Chris Nägele: »Distanz«
As you climb up the winding path towards Stuttgart's Killesberg, you have the Bismarck tower firmly in your sights. Stuttgart artist Chris Nägele has lit up the valley side of the tower in huge white neon letters that spell out the word "Distance". The setting is framed by the trees that line the path, which pulsate with "Far" and "Away" written in neon. Climbing the hill, you feel you are eating up the distance, but once you get to the top you realise that even though you are close up to the word and the artwork, they remain intangible. This opens up a new perspective – by covering the distance you have gained a wonderful view of the valley.
Born in Pforzheim in 1960, Stuttgart artist Chris Nägele trained as a stone carver and studied sculpture at Stuttgart Art Academy. Neon tubes have become one of her favourites mediums, and she blows the glass herself. She then shapes the neon tubes to form the basis of her artworks, turning them into fragile, intensely colourful designs that move in space, lie in drawers or follow the bends of rivers and racetracks. She regularly turns the neon tubes into letters. In this way, the artist displays her fascination with the relationship between this material, tangible form of language and the immaterial, intangible meaning of ephemeral neon light.
The 20-metre-high Bismarck Tower in grey Keuper sandstone was endowed by students at the Technical University and erected in 1904 in Stuttgart North to honour the founder of the German Reich, Otto von Bismarck. The plan was to hold events to commemorate the famous German politician, but it was used as a water tower from 1928 to the end of the 1980s. It was closed off for many years because of structural problems, but was reopened after major renovations in 2001-2002. Visitors who climb the 92 steps to the platform are rewarded with a wonderful view.
Am Bismarckturm 36
Exterior open to visitors at all times