278 km (as a letter of Nietzsche)


The Madness Letters (Wahnbriefe in German) are a series of letters sent by Friedrich Nietzsche to various different people from 3 January 1889 onward. This was the year of Nietzsche’s famous mental breakdown. His first public mental collapse occurred on 3 January 1889, while he was in Piazza Carignano near his home in Turin. Two of the people to whom the letters were addressed, Jacob Burckhardt and Franz Overbeck, were living in Basel at the time. Overbeck, alarmed by Nietzsche’s letters, travelled to Turin where he found his friend in a state of total confusion. He brought Nietzsche back to Basel where he entrusted him to the care of Dr Wille. The distance between Turin and the Swiss city is 278 km as the crow flies. In 278 km (as a letter of Nietzsche), three performers walked the 61.18 metre perimeter of the Wettsteinhof space on Claragraben 43 in Basel a total of 4544 times until they had covered the 278 km that separate Basel from Turin.  The performers took it in turn to wear the same pair of shoes. The performance took place on 18 June 2014 from 10:00 to 24:00, 19 June from 11:00 to 22:00, 20 June from 11:00 to 22:00, 21 June from 11:00 to 22:00 and 22 June from 11:00 to 20:00 over a total of 56 hours.