A lot of people hate roller coasters. Whether it’s the speed, the height or simply the anticipation of waiting for something you know is going to scare you, it’s basic human nature. Luckily in Duisburg, Germany there’s a ride with a difference. From a short walk away it appears to be abandoned, no surrounding theme park, standing isolated on a hilltop. The closer you get, the more it becomes clear – there is no theme park, because this isn’t a roller coaster.
Designed by German artists Heike Mutter and Ulrich Genth, the 21-metre-high sculptural walkway is built on top of an old mining waste tip and took eight weeks of rigorous assembly work, finishing in November 2011. Originally created as part of Duisburg’s ‘Capital of Culture’ project, the structure now remains as a pull for tourists and art enthusiasts looking to get a glimpse of a truly distinctive piece of art (or possibly to get that abstract snap to impress their Instagram followers).
By the time you’ve climbed the 249 steps to the top, you’ll find a far-reaching, sparse view over the Western Ruhr, with time to stop and savour without having to worry about the impending drop followed by two twists and a loop the loop. Predictably, visitors can’t walk the loop (a feature intended by the artist) but the lack of loop is settled when the sun goes down. Small LED lights populate the route giving the figure a luminous snake-like aura and offering a completely different experience, enhanced by walking a few hundred yards away to really soak up the apparent never ending light trail.
That’s what makes this sculpture so special, it’s a rare situation whereby everything around you suggests being mobile and on the move – the tiger, but in reality gives you the opportunity to stand still and ponder – the turtle. The artists intended the piece to instil a sense of promise and disappointment, the latter of which we just can’t quite see.