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The vertical earth kilometre

Walter De Maria, documenta 6, 1977

For documenta 6, the artist Walter de Maria drilled a 1 kilometre hole into the earth, and connected 1 metre brass rods with a diameter of 5 cm to make 1 kilometre and inserted them into the hole. This is how the Vertical Earth Kilometre was created. In the placement of the Earth Kilometre, reference was made to the classical style rules, to which the architecture of the Fridericianum and the design of Friedrichsplatz is subject. In terms of content too, Walter de Maria wanted to refer to an issue that has occupied people from all cultural eras: geography and astronomy.

The "Vertical Earth Kilometre" is situated in the axis which is formed by the centre of the entranceway to the Fridericianum and the monument to Landgrave Frederick II, the centre of the square being marked by the two diagonal, intersecting footpaths. .

Stylistically, the work of art belongs to minimal art. The costs of the work of art of 750,000.00 DM were borne by various sponsors (including by theMunichgallery owner Heiner Friedrich). The installation of the work of art led to violent protests by the citizens ofKassel. That becomes understandable if you consider that Friedrichsplatz was full of cranes at the start of the construction work and that it was drilled open.

In a unique way, with his "Vertical Earth Kilometre", a work of art which is characterised by absence, Walter de Maria provided the most diverse associations and ideas.  However, "finding" requires "searching". And who can say that art always has to be understood if it simply speaks to us. If we like it or if new thoughts and emotions are inspired by it, whether they are positive or negative, hasn't the art already achieved its aim?