Artistic concept for the Rickmers shipping company building in Hamburg (2000-…)

The building by the architects Bothe Richter Teherani is almost austere in its use of materials and formal reduction. With its storey-wise glazed façade and the spacious entrance hall, it is a very public building that reveals situations to the outside world that usually have an almost private character. The overall artistic concept will be oriented to this specification by the architecture, support it and include human dimensions.

The concept includes four complementary artistic interventions:

I. The Seven Seas:


In the hall, on the wall behind the reception, there are seven screens in a row, each showing a filmic view of water and waves. The large-format flat-screens are embedded flat in the wall without framing and thus fit into the elegant and restrained aesthetics of the building. The individual films are colored monochrome and run in endless loops.

Images of water are both calm and moving. The apparent repetition of the eternally same wave movements and the similarity of the images on the seven monitors reinforce the impression of calm. Paradoxically, this calmness is also created by the constant movement of the water.

Water is a connecting element. The films shown are real films of water and the waves of the seven oceans (the northern and southern Atlantic, the northern and southern Pacific, the Indian Ocean, the Arctic and the Antarctic), which separate people on the different continents from each other and yet represent their only connection. In this installation, the films condense into a panorama that refers to the vastness of the world and the secrets that for many people are connected to the sea.

II. Murals

In the corridors and conference rooms of the house there are murals that continue the theme of the sea and seafaring. Each of these pictures consists of a photograph of a nautical detail placed next to a monochrome colour surface. The details are alienated and covered with a slight blurring. The colour surface refers to the painterly version of The Seven Seas in the entrance hall; its colour value comes from the colour spectrum of photography. The work deals with phenomena of perception, it offers optical riddles (what detail? where is the colour?) and thematically integrates the whole house.

III. Soundcollage

On their walks through the building, the employees and visitors of the building are also accompanied by sound installations. For this purpose, different sound fields are developed, which evoke concise atmospheric images from the world of seafaring imagination. These collages are artistic transformations of associations linked to the sea and the wind, but also to distant port cities. By no means are they superficial “nature radio plays”. Due to the elaborate technology, which triggers different sound tracks in the corridors of the building via motion detectors, the collages are always surprisingly redesigned, they are rich in variations, and in their tonal presence often unexpected, so that a monotony will not be established.

IV. Panoramas

On the individual floors, “slots” are milled into the masonry on the side facing the Speicherstadt, measuring approx. 500 x 80 cm.

Photographic panoramas in exactly this format are hung on the walls opposite these window cut-outs to convey the view from the ship to land.