Eisring, 1970

Ice Ring, 1970
Installation, 20 x 120 x 200 cm

Haacke's early work in 1960 demonstrates his interest in the biological, ecological and the cybernetic. In particular, the writing of biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy and his book General Systems Theory (1968) had a profound effect on the artist's thinking. In 1962, Haacke began to make works such as Condensation Cube, which incorporate pexiglass containers filled with water in order to instantiate natural processes. The focus on natural processes such as condensation and evaporation reflects his early affiliation with the German "Group Zero" and their experimentation with abstract form modified by phenomena such as light, shadow, reflection, and motion. The work's cubic shape additionally points to Haacke's encounter with Minimalism, yet he departs from the industrial vocabulary of its materials. As Benjamin Buchloh explains, the viewer of "Condensation Cube" is "no longer exclusively, or even primarily linked to the work through perceptual interaction, but rather observes the traces and texture of physiological and physical processes generated within the work, which operates in relative independence from the viewing subject". [1].

[1] Benjamin Buchloh, "Hans Haacke: The Entwinement of Myth and Enlightenment", a Obra Social: Hans Haacke (Barcelona: Fundació Antoni Tàpies, 1995), 48.

I have partially filled Plexiglas containers of a simple stereometric form with water and have sealed them. The intrusion of light warms the inside of the boxes. Since the inside temperature is always higher that the surrounding temperature, the water enclosed condenses: a delicate veil of drops begins to develop on the inside walls.
At first they are so small that one can distinguish single drops from only a very close distance. The drops grow, hour by hour, small ones combine with larger ones. The speed of growth depends on the intensity and the angle of the intruding light. After a day, a dense cover of clearly defined drops has developed and they all reflect light. With continuing condensation, some drops reach such a size that their weight overcomes the forces of adhesion and they run down along the walls, leaving the trace. This trace starts to grow together again. Weeks after, manifold traces, running side by side, have developed. According to their respective age, they have drops of varying sizes. The process of condensation does not end.
The box has a constantly but slowly changing appearance that never repeats itself. The conditions are comparable to a living organism that reacts in a flexible manner to its surroundings. The image of condensation cannot be precisely predicted. It is changing freely, bound only by statistical limits. I like this freedom.


Technical details

Original title:
Registration number:
Haacke, Hans
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
Object type:
Refrigeration motor, methacrylate and water
20 x 120 x 200 cm (height x width x depth)
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation. Gift of Onnasch Collection
© Hans Haacke, VEGAP, Barcelona
It has accessibility resources:

The MACBA Collection features Catalan, Spanish and international art and, although it includes works from the 1920s onwards, its primary focus is on the period between the 1960s and the present.

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