Bethlehemkirch-Platz, Mauerstrasse, Berlin
27’-6” high x 24’ x 4” diameter
The original Houseball, made for the performance Il Corso del Coltello, was based on the idea that one could gather all one's possessions in a large cloth and tie them up in the form of a ball that would roll -- thereby making any other transportation unnecessary -- to its next destination. The house was left behind; its contents became a house in itself. In Il Corso del Coltello, the Houseball, second only to the Knife Ship as a thematic object, was made up of the possessions of Georgia Sandbag, a character played by Coosje, and it accompanied her on a journey across the Alps.
Later, Coosje came to see the Houseball as a symbol of displaced populations and the ordeal of refugees, and in 1993 she proposed a more prominent, permanent version of the sculpture for a site in Berlin, near what had been Checkpoint Charlie, the gate of entry in the Berlin Wall. The place was a traffic island, visible from all sides, amid a new business complex. The Houseball was approved, but shortly after fabrication of the piece began, the site was returned to members of a family dispossessed during World War II who planned to put a building on it.
Quite characteristically, the Houseball was again on the move. The first appearance of the FRP Houseball sculpture was in Bonn, in front of the Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik, Deutschland, to which it journeyed by boat from Kreysler & Associates through the Panama Canal and up the Rhine River. The following year, the sculpture was flown -- suspended by a 300-foot-long cable attached to a Russian helicopter -- from Rostock on the Baltic Sea and lowered onto a permanent site in Berlin not far from the original location Bethlehemkirch-Platz, in front of a building by Philip Johnson.
Stainless steel, FRP, jute netting, polyurethane, and polyvinyl chloride foams; painted with polyester gelcoat.
Artist: Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen
Commissioned By: Ronald S. Lauder