Placing their works in buildings and fields all over Münster, following long periods of research on the area, artists in the 2017 Skulptur Projekte here are revealing all sorts of fascinating and little-known aspects of the city. For instance, Emeka Ogboh has made a piece inspired by the fact that the legendary Moondog is buried in one of Münster’s cemeteries, a bit of news that completely blew my mind.
Moondog, for those not acquainted, was a blind street performer and composer born Louis T. Hardin born in 1916, and was most famous for standing, for decades, around 54th Street and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan in a full Viking outfit. In the mid-1970s, he decamped for West Germany, where he had found acclaim for his musical work (he composed in Braille). He apparently moved to Münster shortly before dying, in 1999, at the age of 83. (His complete Times obituary is essential reading.)
A brief excerpt of Passage through Moondog
Ogboh has placed speakers inside a busy pedestrian tunnel that runs underneath the city’s main train station, which includes a onetime Moondog associate, Stefan Lakatos, jamming on a trimba, a percussion instrument conceived by the composer. A video of a bit of that action is above, giving a little hint of how seamlessly its bewitching rhythm blends in with all the sounds in the cacophonous tunnel—people speaking various languages, bicycles, trains, street musicians, and quite a bit more.
Working with a cast of collaborators, Ogboh has also integrated Moondog poems and other sounds into his piece, so it’s tricky to know what is coming from the speakers and what are natural sounds echoing through the cacophonous tunnel. When I first visited, an impressive street band—with double bass, sax, and accordion—was wailing in the center, and I thought they were actually the artwork. Having visited again later and heard the trimba percussion, I’m pretty sure that they were actually using the audio as a backing track.
And as if this were not all charming enough—a beautiful tribute to a pioneer of outré sound and his use of public space—Ogboh has brewed a beer with the aid of Philipp Overberg of the Guthaus-Brauerei in town. That work, called Quiet Storm, is, to quote its back label, a “honey ale with lime tree flowers, fermented to Lagos soundscapes, honey collected in the city of Münster.” Yes, the artist played sounds from Lagos, where he is based, to the beer while it fermented for two weeks, and a curatorial statement says that “all the city’s good vibes are present in” the beer. Who am I to argue? It is delicious.
I had my first Quiet Storm after a long day of walking and biking around Münster and then proceeded to walk through the Hamburger Tunnel, where all the sounds began to meld together, taking on a delirious abstract jauntiness, as in certain Moondog compositions—ding, a-ling, a-ling, a-ling, a-ling, a-ling, a-ling, a-ling, a-ling.