Located in the century-old and under renovation Ballindamm 17, this new large-scale art project by Hamburg-based conceptual artist Shuk Orani is a mural occupying over 12 meters of internal wall space in one of the site’s ground-floor construction zones. The office building sits on a historical site on the promenade beside lake Alster, currently stripped down for revitalization as a piece of prime 21st-century real estate. Intervening in this process, in a space marked for high-end dining and retail, the mural can be seen as an opportunistic injection of art into a changing environment.
Orani’s canvas here is the white wall, rough and strewn with assorted textures. Plastered and concreted areas provide loosely formed geometric areas making it clear that the walls are not truly bare or prepared for painting but structured and challenging. This canvas demands a strong artistic hand and is duly met with a bold, abstract expressionist image reaching over 4 meters high in places.
The terraced room is strongly suggestive of motion and invites the viewer to travel along the length of the mural. Bold painterly areas of color transition chromatically – at one end, a tendency to primary colors, and at the other, a more restricted and moody palette. The height reached in applying paint suggests the artistic and bodily limits of working in this environment yet the straight baseline of the mural offers an artistic counterpoint to many vertical and horizontal lines found in this space.
The mural is both Orani’s intervention into the architecture of Ballingdamm 17 and a process of working within the format found there. It demonstrates the tension between operating in an alternative space for painting and contending with the rules imposed by that space. Although temporary in nature and inspired by the impermanent nature of both art and architecture, the project proposes a future for itself and an artwork that transcends architectural limits. It resides now in a transitional space, largely devoid of people and on walls soon to be refurbished for the building’s new life. The expectation is the art will be sealed up as the construction site comes to its conclusion.
Cognizant of architectural change, Oranis’s artwork may lie covered and waiting for a future reveal and a future audience when change next visits Ballingdamm 17.