Jeppe Hein

Invisible Moving Wall

2001

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Not on display
Artist
Jeppe Hein born 1974
Medium
Metal frames, fibreboard panels, motor, 2 car batteries, wheels and other materials
Dimensions
Overall display dimensions variable
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 2008
Reference
T12757

Summary

This installation consists of a free-standing structure measuring three metres in height and almost seven metres in length. Its shape, scale and off-white matt surface mean that it resembles a conventional gallery ‘fat wall’, which is a self-supporting, hollow wall used to divide different parts of an exhibition. The object fits into the architecture of the gallery to such an extent that it is, in effect, invisible, as the work’s title suggests. However, the wall is constantly in motion. Made of fibreboard mounted on a metal framework, the structure rests on wheels and incorporates a motor that drives it constantly sidewards back and forth along a straight course. The wall’s movement – at less than ten centimetres per minute – is so slow as to be almost imperceptible. Its effect is to surprise the visitor touring an exhibition, who returns to the gallery in which it is displayed to find the room has altered. As an object in constant motion, the work gently disrupts the space in which it is displayed, but without obviously revealing how this is done.

Invisible Moving Wall demonstrates Hein’s characteristic interests in fabrication and in installations that emphasise a state of interplay or collaboration with the spectator. Copenhagen-born Hein draws on minimalism and conceptualism in his work but uses humour to extend the possibilities of the minimalist aesthetic and dramatise, albeit playfully, the viewer’s role. In 2009, the artist commented: ‘Most important for me is the function of an artwork ... it should communicate with space and spectators, make people interact with the work and start a dialogue with each other’ (quoted in Jeppe Hein: Sense City, exhibition catalogue, Aarhus Kunstmuseum, 2009, p.141).

Whilst many of Hein’s interactive works are designed for outdoor locations, Invisible Moving Wall can be seen in relation to other of his installations that draw on the seemingly utilitarian architecture and furnishings of the art museum. It is specifically related to two earlier works: Moving Wall #1 2000, in which a concealed wall slides forward when activated by a sensor in a seat, hiding the seated viewer behind it, and Moving Walls 180° 2001, which produces new partitions within the gallery space as two free-standing walls positioned at right angles to one another move slowly forward and back (reproduced in Jeppe Hein Until Now, pp.84–5 and pp.98–101 respectively). In Moving Bench #2 2000, museum seating is programmed when sat upon to carry the visitor the length of the gallery space (reproduced in Jeppe Hein: Take a Walk Through the Forest at Sunlight, exhibition catalogue, Kunstverein Heilbronn, 2003, pp.56–9).

Invisible Moving Wall was followed in 2003 by Changing Space, in which a wall gradually moves across an otherwise empty gallery until the space is reduced to a width of two metres, forcing spectators to reposition themselves in order to avoid it (reproduced in Jeppe Hein: Sense City, pp.62–3). By playing with structures conventionally understood to be stationary and constraining, Hein seeks to destabilise the spectator’s perception, while producing a subtle critique of the conventionally static environments in which art objects are generally viewed.

This work was made in Hein’s studio in Berlin. It is from an edition of five.

Further reading:
Kirsty Bell, ‘In the Line of Fire’, Frieze, issue 81, March 2004, pp.88–91.
Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, ‘Transcendence and Immanence in Some Art of Today’, in Lisa Mark (ed.), Ecstasy: In and About Altered States, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles 2005, pp.139–151, reproduced p.85.
Jeppe Hein Until Now, London 2006, reproduced p.37, pp.106–7 and p.254.

Alice Sanger
November 2010

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