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Lingen
1987
Glass, felt and wood
Dimensions: 145 x 279 x 26.5 cm
Reference: ACF0333
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Like many works by Reinhard Mucha, Lingen is a sculpture which hangs from the wall rather than standing on the floor. It consists of two elements placed at the same height and almost touching. The one on the left is a plywood box about forty centimetres deep. On the outside there is a filing cabinet of the kind that leaves the backs of all the files in view. The cabinet has been turned round ninety degrees in relation to its normal position. On the upper part we can see a long list of cities arranged in groups of two; on the sides we can read the names of the twelve months of the year in German. The box is covered with a sheet of glass on which he has drawn two lines that link one of the groups of cities (Mamosnnan Huckingen) with one of the months (January). The element on the right—which is much broader, though the same height as the other—is completely covered in felt. On the side where the two elements meet there is a component coated in the same material, slightly curved on the side in view. The rest is covered by a large sheet of glass. In the instructions for the work, which are not on show, it states that the glass must reflect everything in front of it. The title of the piece comes from the German city of the same name in the north-east of the country, close to the border with the Netherlands. Mucha’s works do not lend themselves to any instant decoding. He plays with many elements of German culture, and one of the leading art critics in the country, Doris von Drathen, has pointed out the difficulties any foreigner faces in understanding his work. In any case, the elements for a proper analysis of his creations are to be found in the piece itself, in the title, and above all in his earlier works. In 1982 he produced a piece entitled Wartesaal. The installation, which took up an entire room, consisted of mobile metal shelves on which he placed fragments of wood with the names of two hundred and forty-two cities, which he had taken from a German railway guide. The peculiarity of the list is that all the names have six letters; the origin of his interest in Lingen is to be found in this work. Since the beginning he has used themes connected with the railway and the physical elements that make up its environment in his work: the furnishings of the stations, the mechanisms used for regulating the movement of trains. The railway has a very special meaning in Germany, a country whose territory is criss-crossed by countless railway lines. In the Second World War trains were used for infamous purposes such as transporting troops and moving victims to concentration camps for extermination. However, decades later they were promoted as a cheap, environmentally friendly form of transport. In short, the railway becomes a parable for German contradictions and dilemmas. Interpretations of Lingen thus remain open, but Mucha points us in several particular directions. It is obvious that the two lines that link the cities with the month of January point to an autobiographical event that we cannot find out about. However, by including the large sheet of glass that reflects our image, the author seeks to involve us, conveying the idea that the work is not concerned with the artist but with the viewer.

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