Folke Köbberling & Martin Kaltwasser, train station waiting room at the Locker Plant, December 2009

Folke Köbberling & Martin Kaltwasser

The Berlin-based artists Folke Köbberling and Martin Kaltwasser have been collaborators since 1998. Their projects often take the form of makeshift buildings constructed using cast-off, donated, and recycled materials. The buildings, which the artists often inhabit for a brief period upon construction, are designed as critical, adaptive responses to specific environments—usually urban ones.

For their Locker Plant exhibition the artists addressed—and attempt to redress—a perennial want in Marfa: the lack of public transportation. Using old wooden shipping containers found at Chinati and other scrap lumber, the artists built a makeshift train station waiting room in the front room of the Locker Plant. During the opening—a cold, blustery Thursday afternoon in December—visitors lounged and waited convincingly on Köbberling and Kaltwasser’s benches and studied the official travel info posted on the wall (including a schedule from the days when the Southern Pacific made multiple stops in Marfa).

The artists scheduled the opening on a day when two Amtrak trains were due to travel through Marfa. The idea was to “greet” the trains passing through town with a flag-waving procession of hopeful passengers. Could a display of pro-train fervor persuade Amtrak to make an unscheduled stop? The first train whizzed by before anyone had a chance to find out. It was a long, cold wait for the second one. Eventually word came from Alpine to the east: the train was on its way. A small crowd huddled by the tracks. Minutes passed; the wind whipped flags and scarves around. Then: around the bend came the train. The artists jumped, shouted, waved their flag. And the train? The train…shot by.

Folke Köbberling and Martin Kaltwasser live and work in Los Angeles and Berlin. Folke Köbberling studied Fine Arts at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver and received her MA from the Academy of Fine Arts (Kassel). Martin Kaltwasser studied at the Academy of Fine Arts (Nürnberg) before receiving a degree in architecture at the Technical University in Berlin. Köbberling and Kaltwasser have exhibited extensively in Germany and internationally.  Two books devoted to their work have been published by Jovis: City of resources (2006) and Hold it! (2009).