Portable entryways

German artist Martin Kippenberger once proposed a subway system for the entire world, connecting Los Angeles to Helsinki, Tokyo to Rome, Münster to Dawson City. Greek islands, Canadian towns, Swiss lakes, pharaonic tombs – there would be entrances everywhere.

So Kippenberger actually began building these things – doors in the earth, leading nowhere – including this portable subway entrance.
But then he died.
The project ended.

Here are some construction specs and photo-speculative images to ponder.

So who’s up for re-starting this thing? After all, an entrance was built on the roof of the World Trade Center – but, even though the towers have been destroyed, the entrance is still there, hovering invisibly above Manhattan. It leads to an unexplored subcavern deep inside Mammoth Cave – where you’ll find a door to the Vatican. Which leads to the International Space Station. Which leads to the aerotropolis. Which connects onward to Cape Farewell, via the Cabinet Magazine National Library. Rumor has it, an Australian bone surgeon once uncovered another entrance in a patient’s rib. Eve was an entrance.

(Thanks to Brand Avenue for pointing out Kippenberger’s project to me – nearly seven months ago. And thanks to Andrew Blum for reminding me of The New Yorker cover, above, which I’ve been saving in a box of files since August 2002).

12 thoughts on “Portable entryways”

  1. I suspect there is a whole subgenre of ads with this theme, I remember one from London circa 1995 with tube entrances in the scottish highlands and I’m pretty sure there is a current NYC subway ad going with foreign views outside the subway windows. Also vaguely remember similar NYC subway entrance ads in the past…

  2. it may (or may not) be a bit interesting to your readers to note here that when I enjoyed my first encounter with bipolar disorder at Cambridge University in the spring of 1980 I laboured under just such a delusion: about the London Underground- how it could take you to anywhere in the world by just taking a few flights of stairs below to the tube station, which, after a train journey of a few minutes would take you anywhere…
    Your piece tweaked my memory. Thanks for it.

  3. I notice there’s not signage on the subway entrance into the lake. Surely a global subway system would need the same sorts of signs, lights, symbols etc. that give such character to the London Underground, or the NYC subway, or the Paris Metro?

    (Great blog, btw, and thanks – I find the stuff you put up here fascinating and stimulating.)

  4. In Phila, there is a stairwell-to-nowhere type of stairwell on 16th street, which leads to the underground parking garage (I presume!) beneath Love Park. You can see it in this Google satellite image–it is just below that triangular chunk of grass at the corner of 16th and Arch.

  5. Has anyone attempted to integrate existing city train maps over a globe? Preferably a topological one, to account for subterranean, surface rail, and elevated lines. It would make for a lovely (and perhaps even informative) three-dimensional image of transport vasculature. Arterial geology, pumping biotic flow.

  6. That’s absolutly bizarre…

    Oh look there’s a man entering my apartment right now…

    “Well hello, would you like something to drink??”

    –RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

  7. Wow, Kassel? That’s only an hour from where my parents live. I’ve been there many times and i thought i knew all documenta objects/installations in the city. I definitly need to check it out next time im there.
    Great post!

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