As its contribution to the coming season of the Ruhrtriennale in late summer 2021, Urbane Künste Ruhr has worked together with the American artist Asad Raza to develop the large-scale exhibition Absorption.
Raza will take a large vacant lot in Essen city centre with a rich history of previous uses – from a department store to a savings bank – and fill it completely with earth in a manner similar to the land artist Walter de Maria’s creation of the legendary Earth Room in New York in the 1970s. However, Raza’s engagement with his material goes considerably further. This earth is itself the result of a lengthy preparation process. As part of this, Raza has previously gathered organic and inorganic matter in the region that has been processed and composted with the aid of a scientific adviser into new earth – what Raza terms »neosoil«. He will then work together with a team of cultivators over the full duration of the project on site to process the soil further. It will be filtered, separated into its constituent parts, analysed and then remixed. The cultivators will enter into exchanges with the public, informing them about the soil’s various contents and the work they are doing. Each visitor will be allowed to take a small sample home for their own use. The soil that is left over at the end of the project will be donated to allotment societies and other social organisations.
In this way an installation of considerable sensual and poetic power will be created: one that enriches the materials it uses and produces no waste. Earlier versions of Absorption have previously been presented at the Kaldor Public Art Project (Sydney, 2019) and the Gropius Bau (Berlin, 2020).