Carbon Obelisk


At a crossreads north of the Emscher, at the Schurenbach waste heap, an almost fourteen meters high obelisk was built. It alludes to the way – frequently imported from the east – obelisks were used during the Renaissance and Baroque eras as landmarks to distinguish squares and buildings. McBride’s obelisk, however, deliberately marks a non-place, a small, unspectacular spot in a kind of no-man’s-land. Set beneath a high-voltage power line and surrounded by bushes, the sculpture seems to have been left there by accident.

First impressions, however, can be deceptive: as a symbol of autonomous sculpture, the obelisk is McBride’s answer to the prominent landmarks by Raimund Kummer and Richard Serra nearby. Kummer’s 1987 sculpture Schwelle (Wave) can be found if one continues straight down the Emscher bicycle path, while Serra’s Bramme (1998) is a distinguishing feature atop the Schurenbach waste heap to the south.

McBride’s sculpture is also a reference to the region’s history as Germany’s mining center – the carbon used fort he sculpture is made from coal-based carbon fibers, and its shimmery, matte surface shows that it is an expensive, unusual material.

Visitor information

Adress: Altenessener Str. (at about Waldemey Strasse), 45329 Essen

There is a parking lot at Altenessener Straße (coming from the south) to the right behind the bridge “Zweigertbrücke” (diagonally opposite of Waldemey-Straße) in Essen-Karnap. Walk to the end of the parking lot in east direction, then follow the foot and bike path to the dyke of the Emscher. At the crossroad walk to the right, around 6 meters from there you’ll find the sculpture.