The visitors to the exhibition are the beneficiaries of the Holocaust.” This line was phrased by Santiago Sierra during an interview ahead of his exhibition “245m³”, and it referred to the barely known economic backgrounds of the extermination of Jews during the Nazi regime; he spoke the words to bring certain aspects of his provoking and disturbing “Intervention” into focus that he realised for the Stommeln Synagogue Project of the City of Pulheim in spring of 2006.
While exhibitions at Stommeln Synagogue tend to be scheduled for the fall months, Sierra opted for the late wintertime or early springtime, a season with a hard, wintry light.
Six passenger cars were parked in the surroundings of the Synagogue, ordinary vehicles in no way set apart from other cars in the cityscape of the small community of Stommeln. On March 12, 2006, a Sunday, the engines of these inconspicuously parked cars were running. Long black hoses up to 100 metres in length conducted the fumes from the exhaust pipes into the Synagogue’s interior. This was done in a brute, makeshift, almost improvised manner and without precision – the precision of German civil engineering – as Sierra emphasised in the interview. The black hoses traversed the space between the vehicles and the Synagogue in an alien and simultaneously aggressive way. They wended their way across sidewalks, through small front yards and backyards, past a flower shop and a newsagent’s – harmless, present-day Germany – and eventually through the windows of the Synagogue.
According to Sierra, the number of parking cars, six, implies no essential iconographic or symbolic significance, unlike the well-known connotations of the numbers three, four, seven or twelve. In his so-called Intervention, Sierra strove to refrain largely from any symbolic or metaphoric codification of his statement. For instance, he chose Sunday for rather practical reasons: the idea being to enable as many visitors as possible to attend his events.