Schmidtsche Schack Factory percussion ensemble, Kassel, Germany
HEAVY METAL was produced in collaboration with the factory workers of Schmidtsche Schack (Arvos Group), a heavy-steel factory located in Kassel, Germany. It's about blurring a line between work and play – about shifting the paradigm and making the factory-floor dance!
The project is one of 14 art & industry collaborations invited for an exhibition to celebrate 125 years of the Metal & Electrics Industry in Nordhessen.
Werk/Kunst/Werk Catalogue Text:
Many years ago as a student, I worked the summer night shift in Wattie’s food canning factory, some twelve miles from where I lived in Napier (NZ) traveling to and from work daily on a motorbike. The factory was a large sprawling plant located in the countryside, a flat farming landscape with mountains far off in the West that the sun dramatically set on each evening. A rural landscape, otherwise quiet but for the noisy rhythms of the factory’s machinery, processing every kind of seasonal crop; tomatoes, peas, apples, peaches, plums & pears, dicing and pulping them into tinned and bottled products of baby-food, soups, fruits and vegetables, a gumboots and gloves environment potent with smells, noise and rhythms that ran like clockwork 24 / 7 through the summer season.
Choreographing workers and machinery to perform like an orchestra crossed my mind at the time, particularly when the machines misbehaved and produced unexpected events . .a can–jam on the tomato line, an overflow of peas etc, a wake-up call where the repetition and uniformity of production was temporarily replaced by one of human interaction more animated even than in the canteen.
When Jürgen Olbrich invited me to participate in Kunst-Werk-Kunst and later, to visit Schmidtsche Schack for a factory tour, this memory was at first far from my mind, but as I mulled on sculptural and other possibilities, the idea of working together with the employees to create a little dada-mischief to convert their work place, temporarily, into a playground of percussion became the concept for the work. A proposal was therefore made to collaborate with the factory employees to produce a percussion ensemble, utilising the employees as the performers and the various metallic & sonic objects of the factory as instruments.
Thanks to the open-minded generosity of Schmidtsche Schack the concept was approved. The project was realised in the factory during April, edited in NZ during May/June and launched in Werk/Kunst/Werk on July 1, 2015
My thanks to the participating workers;
Sebastian Mann, Dennis Reuter, Ozan Ozger, Deniz Demirhan, Christian Seeland, Jens Schäfer, Benjamin Rudolph,
Christoph Krawietz, Andreas Wiederhold, David Patzer, Finn Schlichtherle, Ronny Stahn, Florian Ludwig,
& to Andreas Kühne (Foreman) for fabricating the installation.
To Marcelina Bugaj for her enthusiasm & brilliant interpreting skills. To the factory Director Karsten Stückrath, to Margareta Schmitt & Wolfgang Klecker for support and belief in the project, to curator Jurgen Olbrich, to Achim Schnyder and to my wife Camilla.