Die Salztangente / The Salt Axis

At roughly 80 km long, The Salt Axis is one of the largest sculpture projects in the world. Artistically situated between land, contextual, and participatory art, it aims to bring a hidden situation to light. In this work, underground geological conditions are made visible on the earth’s surface and depicted with their cultural and historical significance. In western Münsterland, there is a ca. 200-million-year-old salt deposit located underground at a depth of 1,000 to around 1,400 meters. The history of the salt is the subject of The Salt Axis – from the crystalline deposit in the primeval sea to industrial salt mining. The route is designed as a bicycle path. At the locations of the underground salt deposits, Franz John installed fields of metal rods, which are painted in shades of gray and blue according to how the salt fields are mapped. The height of the rods indicates the former depth of the primeval sea that was responsible for the salt deposits and is exactly 48 meters above seal level, so that the length of the rods across the entire distance differs by up to five meters based on the terrain. The markers are grouped into eight fields of rods, which bicyclists encounter abruptly. These sculptural elements are each supplemented with a “signpost” that provides information on the history of the salt formation and salt mining, as well as the project in general. In addition to the information and visualization, The Salt Axis becomes an overall experience – particularly for bicyclists – when you can feel the salt on your skin and consider how “the concentration of salt in our cells corresponds exactly to that of the primeval sea.” (Franz John)


Franz John

Geboren in Markleugast bei Bayreuth; lebt in Berlin.
Studium »Visuelle Kommunikation«, Würzburg.
Aufenthalt in Italien / Assistenz in »Arte Povera« Ateliers in Turin.
»Artist in Residence« im Headlands Center for the Arts, San Francisco: Projekt Military Eyes in den Bunkeranlagen am Golden Gate.
CD-ROM »interzone« - Eine interaktive Zeitreise durch die Berliner Grenzanlage.
Visiting Faculty, Ohio State University - Department of Art, USA.
Gastlehrauftrag, Universität Paderborn, FB Medienwissenschaften.
Visiting Artist, University of Michigan - School of Art & Design, USA.
Aufenthaltsstipendium, Künstlerdorf Schöppingen, D.
Visiting Faculty, University of Michigan - School of Art & Design, USA.
Visiting Artist, Auckland University of Technology (AUT), Auckland, NZ.
Stipendium, Künstlerdorf Schöppingen, Schöppingen, D.
Gastdozent, Carl v. Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg (Institut f. Kunst & visuelle Kultur).

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80 km along the network of bicycle paths between Gronau and Bocholt
Franz John
Total distance: 80km, 8 fields of rods spanning 30 to 500 meters each with heights ranging from 1 to 5 meters depending on topography
Galvanized stainless steel, painted in shades from ultramarine to gray