stone building. A glass door. A metal reception. I stand there, in between the
door and the reception, surrounded by white walls, surrounded by a coloured crowd.
All those teenagers, what are they doing here? I expected the building to be quiet,
to be almost empty. A museum on a Thursday morning. Some men maybe, some women,
some guards. But not all those kids. Not this bus station school yard atmosphere.
I look around, they are everywhere. Their red and green and black jackets spill
over the wardrobe.
the crowd can make another move, I step forward to the reception desk.
one person," I say.
"Are you sure that you want to visit today,"
the woman behind the counter asks, and nods towards the coloured crowd. "The
exhibit is filled with school classes. Maybe you want to come back on another
"I just have this morning to be here," I tell her. I don't
add that I drove all the way from Stuttgart only for this exhibit. And for the
drive. But somehow, the drive would lose its point when I walked away now.
she types in the fee.
I shrug. "It is today or not at all," I explain.
She hands me my ticket, which isn't colored, which is nothing but a small
white slice of paper with some numbers on it. No decoration at all, not even the
name of the exhibit. No new item for my pinboard. Feeling deceived by the ticket,
by the situation, I slip it in my purse. A step later, I hold in, to take it out
again, to have it ready for the guard when I enter.
the time, I don't notice that Niki is already there, hidden behind the gestures
of the school kids, there, behind the crowd. At the far wall she has found her
spot, looking, looking out of dark eyes, curious for the ones who come here, a
woollen pullover and a satin scarf wrapped around her.
I walk past her, towards the guard, the ticket in my hand. But the guard just
nods, his eyes on the coloured crows behind me. He probably has seen me buying
the ticket. Through a white door, I step into the first exhibit room.
is empty. Void of persons, void of colors. Baffled, I stand in the middle of the
room. Some paintings on the wall, small, in grey and brown colors. A white line
on the grey-brownish floor, keeping the distance. No school class. And none of
the colors and forms I expected.
take a step forward, to one of the paintings. It isn't a painting, I see. It is
a collage, a part of a series of "Combine painting" as the metal plate
next to it explains. The one I stand in front holds a plate that is carrying a
plastic figure and a stone. Surrounding it, four pieces of a puzzle. In a black
field above it, plastic pearls and matches. A living room, I think. A table. A
combine contains plastic skulls. Fishing lines. Gear wheels. Needles and pins.
The darkness of formless holes. All those things that sting.
is more, layers and layers of detail, of scattered meaning, covered with colorless
paint. Had I expected this, I would feel more comfortable with it. But this is
not the Niki I know. Where are the Nanas? Where are the orange ornaments, the
mystical mosaics, the fairytale figures? Where are the dragons with green star
tails, the woman with silver wings, with flower breasts?
in the next room, I think, turning from the combined paintings, from the stone
and metal pieces, to the door that leads further.