My wish as artist has for several years been to link my outdoor works with my interior installations. Pieces have come about that reflect man as a part of nature. Humans are not directly visible in my works, but appear in relics such as trash, footprints, etc., or in cultural associations. In the countryside I create my own spaces and take up the cultural givens of the respective region.
In my work ""ForÍt Surprise" for "Natures Urbaines" at Fontenay near Paris I looked at the City Hall park with the eyes of a child. I covered the natural color of the tree trunks (green, gray, not truly brown) with terra di siena pigment. They took on a different look - new and rounder. Children use this red-brown color when they want to paint trees. The trees form new spaces in the park and turn into art objects. The pigment is based on lime and has the added advantage that it protects the park tree from the burning sun and pests. The red-brown of the terra di siena changes our everyday visual experience. The city inhabitants are prompted to see a tree with fresh eyes.
By interventions into the landscape, some areas are underscored or new spaces are created. For my installations I use material that is available at the site. For "Milchstrasse" (Milky Way) in Franconia near Bayreuth, I took the white limestone that is found there. The new accents in the landscape - the proximity to the sky, the rocks positioned there, the spatial expanse - causes the hiker to pause and reflect.
For my work "Granit - Baum" (Granite - Tree) on the border between Austria and Bohemia, I had two native trees grow through blocks of granite. The trees' water power will completely fill the holes in the stones and eventually burst them. The stones typical for the region are granite and rock crystal. In this work I allude expressly to Adalbert Stifter (who came from here) and his book "Bergkristall". The old cultural association that exists in this Upper Austrian landscape - on the border between Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic - is thus made visible.
In East Frisia I used the black and mix-colored cow that is bred there as my art material. I allude to these black dots moving through the flat countryside when I paint additional black and white blotches onto the pasture fences. The fences attract immediate attention and subdivide the expanse of the landscape.
"in den himmel rhein" (into Rhine heaven) is an indoor installation that is a play on the German words "in den himmel rein" (going inside heaven). To get to heaven is an oft-stated but unrequited wish. I situated an idyllic Rhine inside the gallery room complete with the murmur of water and the sound of bells. The banks of the Rhine, contaminated and sterile for so many years, are again populated by mussels and no longer free of the tiniest living creatures. Despite this apparent idyll, litter is again found on the shore in the wake of passersby, just as it is also present in my installation. We destroy this landscape with our refuse; heaven (as paradise) remains unattainable. The ladders leading up to it have gaps or complete breaks in them.
In my installation "Der Grat" (the edge) I thematized the former situation at the border between East and West Germany. On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the border opening, the Federal Center for Political Education sponsored a mobile exhibition, "Kunst im Truck". The installation was mounted inside a truck that drove through ten former border towns. In the meantime, the border itself has turned "harmless". Although ten years have already passed, the borders are now mental ones found inside German minds. Whether there be prejudices or a certain amount of envy at work here, or just plain ignorance and indifference. With my installation made of lead I tried to make the sharpness of the dividing line clear and at the same time show how it can be surmounted.
"Der Grat" is composed of a lead gutter that is filled with dark volcanic ash and divides the truck into two halves. The ash stands for the cooling down of the once hot situation and, two, for the ploughed border behind the barbed wire. I made the "border" approx. 30 cm high, a height actually easy for the viewer to step over. Yet there was hesitation. The long, narrow interior of the truck, however, was sometimes so filled with visitors that they could not avoid stepping over the dividing line. They sometimes even stood simultaneously on both sides of the border, which was my intention.
My work outdoors or in landscapes is often felt by many people as superfluous. Art within nature seems to contradict nature itself. Nature doesn't need us is the usual argument. What is mostly forgotten is that we ourselves are part of nature. We will always have a share in nature, also negatively. What is important is that we do not become oblivious to nature's unspoiled state and that we thematize her destruction by man. Conceptual interventions in natural, cultural and city landscapes is one of my deepest concerns, and showing their human traces in my work another.
Translated from German by Jeanne Haunschild
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