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Fabian Knecht: Contemplation, 2018, photo by Paperlyte, installation view at Dallas City Hall



Contemplation (2018) is an ephemeral sculpture made of dense white smoke that emerges from the top of a building. The smoke billows, freely, for some time before dissipating. For AURORA, this occured on the roof of the Dallas City Hall, restaging a piece that was previously realized by the artist at the New National Gallery in Berlin, Germany.

The installation uses the building not so much as a (protective) shell but as a podium, springboard, platform and pedestal for this fleeting, temporal smoke sculpture, uncontrollable in its dispersal through space. Immateriality becomes an object that reacts in terms of orientation and color to the given atmospheric conditions, i.e. wind velocity, temperature and humidity.

Smoke signals have always been used to transmit messages. What is the message of Contemplation? “Maybe it is a kind of monumental anti-monument monument to what remains of the shrinking cultural area in art—to a space that seems dissolve into vapor, given that today only values what is useful and denies the intoxicating excess of imagery, which is the true place of art, its right to exist,” the artist says. 

His portrait of the fleeting uses the sky as an image carrier and turned the Dallas City Hall into a cloud factory, a site for ideas, illusion machine, power station—the embodiment of intellectual freedom beyond sociopolitical constraints.

Text  by Ursula Ströbele


Fabian Knecht is a German performance artist based in Berlin. His artistic practice pursues a consistent and uncompromising path, frequently scratching at societal mindsets. This is expressed in his temporary actions, which are often realized at historical locations. Knecht studied at the Universität der Künste Berlin and at the California Institute of the Arts. In 2014 he completed his master’s degree at Olafur Eliasson’s Institut für Raumexperimente. In 2012 he assisted in the studio of Matthew Barney in New York. Knecht’s works have been shown internationally, including at the MSU Museum for Contemporary Art (Zagreb), the Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, the Neue Nationalgalerie (Berlin), Hamburger Bahnhof (Berlin), the Imperial War Museum (London), and the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden.