Cloud Walk 10

New York City

Gerhard Lang’s first ever Cloud Walk in a city was scheduled to take place in New York in early 2013 (Cloud Walk 10). The accompanying documentation shows the first attempt made on 30 January 2013. It offers insight into several features of such a walk in an urban context.


Gerhard Lang’s previous Cloud Walks in the countryside were undertaken in rough terrain and on steep paths up mountains in order to reach the clouds (cf. Cloud Walk 3 on this website). Here, in New York, Lang marched through street canyons and mounted stairs to the roof of a skyscraper to ascend into the clouds. In both instances, Lang walked with the aid of walking sticks, carrying his equipment in a backpack, and was accompanied by at least one witness.


The location Gerhard Lang selected for Cloud Walk 10 was the MetLife Building behind Grand Central Station. The architects – who included Walter Gropius – positioned the skyscraper off the street grid and in the middle of Park Avenue. For Lang, the position of Grand Central Station and the MetLife Building is an exception that proves the rule of Manhattan's uniform grid pattern. The particular historical and aesthetic features of this skyscraper made it the most suitable location for his work.


On 30 January 2013, around 5.30 a.m., the weather service reiterated its forecast of the previous few days. This particular day appeared to offer ideal conditions for a Cloud Walk. Blustery winds were not expected until the afternoon. At 6 a.m. Gerhard Lang left his apartment at 112 Hudson Street, where he was living as a grant-holder of the Hessische Kulturstiftung, accompanied by the photographer Manfred Reiff and the sociologist Christina Lammer. By the time they arrived at the MetLife Building at 7.50 a.m., two thirds of the skyscraper were immersed in cloud. As they were climbing the stairs inside the building, the storm reached New York City, considerably earlier than estimated. When Lang, accompanied by his two witnesses and two security officers, stepped out onto the roof at 8.55 a.m., the clouds had already shifted and were only visible at a distance.


The nature of a cloud walk is like that of a cloud: it is unpredictable. So at dawn on 30 January I did not know whether the cloud walk would visibly pass through a cloud. A second walk on the MetLife Building would be just as hard to determine as the first. By contrast, Could Walk 3 in the Scottish Highlands clearly passed through a cloud.


The ephemeral essence of a cloud is reminiscent of the radical temporality of all sensorial entities occluded in a scientifically defined world outlook.

For more details on Gerhard Lang's Cloud Walks:
- Cloud Walk 3, Schiehallion, Scotland
- Cloud Walk 11, Furka Pass, Switzerland



Ill. I: On 10 December 2012, the MetLife Building was enveloped in cloud for almost the entire day. Photo: Gerhard Lang


Cloud Walk 10, 30th January 2013
Photographs: Manfred Reiff

Ill. II: Moore Street, walking towards Varick Street, 6.05 a.m.
Ill. III: West Broadway, crossing Canal Street
Ill. IV: West Broadway, corner Broome Street
Ill. V: Park Avenue South, crossing 23rd Street
Ill. VI: The MetLife Building cloaked in cloud, photographed from 33rd Street
Ill. VII: Park Avenue, corner 39th Street
Ill VIII: In front of Grand Central Station, Park Avenue, corner 42nd Street, 7.45 a.m.
Ill. IX: Entrance to Grand Central Station
Ill. X: Inside the MetLife Building
Ill. XI+XII: Climbing the stairs inside the MetLife Building
Ill. XIII: Arrival on the roof, 8.55 a.m.
Ill. XIV: The clouds had already been dispersed by turbulent winds; in the background, the Chrysler Building
Ill. XV: The clouds were now only visible in the distance. Low cloud over Lower Manhattan.
Ill. XVI: Lower and Midtown Manhattan map showing the route of Cloud Walk 10. 112 Hudson Street is marked with X, the MetLife Building with X.


Photography with the kind permission of Tishman Speyer Property, L.P. and Metro-North Railroad



Thanks to:
Lucius und Annemarie Burckhardt Stiftung
Hessische Kulturstiftung
Reinhold Engberding
Christina Lammer
JH Artist Group LLC
Metro-North Railroad
Manfred Reiff
Christian Rattemeyer
Tishman Speyer Property, L.P.
Professor Dr. Stephan Weyer-Menkhoff


Translation: Matthew Partridge




Gerhard Lang © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn