People exist in three-dimensional worlds; yet they have still found the time for symbolic languages and many cultural practices, such as science, music, architecture, art, and so on. And with the help of these cultural practices, they have been trying ever since to find out whether or not there are other worlds beyond the three-dimensional one. And look: physics – in the form of Lisa Randall, for example – finds extradimensional spaces; Roger Penrose drew impossible triangles and M. C. Escher impossible architecture. The philosopher Robert Pfaller has studied the phenomenon of “second worlds” behind the first, three-dimensional one and found that even the concrete daily existence of completely normal people always reveals several worlds: not just the daytime one but also that of daydreaming. Or that of the double life, whereby, absurdly, it can happen that, for example, a husband spices up the dreary existence of his normal family life in his own home with his wife and two children with a double life in which he also lives in his own home with a wife and two children. Exactly the same, only doubled.
In her work, Karin Sander is also searching for second worlds, for the image behind the tapestry or emulsion paint, for all of the other Karin Sanders who exist in addition to her, for spaces within spaces, and also in an architectonic work in which she has doubled and physically mirrored a complete room in her studio. The adjacent rooms are exactly the same size and have the same furniture and an identical window. Access is through a rotating piece of wall. Just like Cardinal Richelieu’s door in the tapestry, the two otherwise hidden rooms open up, immediately raising the question of who uses them: two identical twins with the same penchants, who dress identically and therefore want to have the same rooms? A single person who systematically experiments with different identities and therefore needs an experimental setup with two exactly identical spatial situations?
A person like the Max Frisch’s character Gantenbein, who tries out stories about himself like clothing, with the difference that here they are rigorously identical spaces? So we are seeing an experimental setup for worlds beyond the three dimensions familiar to us, a very elaborate one, because, after all, these spaces are not models to try out other realities but rather real architecture. But if we consider that the physicists at the CERN particle accelerator in Geneva have an apparatus to simulate reality that costs nearly a billion euros a year to operate, Sander’s effort seems quite modest. In the end, we always end up with art, that second world without which the first could not even exist.
Text: Harald Welzer, “The Mirrored Room”
(Translation: Steven Lindberg)