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  • Give and take: Kate Newby on her new show at the Klosterruine


Give and take: Kate Newby on her new show at the Klosterruine

Kate Newby is digging into the foundation of The Klosterruine as part of her new show: anything, anything.

Photo: Kate Newby

New Zealand-born artist Kate Newby aims to alter our perception of Klosterruine, one of Berlin’s oldest buildings, through subtle brick interventions splicing through its floor. Extending beyond the length of the building, the lines resonate with markings from different people and eras, triggering poetic encounters that make us consider our connection to the building and its past.

The Klosterruine is a 13th-century monastery that was damaged in World War II. How did you go about conceiving an idea for it?

It is a pretty loaded space, I think the second-oldest building in Berlin, and rather than just filling the space with stuff – the worst way to think about art! – I wanted to instead dig into the space and insert the work into it. So, I had this idea of creating these two thin lines of bricks and inserting them into the ground. Each line is about 100 metres long, and they will feel like claws scraping the ground.

What’s the significance of those two lines?

I’m taking up space and also creating space

Initially, I planned to do one line, but that seemed too dramatic, whereas two lines felt more like an investigation. One is vertical and one inverted, so I’m taking up space and also creating space. It’s almost like they fit together and become nothing.

The lines will be made with long bricks that you’ve pitted with deep grooves…

Exactly. I tear through the clay. It’s quite an incredible experience and I really love making these works. In a way, they respond to the bricks in the walls of the Klosterruine, which are filled with marks from different times and places and people. They are phenomenal to look at.

Photo: @kate__newby

Is the work also responding to these preserved ruins, the incisions in some way referencing its destruction?

The work is made through excavation, the removal of something, the removal of the ground and then also the removal of the clay. But I don’t see it as destructive; I see it as raw and immediate. But I do like this idea that you take away something to create something.

The building has no roof and missing walls. Did that influence your plans?

It is quite a vulnerable space, snow will fall on it and anyone could just climb the fence and take whatever they want, which is why I had this idea of inserting the work into the ground and in some cases replacing the pink DDR floor tiles that were put down when the ruins were being cleared.

You’re cutting up the old DDR tiles?

That’s what we’re still figuring out because it’s so many bricks, and we have to make sure that we can replace them all. Some will have to be cut, yes. We’re also incorporating everyday-found items into the bricks that will be inserted.

Found items from Berlin?

I’m perfectly happy if people walk in there and see nothing and leave again

I’m taking broken glass that I’ve found on the sidewalks outside the building and that will be used as a glaze. It brings a connection to the ground and channels the act of walking over paving. I had a great time walking around Berlin’s sidewalks recently and admiring how cobblestone meets asphalt meets concrete. There are some really special scenarios happening that I hadn’t noticed before.

What response do you want to provoke in visitors to the Klosterruine?

I don’t really want to determine that, but rather create a space for something to happen. I’m perfectly happy if people walk in there and see nothing and leave again. That’s fine.


Actually, I get that reaction a lot, and it never bothers me, so long as I’m making the work I want to. When you put work inside a museum or in a gallery you’re often told what to look at. I quite like removing those instructions, so if you wanted to, you could spend a long time walking up and down these lines. Or just eat your lunch there and leave.

  • anything, anything starts Jun 9, through Apr 27, 2025, Klosterruine