The Reconstruction of Kurt Schwitters'
MERZ Building

Now all that was needed was the ‘fine-tuning’. After months of pushing, tilting, lifting and calculating, the approximation to the camera standpoints became so close that each individual spot in the photographs could be retrospectively projected, plotted, measured and, since it was defined by more than one source, back-checked.

The subsequent work was a matter of laborious, patient realization: a reconstruction based on drawings and technical work, but also increasingly inspired by Schwitters’s own working method, which only slowly became apparent to me during the painstaking manual work executed with the aid of skilled craftsmen. 

To give an idea of the time invested: from 1981 we had one year for reflection and research and one year to translate this into three dimensions, with the fourth, time, at our heels. An obsession for which time was running out.

What was important was the regular contact with Ernst Schwitters. He was able from memory to supply many details about yet unclear spatial correspondences in the Merz Building; where colours were concerned, his help was essential.

I was moved by his enthusiasm and his faith in the success of the project (‘a dream is coming true’) and that this work restored to him, as he often asserted, the contact not just to an important object of his youth, but above all to his father.

Incidentally, the aforementioned Kurt Schwitters seemed (without wanting to offer any psychedelic theories here) to be present during this work and intent on making his presence more and more strongly felt: at first merely disruptively, in the form of ‘Schwitter-storms’[Ge/SCH/witter: untranslatable play on words, Gewitter being German for ’storm’] that broke upon us and produced trivial mistakes and divergences; then from a particular moment on (after Ernst Schwitters’s second visit to the developing Merz Building, when I felt the merest breath of a sense of a trace of hope that we would avoid a total disaster) increasingly as a helper, but as one who could not stop playing games, right up to the end.
Anecdotes abound; here is one example:

In one of the photographs, one could see the base of a Römer wine glass. Schwitters still knew perfectly well that this was green. We repeatedly searched for a correspondingly green glass, once even in the company of Schwitters, but our search was always fruitless.

Well, on the day before the opening of the exhibition in the Kunsthaus in Zurich, the glass had still not been found, and in the evening we all went to a neighbouring restaurant The Green Glass:
and there it was, or there they were, dozens of them, on every table!

- (Kilroy) - Schwitters was here......