The Coastal Path in Cologne – The Rhine Part 3

The Zoobrücke, literally “Zoo Bridge” is so called because it lies just to the south of Cologne’s zoo.  We weren’t going to the zoo today.  Instead we went to Skulpturenpark which was right next to the bridge.  It had a cafe, and we were hungry.


There was nobody to be found in the cafe, and I got the impression we were the first and possibly only customers of the day.  After calling out “Guten Tag” a couple of times, a man appeared.  He seemed quite surprised and also quite pleased to have customers.  “Would you mind waiting 15 minutes?” he asked.  “We need to switch the machines on and warm the kitchen up”.  The wait was worth it.  A slice of apple and blackberry crumble cake; waffles and ice cream for the kids; and the best glühwein we had whilst out here.

After lunch we went to see the sculptures.  The centrepiece of the park seemed to be Florian Slotawa’s Kölner Reihe, something I found somewhat intriguing and confusing in approximately equal measures.


Our children immediately wanted to climb all over it.  We had to draw them away before they started destroying exhibits through play.  Then the write-up for the work would have to be changed.  To what, I wondered?  “Young artists Ben and Cate Maunder Taylor’s stunning contemporary piece shows twisted metal with muddy footprints, a broken glass concave mirror and dented golden ball.  It is a modern statement of juvenile delinquency seen all too often in today’s urban centres.  Positioned in the Skulpturenpark on the banks of the Rhine, what was a beautiful and renowned artwork now draws upon the depravity of English tourists abroad and has become a stark statement of the effect of urban migratory tourism on the otherwise sedate existence of 21st Century Germany…”.

Yes, best get them out of here!

We moved on to Dirk Skreber’s Reaktor.  Great, I thought, they could clamber all over this one and damage it as much as they wanted, and nobody would be any the wiser.  But how could they get to it?


I have to say I actually really liked this piece.  Was it the fascination of destruction and impact?  A morbid observation from a safe viewing platform?  A pit had been dug about 25 feet into the ground, with a metal pole stuck right in the middle of it.  Skewered onto this pole was a crushed car.  Other sculptures in the park pronounced that they had been constructed from concrete, brass, steel, or wood.  This one (and I really really appreciated this) said it had been made out of “car”!  The viewer could go down into the pit, where “the full energy field of the Reaktor” could be experienced.  Alas, the gate was locked, but I really did feel the centrifugal force of all this destruction pulling me down into the pit.

We also stopped briefly at Bernar Venet’s Four Arcs of 235,5°.


For the second time our children felt the urge to go and climb.  Luckily, just at that moment a pigeon in a nearby tree was swooped upon by a bird of prey.  It dragged both the pigeon along a branch and our attention from the sculpture.  I grabbed for my camera but was too late.  The aggressor lost its grip and the pigeon fell off the tree.  It recovered mid-fall and raced off, its pursuer in full chase.

There was one more thing we looked at before we left.  Stood just by the entrance was this:


They must be doing building works, I thought to myself.  We looked around for signs of men in hi-viz jackets, displaying the cracks of their bottoms as they worked, but there were none.  No piles of rubble; no tools lying around.  Surely this couldn’t be an exhibit?  But it was.  The artist had found it on the streets of Berlin.  She took it apart and put it back together again inside-out.  Or, as the write-up says with far more flair, “the container was knocked down into its single parts and then re-welded into its original form but with its inner sides turned outwards, so that the interior patina now determines its outer appearance”.  There are a few people I wouldn’t mind doing that to…

But why?  A few years ago I had one of these things in my driveway at home.  It was regularly visited.  People pulled up in vans and took radiators, metal, timber, brick, rocks – in fact everything but the skip itself.

This sculpture was described as a theme of the stautary which interacted with a theme of mobility, from the container ships on the Rhine. I am afraid that all I saw in this piece was a personal message:  that I should have waited until all the junk had been removed from my skip at home, and then saved myself £120 by waiting for an artist to come and remove the skip itself, too.  Once the artist had turned it inside out the skip company would never be able to identify it and I’d be away free!

And with that, we left the most excellent Sculpturenpark with its most excellent food (and most excellent glühwein), and continued on our walk.

Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):

  • Zoobrücke:  N 50° 57.272 E 006° 58.528
  • Skulpturenpark:  N 50° 57.342 E 006° 58.275

Walk Statistics (the entire walk, of which this forms the third part):

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1 Response to The Coastal Path in Cologne – The Rhine Part 3

  1. Jill says:

    I don’t get some people’s idea of art ~shrug~

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