Shell (light green), 2015

Lacquered bronze casting, 283 × 175 × 178 cm

The motif of corner niches on historical buildings has long fascinated Katharina Fritsch. The cowrie shell also makes many references to cultural history. One finds them as grave goods in Neolithic graves in Eurasia and Africa. As of the 6th century, they spread throughout Europe via water trade routes and served as currency, as jewelry, or as a symbol of female fertility. They were worn as amulets against the evil eye and used as eyes in Australasian fetish figures.

Katharina Fritsch is interested in all these uses and meanings. The shell was produced for a corner niche on a new building on the Rhine that Herzog & de Meuron is erecting in Basel for a major pharmaceutical company—easily visible over the riverbank of one of the most important water trade routes in Europe. Among other things, it embodies the yearning for the sea, and one might perhaps ask oneself if it produces sounds when the wind whistles through it.

According to Jacqueline Burckhardt, May 2015