Jan Svenungsson

"The Fourth Chimney" – Backstory

The story of the Drewen chimey begins early in 1996 with Winfried Muthesius visiting JS, in the latter's Künstlerhaus Bethanien studio, Berlin. Muthesius is interested in the artist's photographic work based on his chimney sculptures and asks whether it would be possible that JS builds one on ground belonging to Muthesius in the small village of Drewen, some 100 km north of Berlin. Already for some years Muthesius has been organizing a large outdoor/indoor exhibition there in summer, bringing together various international artists who happen to be passing through Berlin. JS agrees to come and have a look at the possible site. After having travelled there JS declares that he cannot build any sculpture on Muthesius' ground proper, but proposes instead to come up with a project image for a "chimney-sculpture at an ideal location in Drewen" for that year's summer exhibition.

His proposal accepted, JS researches the area in March 96, armed with a 135 camera. Later, in the studio, he makes his choice based solely on the photographs, and paints a chimney into an enlargement from one of the negatives. This project image is exhibited, along with the three "official" photos of the existing chimney sculptures. The story could have ended there, but the following year there is talk about trying to make the project a reality. JS declares it would be alright with him to go along - as long as the sculpture (which is to be 13 m high) can be built exactly as in the photograph!

In 1997 the efforts to find sponsors, etc, fail.

However, in spring 1998 Muthesius declares he will now be able to go through with construction, and preparations are begun. The spot of land now belongs to Muthesius' foundation; the Internationales Kunstforum Drewen. Construction is scheduled to begin in early June. And construction is begun - that is, a hole is dug for the foundation when police turns up with a court order ("Einstweilige Verfügung") to stop the process: a local farmer has lodged a protest, which must now be considered before anything can happen. Disappointed JS produces a photo of the situation one week after: "Baustopp".

Summer 1999 finally, everything seems set up and a date is decided: 13 July. It turns out to be a bad date, unfortunately. Two weeks before construction is due to begin, it is once again stopped, because of a sponsor who pulls out.

In October of the same year, it is to the artist's considerable surprise when building works begin in earnest, and are carried through succesfully into mid November when this photograph finally has become reality.