Art & Design

January 8, 2016

A Massive New Artwork Reinterprets the Disco Ball at Berlin’s Berghain

We caught up with artist Rommelo Yu, who also works at legendary nightclub

  • Written by Hili Perlson
  • Photography by Maxime Ballesteros

The thousands of clubbers who spent the long New Year weekend at Berghain would have noticed the newest addition to the club’s impressive architecture: a colossal rotating sculpture hanging in the prominent opening behind the main dance floor.

Loosely tracing the contours of a diamond shape, the object is made up of connected geometric shapes—think of a cross between Sol Lewitt’s Open Cubes and something that M.C. Escher would sketch—that create a jumble of squares. Rendered in wood, the piece’s surface is covered in mirrors and industrial metal bolts which capture, break, and shoot off light in myriad angles. Think of this hard-edged disco ball as a techno refix of a club classic. The effect is similarly psychedelic, though its kaleidoscopic play of color feels anything but retro.

“Art is usually not the first thing that comes to mind when explaining Berlin’s legendary Berghain to the uninitiated”

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The work, titled Klub Kronleuchter (Club Chandelier), was created by Rommelo Yu—a visual artist and long-time Berghain employee—who collaborated closely with the club’s technical manager, Krischan Makswitat, to install a total of eight projectors that illuminate the object. “The funny thing about working at the coatcheck,” Rommelo explains, “is that people come to me at the end of the night and thank me for the piece. Someone said he’d stared at it for hours, which is of course aided by other means of augmenting one’s visual perception.”

Whatever the viewing conditions may be, the artist regards it as a site-specific work that has everything to do with the space it was created for – in fact, it depends on the music and light for its completion.

Art is usually not the first thing that comes to mind when explaining Berlin’s legendary Berghain to the uninitiated. Much has been written about the club’s sex-fueled, hardcore techno parties and the infamously tough door rather than say, the two large-scale Wolfgang Tillmans artworks hanging behind the Panorama Bar on the club’s second floor or the sprawling, haunting mural by Piotr Nathan, which is the first thing people encounter when walking in.

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However, along with countless other details, these artworks reveal much about the meticulous attention paid by the owners to the club’s experience in its entirety, from the regularly tuned Function One sound system to the absence of mirrors in the bathrooms, down to the rubber covered ledges in the darkest corners of the re-functioned neoclassical power plant. The club famously imposes a strict “no photo” policy, which is why the artwork, like everything else, can only be viewed if you’ve made it past the doormen.

“Someone said he’d stared at it for hours, which is of course aided by other means of augmenting one’s visual perception.”

Last year, to celebrate Berghain’s tenth anniversary, an exhibition was staged at the vast industrial ‘Halle’ which sits behind the club and is only open on special occasions. The show featured works by artists affiliated with Berghain, many of whom are former or current employees, and the show’s catalogue Kunst im Klub (Art in the Club), was even recently reviewed by Tate Modern’s Chris Dercon.

Though only temporarily on display, Rommelo’s work currently occupies one of the most prominent spaces in the club, and does so to mesmerising effect. In his so-called chandelier, the artist traces a nonsensical structure with one line pushing forward in an endless loop of sharp corners. Its continuous movement and contained chaos feel emblematic of the clubbing experience. It’s the labyrinth that you don’t want to find your way out of.

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  • Rommelo Yu

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