The square of 3 added to the square of 4 is equivalent to the square of 5. This rule, which can be found in any math textbook, is known as the Pythagorean theorem.
The square of the hypotenuse parallels the wall at the end of the cube-shaped interior of Stommeln Synagogue. This is the wall where the torah ark made of dark wood is located. The sum of the squared numbers 3, 4, and 5 is equivalent to 50. Accordingly, 50 iron tiles measuring 50 by 50 by 1 cm of this formal-logic machine, which is weighty in more senses than one, have been arranged on the floor.
The iron tiles have not been finished, but still bear clear traces of industrial production. The actual floor of the former synagogue also consists of square tiles, these ones made of stone. The arrangement of the iron tiles in a square pattern via adjacent leg and opposite leg is not aligned with the corners of the otherwise symmetrical room. The centre of the floor sculpture remains vacant. The iron tiles make a crunchy sound underfoot as you walk on them.
“Matter” and “place” represent essential constitutive elements of Carl Andre’s sculptural works. The location, the synagogue, is charged with the joint German-Jewish history to the point of pain. At the same times, it is drained not least by the redundancy of the protestations of shock, which as often as not have degenerated into a mere mantra, but drained also by the absence of the social group that for centuries played a defining role in German culture. Emptiness permeates this place, and it is a different emptiness than that of a “white cube” or a “black box.”
What does a mental figure weigh? How heavy are 50 iron tiles? What is the weight of memory? What might the void weigh that defines the small interior of the synagogue in Stommeln. Andre positions a central mathematical theorem, a basic sequence in