2017 Skulptur Projekte Münster

It Tolls for Thee: Cerith Wyn Evans’s Skulptur Projekte Münster Piece Is Nearly Imperceptible

Cerith Wyn Evans, A Modified Threshold … (for Münster) Existing church bells made to ring at a (slightly) higher pitch, 2017, at St. Stephanus Church.


Skulptur Projekte Münster provides an almost irresistible opportunity for artists to make intensely ambitious work—Claes Oldenburg installed huge pool balls in 1977, which are now permanently on view, and Mike Kelley conjured a peculiar petting zoo in 2007—so it’s always remarkable and, in a sense, admirable when an artist opts to create something extremely subtle. Exhibit A this year is Cerith Wyn Evans, who seems to have taken to heart Douglas Huebler’s famous line, “The world is full of objects, more or less interesting; I do not wish to add any more. I prefer, simply, to state the existence of things in terms of time and place.”

Wyn Evans has installed a refrigeration unit in the bell tower of St. Stephanus Church, an unusual Brutalist church in a sleep suburban part of town, which causes the bells to ring at a slightly higher pitch. The work is titled, fittingly, A Modified Threshold … (for Münster) Existing church bells made to ring at a (slightly) higher pitch (2017). The bells ring once an hour, at a quarter to, so plan your trip accordingly. Not knowing that, I had to wait around for about 25 minutes and took the time to explore the tranquil surrounding area, which is perhaps part of Wyn Evans’s intent, as I haven’t seen the timing listed anywhere.

Above and below, excerpts of Wyn Evans’s piece in Münster

The ringing did seem, just maybe, a touch higher in pitch than normal, though I doubt I would have noticed had I not been told to listen for it. (Which certainly prompts tree-falling-in-a-forest questions about art.) What I most definitely did notice, though, were all the other church bells in Münster sounding for the rest of the day, little concerts regularly thrumming through the streets.

After listening to Wyn Evans’s piece for more than five minutes, I hopped on my bike, off to see the next artwork, still hearing the bell of St. Stephanus, off in the distance, as I rode. At some moments it got truly wild, and, as I slipped beyond its range, it was still going.


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