Ambitious Christoph Büchel Project Goes Off the Rails at Düsseldorf’s K21 Museum

There was to be a supermarket and sleeping quarters.

K21. Photo Jaime Silva, via Flickr.
K21. Photo Jaime Silva, via Flickr.

A project by Swiss artist Christoph Büchel, known for installations for which the word “ambitious” can be an understatement, has run aground at the last minute at a German museum.

Düsseldorf’s Kunstsammlung Nordrhein Westfalen was set to host a supermarket and sleeping quarters for visitors as part of a Büchel installation, but the museum tells Die Welt that the project, which was to open September 9, has been canceled by mutual agreement with the artist. Curator Susanne Meyer-Büser tells the German newspaper the installation had gotten too unwieldy for everyone involved.

“Büchel’s ideas became more and more complicated and complex,” a museum spokesman told The Art Newspaper.

Büchel, born in Basel in 1966, has exhibited his work at venues from New York’s Guggenheim Museum and Paris’s Palais de Tokyo to Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art, and has been featured in international exhibitions and fairs from Art Basel to the Sydney Biennial and the Venice Biennale. Frieze editor Dan Fox dubbed a 2007 project at London’s Hauser & Wirth (which represents the artist) “spectacular in scale and sensibility.”

Cancellation and even controversy are nothing new for Büchel, though, whose résumé includes a functioning mosque at the Icelandic Pavilion of the 2015 Venice Biennale that was shut down by local authorities, and a gargantuan project at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art that led to giant budget overruns at the then-new museum. That latter project ended with an epic conflict between the museum and the artist, which aimed to exhibit the work in progress, against the artist’s wishes.


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