Zwillingstochter 1+2 (Twin Daughter 1+2), 2008. Silicone, clothing, and plastic bags, each unit: 20 x 60 x 112 cm. Photo: Jhoeko, © Gregor Schneider, Courtesy Gregor Schneider and West Den Haag

Gregor Schneider: A Sense of Distance

By the time Gregor Schneider was a teenager, he had already begun speculating about alienation and the place of death in life, as well as the deep-seated relationships between people and the spaces they inhabit. In Begraben (Buried, 1984), his first live action—documented in a photo series—he dug a deep hole in the ground, spent time curled up in it, and then replaced the excavated soil in its original place. The following year, when he was 16, his parents granted him access to the family’s former home in the town of Rheydt (now Mönchengladbach-Rheydt), Germany. There, he worked in isolation, constructing a series of rooms within rooms that grew to include undecorated shells, self-contained chambers, and corridors to nowhere. He called this project Haus u r (House u r, 1985–ongoing), the initials referring to the building’s location on Unterheydener Straße.

Schneider’s inward-growing architecture—a strange kind of doubling—creates an uncanny, walk-through form of sculpture . . .

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