At first glance it’s an architectural disaster of biblical proportions.
The glass from the windows of an 11th century abbey smashed in, fragments cascading across the floor in a wave.
Only the pieces aren’t moving.
It’s actually one of the most arresting installations we’ve seen for quite some time, and it’s the first in a series of efforts to turn the hall of a former Benedictine abbey in Germany into an international art exhibition space.
On display until 20 August, the intricate work is part of a show called Spiritual Ground (curated by Nadia Ismail and Dr Astrid Legge) and is the creation of French sculptor Baptiste Debombourg, who explained the inspiration behind Aérial to HuffPost UK.
“I was invited to make something for this extraordinary place - the abbey of Brauweiler.
“It was an important abbey created in 1024 that watched over Cologne for years. In 1809, Napoleon made it a hostel for beggars, then during the second world war the Nazis converted it into the first concentration camp where Konrad Adenauer was tortured. Today it hosts the offices for Historical heritage.”
“I wanted to create an echo of this contradictory history that has a strong resonance with the spirituality of the place. Hence the broken glass as main material and the construction of a glassy, breaking wave.”
So far, he says, he’s been happy with the reaction it has caused.
“Those who know the abbey and have some connection with it welcomed the installation very warmly, and there is now talk of extending the exhibition. It’s exceeded all my expectations,” he said.
34-year-old Debombourg studied fine art in both Lyon and Paris, and has exhibited across his home country and Eastern Europe.
He has a forthcoming solo shows in Cologne and Paris and will be exhibiting at the Volta art Fair in Basel and in Canada at the end of the year.