Schmidtsche Schack Factory percussion ensemble, Kassel, Germany
HEAVY METAL – blurring a line between work and play – making the factory-floor dance!
A collaboration with the factory workers of Schmidtsche Schack (Arvos Group) – a heavy-steel manufacturing site located on the outskirts of Kassel,Germany.
The project is one of 14 art & industry collaborations invited for Werk/Kunst/Werk, an exhibition to celebrate 125 years of the Metal & Electrics Industry in Nordhessen, held in the Kulturbahnhof, Kassel, July 1 - 23rd 2015.
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 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 cropping 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 repetition and the uniformity of production were subverted by a performance more animated and eventful than the usual.
So when Jürgen Olbrich invited me to participate in Kunst-Werk-Kunst, and later to visit the Schmidtsche Schack factory site for a tour, this memory was far from my mind, but as I mulled on 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 driving idea.
Thanks to the open-minded management of Schmidtsche Schack the project was realised in the factory during a week in April, edited in NZ May/June and launched in Werk/Kunst/Werk on July 1, 2015
Thanks to the participants; 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 installation welding screens & sonic objects. To Marcelina Bugaj (interpreter) for her energetic enthusiasm, to factory management; Director Karsten Stückrath, Margareta Schmitt & Wolfgang Klecker (Marketing), to curator Jurgen Olbrich, to exhibition facilitator Achim Schnyder and to my wife Camilla.