Performance - Installation

La Petite mort

Harbour – Sediment – Der kleine Tod


The Port of Hamburg is the third largest port in Europe. It is a place of transfer: transfer of goods and of people. Starting point for expeditions and cruise liners, handling location of the container and tanker giants. The port is fed by the Elbe. It washes around Wilhelmsburg and flows west into the North Sea. Between inland and offshore, sediment and flotsam washes along in the river. The transformation of this Elb sediment, the mess at the bottom, has caught my interest.

I dove down into the Elbe. From an area of about 16 square meters I collected the deposited sediment from the river and carefully brought it to the surface. The duration of the activity is closely related to our resources (endurance and breathing air). By salvaging material from the invisible Elbe ground, the transfer to the second part of the art performance begins: the quicksand.

The quicksand

At its peak of popularity, quicksand was a sexually tinged hazard that appeared in dozens, if not hundreds, of Hollywood films. In the meantime it has disappeared from the mainstream. But there is a community of quicksand enthusiasts that engage in ritual sinking and writhing in the wet wallows. They shoot new versions of their favorite quicksand scenes and produce remakes of the classics. Erotic innuendos abound as performers are swallowed by the wet pit.

With the second part of this art performance we discussed the question: To leave or to stay? To travel or to refuse? We exhibited quicksand in which one could immerse oneself. We introduced the salvaged material to a new context, an experiential space of letting go.


The Exhibition took place at XPON in Hamburg after the mud was salvaged in front of the ‘Deutsches Hafenmuseum’. The installation was than a stage for performing the drowning of a ‘damsal in distress’.

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