It seems to be public knowledge by now that I am the recipient of the 2022 Rumpenheim Kunstpreis Diana. It is a European, international art award. It is also the opportunity to create a location specific artwork for the Reformed Church next to the Rumpenheim Castle. It is one of the most beautiful places in Offenbach am Main. It is just steps from the ferry across the Main River and it is also set in a lovely, meticulously laid out English Park, and then the fields beyond.
It’s a very special place and I do feel a certain calmness when there.
I did not expect to be the winner of the award, but I could not resist applying, as the location is just a pleasant ride away from where we live now here in Offenbach. I do hope that the work will allow me to reconnect with the community in Rumpenheim and Offenbach. The creation of the work was full of challenges, worries and adventure. And I will write about all those later, once the equipment is back in Vienna and I am able to take a breath and reflect what has actually happened.
But right now, the work is a representation of a concept, it is the emotion behind so much, behind my work so far, the arrival in the city I thought I knew so well, the death of my mother, the reconnection with dear friends and family, so much more.
The work allowed me to understand myself better and the moment in time better, and I also hope that some of that emotion will transfer itself onto some of those who will encounter it. It is a temporary work of art. It will only survive in photographs and in memories and thoughts. It will also help to see the church in a new light, and there is no pun intended.
As we humans developed a consciousness and perhaps even before, it was clear to us that we would not be able to survive as individuals. Babies experience this and then children at various stages of their development. The feeling might be focused on one person, but if we give it some thought, it should be expanded. We need community to survive, we need others, we need the support of others, we need to be connected to them in a certain state of balance and harmony. We are completely dependent on the world around us. We would not be able to survive when separated from others, from nature, the planet, and ultimately the universe in which we are living, attached to a precious blue marble. The innocent and those who are open can experience this interconnectedness as something to marvel. It can be love, it can be happiness, it can be the awareness of the moment in which we happen to be at that very place in time.
Recently a new development has pushed our understanding of ourselves and of the world into a different place. Possibly since the industrial revolution we have began to see ourselves as machines, as parts of a machine. We are currently still being taught to produce, consume, fight, win. The more optimized the better, the faster the cheaper and the more the better. Once dehumanized and described as cogs in a greedy machine, we have begun to believe the illusion that food comes from supermarkets, electricity our of an outlet and that oil and gas are pumped to us from pipes and hoses in petrol stations. For our convenience we are shaping new materials to entertain our individual desires and to give us a sense of individualized and desirable power.
We are just now slowly discovering the price or this radical individualization and mechanization. We are racing at an incomprehensible speed towards a global climate catastrophe. Many species will and already have paid for all this with their extinction. Parts of the planet will soon be too dangerous to inhabit. Humanity itself might push towards the edge of self destruction.
The importance of places and moments in which we realize our interconnectedness and interdependence seems to return. We are beginning to understand that certain rituals are not a waste of time but incredibly important and recognized across cultures and around the globe. Many of us are beginning to understand that we are not at the pinnacle of evolution but in the midst of it. That our knowledge is limited, our understanding of what’s really around us is flawed and in dire need of exploration. And that perhaps some of the ancient wisdom is worth reflecting upon.
A church can be a place where we are able to connect to a larger idea, to the divine, the path towards something much bigger than us. As a place where community follows a certain ritual, it is a location of opportunity to be part of a group, realize that every moment has its importance, we can love, not just ourselves, others, the other, the incomprehensible. A place of worship can be the place where we realize how connected we are with the planet, its journey through space, the interconnectedness of our moments in this consciousness with the larger consciousness of the universe.
My work is the exploration of the harmony and interconnectedness through mark making and signs. By bringing one of my drawings as a light-drawing into a church I am directly asking the viewers to reconnect with the original idea that this is a valuable moment, it is a valuable place, it is a valuable experience.
The drawing is composed of light and so it changes the church temporarily. It is ephemeral, here to leave an imprint in the memory of the viewers and visitors. The drawing is created by hand, yet it is larger than life, it is projected onto the altar and in this new dimension grows to something that appears to be blood, an opening flower, the mark on the doors to protect from the angels of death.
The image is not flat. It is shaped to fit the space itself, it is respectful towards the much brighter sun, but it also brings brightness into a space usually not illuminated.
For those entering the church, the drawing will at first appear framed, then it will look flat then change shape, it will have some qualities of cave paintings and some of expressionistic or tantric mark making.
From ashes to ashes, from light to light. We are here, just now, in this one moment, part of a much larger idea, beyond ideas.
This work has even more meaning specifically in Offenbach. It is not a beautiful city, but it is one where many arrive in the hope for a better life. This is where a community exists like in very few places around the world. This is a city that is open to new ideas, has risen from a gentle presence to power after the industrial revolution. Now it is in the time after that. Shifted, in places gutted, walking courageously towards a brighter future. This is also the place where weather is observed, where climate change awareness is very clear. It’s a small model of a world that might be.
Open and Everything and Together.