For Mondays #2, Michael Hagner + Merle Radtke: Gerhard Richter’s Installation Two Grey Double Mirrors for a Pendulum,

Since June 2018, Gerhard Richter’s installation Two Grey Double Mirrors for a Pendulum can be found in Münster’s Dominican Church, built in 1708–1725 based on designs by architect Lambert Friedrich von Corfey. As it belongs to the collection of the City of Münster, the work is under the care of the Kunsthalle Münster. Central to Richter’s installation is a Foucault pendulum, consisting of a metal sphere (ø 22 cm, 48 kg) suspended on a 28.75-metre stainless steel cable from the crossing dome of the Baroque church. What can be from the scaled base plate is the pendulum’s relationship to the rotating earth’s surface. In 1851, the French physicist Léon Foucault had used a similar apparatus in the Panthéon in Paris to make the earth’s rotation visible to the general public—a force that affects everything, even if it is not directly perceptible to us. With his experiment, the scientist had demonstrated that the surface under the free-swinging pendulum slowly rotates. Although by the mid-nineteenth century the rotation of the Earth had already long been proven, its obvious proof was new and spectacular. In Richter’s experimental arrangement, the pendulum is flanked by two grey mirrors, material the artist has been working with since the late 1960s. Mounted in pairs, they connect the work to the building, along with everything taking place between them.

Richter’s Two Grey Double Mirrors for a Pendulum is more than a physics experiment. The work finds itself in a mélange of science and fine art, of natural law and subjective experience. In the second episode of For Mondays, Merle Radtke talks to Michael Hagner about his book Foucaults Pendel und Wir. Anlässlich einer Installation von Gerhard Richter, published in 2021. The podcast provides background information on the book in which Hagner impressively traces the experiment’s public demonstration, from its first performance at the Panthéon to Gerhard Richter’s installation in Münster, and gives insight into the work’s relationship to the Parisian model and the history of the competition existing between religious and scientific world views.

Michael Hagner (born 1960) studied medicine and philosophy at the Free Universtiy of Berlin (1980–1986). After receiving his PhD in 1987, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Neurophysiological Institute of the Free University of Berlin (1987–1989) and a visiting scholar at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine in London (1989). He worked as a research assistant at the Institute for the History of Medicine and Science at the University of Lübeck (1989–91) and at the Institute for the History of Medicine at the Georg-August University of Göttingen (1991–1995), where he habilitated at the Medical Faculty in 1994. From 1995, he worked at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, first as a Heisenberg scholar of the German Research Foundation (1995–1996), then as senior scientist (1997–2003). Since 2003 he has been a full professor of science studies at ETH Zurich. He has also held visiting professorships in Salzburg, Tel Aviv, Frankfurt am Main and Cologne. In 2006 and 2007 he was a fellow at the Center for Literary and Cultural Research, Berlin; in 2008 he was a fellow at the Maison des Sciences de L'Homme, Paris. In 2000 he was awarded the Prize of the Berlin Brandenburg Academy of Science, and in 2008 the Sigmund Freud Prize for Academic Prose of the German Academy for Language and Literature. His research focuses on the historical epistemology of the human sciences, on strategies of visualization in the life sciences, the relationship between art and science, and the history of cybernetics.

Merle Radtke (born in 1986) is an art historian and cultural anthropologist working as a curator and author. She has been director of the Kunsthalle Münster since July 2018. Previously, she worked as a curator for the Hamburger Kunsthalle, the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart and the Jürgen Becker Galerie, among others. From 2015 to 2017, she was a member of the post graduate programme Aesthetics of the Virtual at the Hamburg University of Fine Arts (HfbK). This was followed by a research stay in Japan as a scholarship holder of the Villa Kamogawa/Goethe-Institut Kyoto. Merle Radtke regularly publishes texts on contemporary art and culture. Her work focuses on the practice and theory of the internet, (post-)digital art practices and feminist art as well as questions concerning the relationship between original, copy and simulation. At Kunsthalle Münster she realized, among others, the solo exhibitions of Mary Beth Edelson (2018), Christiane Blattmann (2019), Katia Kameli (2020), Daniel Steegmann Mangrané (2020) and Mikołaj Sobczak (2022), along with the group exhibitions Sensing Scale (2021), ton not. not ton (2021) and Nimmersatt? Imagining Society without Growth (2021).

For Mondays is a production by Kunsthalle Münster. Concept: Merle Radtke. Editing and coordination: Artefakt Kulturkonzepte, Jana Bernhardt and Merle Radtke. Production: Bela Brandes. Introduction: Arne Lenk. Graphic design: JMMP – Julian Mader and Max Prediger.

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Further Episodes:

For Mondays #5, Silke Wagner + Merle Radtke: münsters GESCHICHTE VON UNTEN

For Mondays #4, Tekla Aslanishvili + Vera Tollmann: Scenes from Trial and Error

For Mondays #3, Adrian Williams: One Word

For Mondays #1, Gail Kirkpatrick + Merle Radtke: From Städtische Ausstellungshalle am Hawerkamp to Kunsthalle Münster