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The Strangers

Thomas Schütte, documenta 9, 1992

The 3 figures on the columned entranceway come from documenta 9. The German artist Thomas Schütte placed his glazed ceramic work of art "The Strangers" here in 1992.  There were originally 12 figures and objects, such as shopping bags, jars, suitcases.

The figures stand apart from Friedrichsplatz, the central site of the action, and also seem to be standing apart in their design. They keep their arms close by their sides, as if they were trapped. Stationary, they look down at us with a sorrowfully lowered gaze, without really reaching us.

It is concerned with a view of humanity, with people who are standing on the edge of the precipice, excluded, silently observing. A symbol for the fact that they are also standing at the edge of society - note the title "The Strangers".

They are standing on the edge in terms of place and expression, and thus refer to a phenomenon of our time. In relation to a political context, the explosive debate on the right of asylum, which Schütte confronts with sensitive vigilance and irony, is expressed here. Furthermore, the figures should be taken in context with the figures on the Fridericianum. There the venerable representatives of culture and science, and here the excluded people in the same place.

The remaining figures of the work of art "The Strangers" were purchased by the Leffers Group for 210,000 DM and presented to the city; the other figures returned to Düsseldorf. There was no space for them on the roof of the Red Palace, "they would have dominated the space", according to Schütte. The Red Palace was originally the royal residence in the city. Today, it belongs to the fashion store Leffers.