Wege zur Behandlung von Schmerzen, 2011
Visitors are overpowered by the physical, visual and sonorous strength of this artwork, shaped like a giant metal tank into which a continuous jet of black-tinted water falls, producing an echo that bounces around inside the Navate space in Pirelli HangarBicocca.
The monumentality of this installation calls for a comparison with the other works on display, all of which are smaller in size, leading visitors to interact differently with this installation: the verticality of Wege zur Behandlung von Schmerzen induces them to lift their heads and look up, while the horizontality of Common Ground prompts them to lower the heads to look at the floor.
Presented in 2011 at the Four Domes Pavilion in Wroclaw during the European Culture Congress, Wege zur Behandlung von Schmerzen was conceived by the artist as an “anti-fountain”: the imposing structure and the black—and therefore potentially polluted—water represent a refusal of the idea of public space, where fountains are usually located, as a place for aggregation and celebration.
These characteristics subvert the image of the healing fountain as it is generally presented in literature. As Balka notes, «In most cultures, water from a fountain is also related to healing. In old tales young men leave the family house to search for water from magical wells to save their loved ones from illness and death.»
The German title—literally “Ways to Treat Pain”—reveals how the artist reflects further on this theme, connecting it to a collective memory of past pain that must be rendered evident if it is to be overcome.