The synagogue in Stommeln is a meeting place where people congregated to face the sacred, even if it was abandoned as such in the 1920s.In other words, the decision to define this place as a special site where the profane may connect with the religious was made once before.In this sense, Long’s installation is basically a redundancy or reiteration, as his intervention re-marks or re-identifies a location that was already accorded its significance in another, previous time.Then again, the semicircular shape creates a new situation. A semi-circle is, subjectively speaking, a shape that appears to aim toward its own perfection, to seek its counterpart, its supplement. At the same time, a semi-circle always has a certain orientation.
The semicircle in his work “Slate Atlantic” that Long realised at the Tate St. Ives in Cornwall in 2002 is open toward the ocean.In Stommeln, it is open in the direction of the torah ark.In either case, the half-moon shape of the installation finds its opposite in a place powerful enough to trigger the experience of the numinous. In St. Ives, it is the overwhelming vastness and mythical power of the sea’s aspect, whereas in Stommeln it is that part of the synagogue where the holiest of holy, the word of God, was kept.In this way, Richard Long formally supplements and intensifies the historic placements of this site as religious meeting place, and at the same time renews it under the sign of art.As it were, the stones in their archaic iconography appear to penetrate the historic layer of the synagogue in order to refer to the origin of religion beyond its specific trappings, and to the original power of the same.