At documenta 14 in Kassel, an Artwork Will Get Its Own Fire Safety Personnel

More than 30 concerned citizens called the fire department last weekend to report Daniel Knorr's new installation.

Daniel Knorr, Expiration Movement, (2017). Fridericianum Kassel. Photo © Bernd Borchardt, Courtesy Galerie nächst St. Stephan

Daniel Knorr’s new artwork for the Kassel leg of documenta 14, Expiration Movement, which causes white smoke to rise from a tower of the Fridericianum museum, has set off some alarm in the German city.

More than 30 concerned citizens made calls to the local fire station last weekend during the artwork’s first run. While documenta 14 doesn’t open in Kassel until June 10, Expiration Movement began pumping smoke on Saturday, to mark the opening of the Athens leg of the exhibition.

Head of the Kassel Fire Department, Norbert Schmitz, told DPA on Monday that every time a caller reports smoke, the department must check for fire.

Following what must have been a very frustrating weekend for local firefighters, and to avoid their near-constant presence at the museum throughout the duration of documenta 14 in Kassel, the fire department quickly came to an agreement with the company managing the quinquennial art exhibition. The museum will have a security officer stay by the phone on site and keep an eye on the installation. His task is to confirm that the building is not on fire when future calls are made.

Daniel Knorr, Expiration Movement Manifest (2017). Image ©Daniel Knorr/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017

Schmitz points out that smoke from a fire would actually be black, rather than Knorr’s smoke-machine white, but he is happy that people are being attentive. “We find it good that the citizens care about it at all,” he said.

Besides causing a bit of a scare, Expiration Movement is also apparently a financial strain—as reported in our review of documenta in Athens, Knorr is selling custom art books to fund the piece, which will be functioning every day from 10 am to 8 pm, for the duration of the exhibition.

Documenta 14 kicked off in Athens last week, and will be on view at various venues throughout the city until July 16. It will be open in Kassel from June 10 to September 17.

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