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For six weeks Frank Raendchen has been working on what well could be the world’s longest oriental carpet made from stone.

Now - it can be seen in the HafenCity of Hamburg.

Sculptors, illustrators, students, urban sociologists, and photographers were all squatting on the ground like beetles with angled arms and legs, their heads bent down while mixing 1,5 tons of coloured stone granulate with synthetic resin in cups holding 500 grams each, and pressing the unwieldy matter accurately into positioning devices, always smoothing it out to avoid bumps and dents. The structure had to turn out tight and dense so that later no stiletto will get stuck between the pebbles – it has been both hard work and made-to-measure.The sculptor from Hamburg and his motley team worked over six weeks from dawn until dusk in a very concentrated manner on the stone oriental carpet now adorning the Wilhelminen Bruecke in the Hafencity. Numerous positioning devices had been scattered over 67 square metres to be gathered with agile hands before they were cleaned, oiled, and serving as placeholders for the actual pebbles. With the official opening approaching at a rapid speed, patience, although necessary, became a scarce resource since the crafters could only measure progress centimetre by centimetre. Consequently, the atmosphere grew tense sometimes as the smearing up and inserting never seemed to be done fast enough. People could be overheard groaning with joint pains or cracking jokes about wear and tear while they were tending to themselves with Vaseline in order not to become a solidified object of synthetic resin themselves. Few and far between also some cursing were uttered, usually when someone had stepped carelessly into someone else’s completed piece of work. Meanwhile boats were crossing under the bridge all day. The guides were feeding the tourists their version of the Speicherstadt, or storage city district, fractions of which were heard in the building tent: „If the light goes on over there, a virgin is crossing the bridge“, „…Speicherstadt opened in 1888…“, „…the world’s biggest storage for oriental carpets…“. Now the Speicherstadt was receiving a carpet that didn’t come across the ocean and that would not end up in some living room. This idea had come to Frank Raendchen already three years ago and he put 70 Euros rent for a persian rug that should serve as a model on the table in the Speicherstadt. With the assistance of landscape architect Silke van Ackeren from Stralsund he emulated a stone version of this rug, which, as every handmade piece is not completely free of tiny flaws. An unicum. Guaranteed.


About the project idea: A stone oriental carpet for the Hafencity with a convenient triple value: Object of art, object of value with great practical value, and a visual connector between Hafencity and city centre. Hamburg is known as the world’s largest trading point for oriental carpets with an annual turnover of 3.6 million square metres of hand woven carpets. By temporary intervening with the consisting urban landscape of the Hafencity, I am not only turning the inside out, but also openly showing what is and has been lying in the surrounding storages by the millions. But the effect of publicly displaying an object that normally belongs indoors goes beyond that: The port of Hamburg is known as the „gateway to the world“ through which goods are imported and exported, including those we use to furnish our homes with. On many a precious rug plans were made that lead to commercial and political success. Furthermore the oriental rug next to its economical importance and its decorative value still possesses some of the magical allurement of the great wide world. Although originally made for personal use, in the past oriental rugs were used as tent hangings, warmth dispensers, tables, accommodation or even as means of transportation in the form of saddlebags. This very day they serve as symbols for the Garden of Eden when used as prayer-rugs. The technique of carpet knotting was known as early as in the 5th Century B.C., which has been proven by the finding of the uncommonly well-preserved Pazyrik-Rug in the Siberian Altai Mountains. The image of a flying carpet has been and is still inspiring children to dream of travels into a world full of amazing miracles.

Frank Raendchen was born in Stralsund in 1962. After passing his final secondary-school examinations he received vocational training as a dental technician and a stonemason before moving to Kiel in May 1989. He then studied sculpture at the Muthesius Kunsthochschule (Kiel) and the San Jose State University in California, USA. He is currently living in Hamburg and working project-orientated on location. In connection with his projects he has been working in Egypt, Australia, Macedonia, Denmark, Italy, Finland, Sweden, Norway, the Baltic States, and Austria. In the summer of 2006 he will commemorate his tenth studio anniversary by opening an exhibition series in the Kulturkirche at his hometown Stralsund. Quite similar to the installation he put up at the water tower at Eutin in 1997, he projects to construct an installation from four tons of foundlings and „floating“ potatoes as fluxusperformance surrounding the old organ stalls. Exhibitions will follow at: Rostocker Stadtgalerie, schleswig-holsteinischem Kunstverein Trittauer Wassermuehle, Stadtgalerie Brunsbuettel, Galerie Ruth Sachse, Hamburg.

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