SANTA MONICA, California – Route 66 meets the ocean at Santa Monica Pier, but few may think of the world beneath the pier, except perhaps artist Manfred Mueller, who was impressed by the cathedral-like quality of the space in the 1980s, where artificial pillars made of wood and concrete withstand the constant force of the ocean.
Müller’s answer was to create a public space installation called “Twilight and Yearning”, which consists of three orange-colored boats that stand upright like guardians between sand and waves.
What you need to know
- In the late 1990s, the artist Manfred Müller created “Twilight and Sehnsucht” as a statement on the environment and climate change
- The installation was donated to the City of Santa Monica in 1998 and installed under the Santa Monica Pier
- The city of Santa Monica has now decided to remove the artwork, citing safety concerns
- Müller claims the work is a contemporary statement on climate change and can be preserved with the help of the City of Santa Monica
“I brought a certain idea here that actually gives the citizen of Santa Monica, the citizen of Southern California, some idea of how valuable this element of life, the ocean, is,” said Müller.
The conception and completion of “Twilight and Yearning” took five years and Müller donated it to the city of Santa Monica in 1998 with the promise that the city would keep the work.
Over the years there have been many changes caused by the elements. The movement of the tides has half buried the boats in the sand and has also washed away the posters that have been placed nearby to explain the work to visitors.
“We have to renew that, otherwise it makes no sense,” said Müller. “You know, nobody knows what it is.”
Müller claims the installation can be reactivated with a few simple things like motion-controlled LED lighting, new digital QR codes for the smartphone era, and of course a new coat of paint. Graffiti on the orange boats was randomly covered with gray paint stains.
Despite Müller’s request for an update, the City of Santa Monica recently decided to withdraw the plant, citing safety concerns. Müller points out that the city has also put up signs indicating that the area is now closed to the public due to the pandemic.
The German-American artist has appealed against the city’s decision and continues to call for the 23-year-old piece to be saved.
Regarding the work and Müller’s appeals, Andy Agle, director of the Santa Monica City Community Services Department, made the following statement to Spectrum News 1:
“Since the [installation’s] Burial in the sand has created a hazard and the site is not open to the public, the city was unable to accommodate it [Müller’s] Inquiry … During this appointment process the idea arose to commission Mr. Müller to document the history of the project and to contextualize the topics in twilight and longing … We look forward to this coming to fruition in the near future. “
But Müller said he had not given up yet and that the play should and can continue to live …
“… with a new description. But to reactivate the whole thing, ”he said.
And as awareness of the environment and climate change continues to grow, with the right framing and restoration work, the three boats can continue to invite us to reflect on the importance of this space under the pier and the ocean to which we are all connected. Müller believes.