Located on the Baltic Coast, Kaliningrad
is an ‘exclave’ of
Russia that has shifted from Lithuanian, Polish, Teutonic, Prussian,
German, Soviet, and Russian hands. Although much of the city was destroyed
in World War II, some architectural remnants such as castles, forts,
and ramparts dot the city. One can imagine that through the same sets
of doors walked a succession of surrendering and victorious parties.
One of these sites is the Kronprinz Tower, an empty barrack located
in the center of Kaliningrad whose surrounding buildings are used
as a school, an office park, a gymnasium, and more. Those passing
by the doors to the monolithic structure always want to see its interior,
which has been closed off to the public for many years.
Responding to this context, “The
a one-night installation that examines the nature of thresholds—portals,
boundaries, as well as the spaces they mark before and behind. As
the viewer-participant enters the installation through the tower’s
door, he/she encounters a sequence of intimate spaces whose doors
lead the viewer towards an indeterminate and much-anticipated end.
Like a Russian matrushka doll, each successive space becomes smaller
and smaller. To reach the final chamber the viewer is forced to crawl,
kneel, and bow. Upon peering into the installation’s final
chamber which itself cannot actually be entered, the viewer hears
a playful a capella (click
to hear sample). The viewer also catches
partial glimpse of the tower’s interior: the magenta-colored
carpet lining the installation extends past this final chamber into
the tower but its ending point is obscured by fog and light. To leave
the installation, the viewer must turn around and exit through the
doors he/she originally passed through.
The title of the piece is suggested by stories of humans ingested
by or haunted by whales such as the biblical story of Jonah and The
Whale and Herman Melville’s ‘Moby Dick’ (whose
alternate title is ‘The Whale’). In each, the human protagonist,
confronted by a beast of unfathomably large proportions, undergoes
an existential or spiritual experience in which a comparison of scale
prompts reflection on mortality and one’s place in the world.
|Front of the Kronprinz Tower
||original doors of the Kronprinz Tower