essen. The “Werksschwimmbad” (Works Swimming Pool), consisting of two welded overseas containers, invites to relax and take a swim in the middle of the impressive facilities of the former coking plant.

Frankfurt-based artists Dirk Paschke and Daniel Milohnic constructed the “Werksschwimmbad” in 2001 in the scope of the “Zeitgenössische Kunst und Kritik” art project. Ever since, the pool has allegorically represented the structural change in the Ruhr area. With their “social sculpture” the artists gave this place, which was until the 1990s only characterised by work amid deafening noise and heat, a completely new function: Today, residents and visitors go there to spend their leisure time and enjoy the welcome cooling down on hot summer’s days.

Opening hours
During summer holidays (NRW) daily 12.00 p.m.–8.00 p.m.
closed in bad weather

Admission
free

Location
Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage Site
Area C [Coking Plant], Works Swimming Pool [C75]
Arendahls Wiese
45141 Essen

Contact
Phone +49 201 246810
Email info@zollverein.de

LA PRIMAVERA

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Installation by Maria Nordman

It is the light which awakens nature from hibernation in spring and plays an important part in Maria Nordman’s art. Her work entitled “LA PRIMAVERA” (“spring”) in the tower passageway of the former Boiler Ash Bunker is an art location providing an intensive self-experience.

Only a narrow slit allows daylight to enter the accessible artwork, which each visitor enters individually. On one’s own in space and time, people find themselves, depending on the weather and altitude of the sun, in a place which is exceptional in a different way each time: in a room, which only turns into an artwork the moment the visitor enters it and lets himself in for the silence and seclusion. The open space around the Boiler Ash Bunker is part of the artwork: ginkgo and sequoia, which ages and ages ago turned into coal, are planted behind the bunker. Maria Nordman, who participated in “documenta” three times, is interested in cycles, rituals, and gardens.

In a small vestibule of the installation, visitors therefore find utensils such as blankets, chairs, and a table, which they can use for a joint picnic in the garden of “LA PRIMAVERA”.

Opening hours
April–September, Fri–Sun, and on public holidays 11 a.m.–6 p.m.

Admission
free

Location
Artwork LA PRIMAVERA
Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage Site
Area A [Shaft XII], Boiler Ash Bunker [A13]
Gelsenkirchener Straße 181
45309 Essen

Contact
Phone +49 201 246810
Email info@zollverein.de

Forest of Sculptures

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Granite sculptures by Ulrich Rückriem

The birch-covered slag heap located between Zollverein Shaft XII and the Zollverein Coking Plant is an almost magical place. Five stone sculptures by sculptor Ulrich Rückriem come upon the unique industrial nature, footpaths branching off, and the past of the steel and coal industry.

The main work of the so-called Forest of Sculptures is the “Castell”, an about two-metre tall and 10×10-metre wide split stone block standing on a clearing. Four openings between the massive stone blocks grant the visitors access to the centre of the artwork. Once the visitor has arrived there, an unusual perspective opens up: people finds themselves in an interior which is due to the unobstructed view to the horizon simultaneously an outdoor space.

When subsequently taking a walk around the slag heap, the visitor comes across other sculptures by Rückriem: one at the stairs to the upper part of the slag heap, two sculptures with the title “Granit Bleu de Vire, gespalten und geschnitten” on the way towards the highest point of the slag heap, and a square granite block at the end of the footpath. Although Rückriem’s works are geometrical, a slight movement can be discerned in the powerful sculptures. They thus remind of the Zollverein location in several ways: as a contrast to unspoilt nature, as symbol for change, and as expression of the hard physical work which once took centre stage at Zollverein.

Opening hours
daily 

Admission
free

Location
Forest of Sculptures
Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage Site
Between Area A [Shaft XII] an Area C [Coking Plant]

Contact
Phone +49 201 246810
Email info@zollverein.de

Monochromatic Red and Blue

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Light Installation by Jonathan Speirs and Mark Major

Every night since 1999, the Zollverein Coking Plant has turned into a huge artwork when at the beginning of dusk the light installation “Monochromatic Red and Blue” immerses parts of the decommissioned facilities in red and blue light.

In the dark, the 600-metre long coke oven battery on the so-called “black” side of the coking plant shines in red light. The colour reminds of the great heat in the ovens, in which coke was produced from coal at more than 1,000 degrees Celsius when the plant was still in operation. The “Kokereiallee” separates this side from the “white” side, where chemical by-products, a result of carbonization, were processed. Lanterns line the street and bathe it in blue light, which takes reference from the water that was used to quench the coke.

With their installation, the two British lighting designers, Jonathan Speirs and Mark Major, impressively stage the imposing architecture of the Zollverein Coking Plant. At the same time, they visualise the change of the facility towards a location for art, culture, and leisure. The former pusher machine railway line, which is now filled with water, is integrated as a reflective design element.

Opening hours
daily, when darkness falls

Admission
free

Location
Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage Site
Area C [Coking Plant]
Kokereiallee
45141 Essen

Contact
Phone +49 201 246810
Email info@zollverein.de

Art Shaft Zollverein

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Thomas Rother

Thomas Rother is an author, sculptor, creator of objects, and spatial artist. Since 1990 he lives and works in the former carpentry workshop at Shaft 1/2/8.

Rother’s workshop is a fascinating microcosm where everything revolves around the heritage of the mining era: The artist works with, amongst other things, industrial materials such as dust, ash, and coal and uses tools and other mining objects as printing blocks for prints on paper and canvas.

Opening hours
Sat and Sun 11 a.m.–1 p.m. and 3 p.m.–5 p.m. and by appointment

Admission
2.50 €

Location
Art Shaft Zollverein
Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage Site
Area B [Shaft 1/2/8], Art Shaft Zollverein [B43]
Bullmannaue 21
45327 Essen

Contact
phone +49 201 304881

Margaretenhöhe Ceramic Workshop

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Young-Jae Lee

Shortly after the decommissioning of the Zollverein Coal Mine, ceramist Young-Jae Lee and her team were the first artists to establish a studio at the Zollverein World Heritage Site in 1987.

Back in 1933, the “Keramische Werkstatt Margaretenhöhe” (Margaretenhöhe Ceramic Workshop) already moved from the Margarethenhöhe Estate to the Zollverein Shaft Facilities 6/9. About 50 years later, this was followed by the move to the former Building Materials Stores at Shaft 1/2/8. Lee, who was born in Korea, has directed the workshop since.

The delicate jugs, bowls, or pots, which are created by hand at Zollverein, follow a clear, timeless, and unmistakable design vocabulary. Individual items by the internationally acknowledged and repeatedly awarded master ceramist are coveted among collectors from all over the world.

Opening hours
Mon-Fri, 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Sat, 11 a.m.– 3 p.m., and by appointment

Admission
free

Location
Margaretenhöhe Ceramic Workshop
Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage Site
Area B [Shaft 1/2/8], Building Material Stores [B52]
Bullmannaue 19
45327 Essen

Contact
Phone +49 201 305080
Email kontakt@kwm192

More information at www.kwm-1924.de.

ARKA Culture Workshop

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Atelier, exhibitions and workshops

Derived from the Latin term for “ark”, the “ARKA Kulturwerkstatt” in Hall 12 has been an atelier for people with an interest in art for many years. In the arts and crafts rooms, several fine artists offer courses, workshops as well as holiday academies on a voluntary basis.

At the “Kulturwerkstatt”, participants can try out and practice almost all artistic techniques: from sketching, etching, bookbinding or sculptural design, painting in watercolours and oil to photography. Furthermore, artists, most of them coming from the region, regularly exhibit their artworks at the ARKA premises.

Opening hours
Thu, Sat and Sun 2 p.m.–4 p.m., Fri 11 a.m.–1 p-m.
during school holidays in NRW only by appointment

Admission/Participation
depending on the event

Location
ARKA Kulturwerkstatt
Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage Site
Area A [Shaft XII], Hall 12 [A12]
Gelsenkirchener Straße 181
45309 Essen

Contact
Phone +49 201 306140
Email arka.essen@vodafone.de

More information at www.arka-kulturwerkstatt.de.

Workshop Atelier Thomas Mack

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Atelier, workshop and showroom

Thomas Mack’s Atelier in the former Picking Belt Hall is both a workshop and a showroom. Since 2001, the freelance artist has been creating etchings, drawings, and prints there. He also exhibits paintings in his atelier.

Mack preferably works with heavy handmade paper and vibrant colours. The architecture of Zollverein with its symmetric shapes has again and again served as his source of inspiration.

Opening hours
Sat and Sun 1 p.m.–6 p.m.
and by appointment

Admission
free

Location
Workshop Atelier Thomas Mack
Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage Site
Area A [Shaft XII], Hall 12 [A12]
Gelsenkirchener Straße 181
45309 Essen

Contact
Phone +49 162 432 96 56
Email thomasmack@nexgo.de

More information at www.handgedruckt.de.
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