Swiss artist Christoph Büchel is known for creating rather challenging exhibits which require a good physical condition to manoeuvre.
The House of Friction, located in an old water tower in St. Gallen, focuses on the artist’s memories of visiting his grandmother’s house.
Surge of Adrenaline
You must enter the exhibit alone, armed only with a key to the door, your mobile phone and a sheet of instructions. After that, you must climb through dusty old rooms, up ladders and creaky old stairs, down chutes and through ice-encrusted rooms.
As you clamber through, you cannot help feel a surge of adrenaline as you slowly, fearfully open every door - not sure what to expect.
You feel less like a visitor to somebody’s house, and more like an invader into Büchel’s mind, as you jump from one memory suddenly into another. At times, you feel like a survivalist, as you walk at the top of water tower, over pigeon eggs and feathers (and stuffed pigeons!), and over the other side.
For Büchel, everything can be integrated into his work. Rumor has it that when the work was closed for a long period of time, drug addicts squatted there, leaving behind syringes and other things, so Büchel left them in place to further enhance the sense of neglect and dilapidation.
Not for the Faint of Heart
This is not for the faint hearted, one of the staff told me. At times, they even had to rescue people too scared to continue.
Even I thought about returning to the entrance when I saw some of the drops and heights I had to go down! However, each room was fascinating as you voyeuristically inspect the details that make up somebody else’s life.
If the idea of a challenge and a unique adventure appeals to you, make sure you find time to visit The House of Friction next time you are in St. Gallen. In addition to the tower, there are also regular art exhibits in the gallery, and delicious food in the café for when you have worn yourself out!
- Open Sundays from 11 AM - 6 PM (closed shoes and long sleeve shirts recommended)
- The Lokremise exhibit hall is reachable by foot from St. Gallen's main station (Unterführung West) within 5 minutes.
(Feature photograph copyright by Kecko/Flickr, remaining photographs copyright by Kunstgiesserei)