Modern and Contemporary Art
High Security and Isolation Cell
In this work Gregor Schneider focuses on the physical and mental conditions of an individual in a state of isolation and detachment, in a socio-political context. While surfing the internet, Schneider happened upon photographs of detainee cells in Camp V, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the notorious US detention camp: a closed enclave in a foreign territory, designated for security detainees. The detainees – nameless, faceless people devoid of legal status, detached from the world. Their cells are lit with a white neon light, the windows are tall, narrow openings, orange clothes are carefully folded on mattresses; these all bore a surprising resemblance to the rooms in Schneider's works. Arrows pointing towards Mecca on the floor of some of the cells echo a topic that had preoccupied the artist a year previously, in his monumental work, inspired by the Mecca Ka'aba, Cube Venice 2005.
Schneider's artistic strategy enables the presence of the latent. In this spirit, the cell presented here is a kind of minimalist prototype of a sterile isolation cell, neutralized of time and space and narrative, simultaneously familiar and alienated – it physically shakes us up with its certain presence (for example, with the door closing behind us). The global knowledge which is selectively transmitted for us through the media's filters becomes in Schneider's work a situative event, a performance which the viewer participates in.