A conjured order, a utopian architecture, an art that reveals and builds upon the chance encounter of this German artist with the boundless inspiration of the desert, in southern Morocco.

Text in English (Hannsjörg Voth) ESC1-150x150 Emanuel Borja writing this text in the Marha Plain

With its endless horizons and immense skies, it has always be known that the desert is a place, so thirsty and distant from the world’s concern, that there is only room for dissolution and madness, or  isolation and prophetic revelation.

Something in Voth’s deep psychology, in his inner thoughts and the pagan religiosity of his visions, compelled him towards a territory such as the desert where he seems to have found the prophetic and ceremonial sources of his architecture and his art.

So being periodically immersed these past 17 years in the rigorous isolation of the south, he has successively given birth to his three major Moroccan projects: The « Celestial Stairs », the « Golden Spiral » and « City of Orion ». These completed projects that, unlike other works that preceded them, perhaps more technical, seem to interpret those unsuspected messages, those revealing traces of some ancient Berber civilization, buried for centuries under the sand, and that only eyes, ears or some sixth sense of an artist like Voth have managed to capture and reproduce between the infinite and anonymous resonances that cross the desert in all directions, along with the immaterial breath of  the « Djins ».

Desert sands, toil and sweat, archeology of the future. What an undertaking for an artist to create stone foundations and raise walls of mud, according to ancient techniques of the area, in such inhospitable wastelands.

With surprising determination and beauty, as the photos by Ingrid Amslinger show, Voth’s works move within these secret boundaries that mediate between art and architecture, defying classification precisely because of its hermetic ambiguity. « Beauty is difficult »-proclaimed Plato – and the truth is that almost all artists considered  great have always been trying to follow Plato’s idea to reveal and create in their works, images and symbols the perfect ideal; an ideal that has existed even before any world order, symmetry and beauty, anticipated  in the cosmos  at the moment of creation. Many have claimed that ideal but few reach it, lost in the jungle of easiness, incapable of finding in time the secret door to the maze that is human creativity.

Much has been said of the relationship of his work with the so-called « Land Art » of the sixties and seventies. I understand the reasoning, but I do not see any of that in Voth’s way of building on the landscape, not plowing it to make an imprint in the manner of the “Land” artists as if it were a huge canvas. To be convinced of this, a simple comparison of his « Golden Spiral » with the one built by Smithson on the Great Salt Lake proves that the only relation between the two is that they are in both cases a spiral.

I do wish to highlight in the work of Voth that, just as the collective utopias, after the Berlin wall’s collapse were mortally wounded and the specter of chaos flew again over international relations, this artist seems ensconced,  in the middle of the desert as the old ascetics leaving  a noble, clear and enduring consistency of his personal mythology.

Maybe in the next few centuries, when all illusions that still drive us are lost and the desert sands have covered with its mantle of oblivion, Voth’s works with everything else, some enthusiastic and tenacious archaeologist will achieve the reconstruction of some unearthed remains, astonished by the generous yet enigmatic plastic legacy left by the artist in Southern Morocco.

Emanuel Borja, 2004, Casablanca, Morocco

Translated by Jean-Noel Pettit, Irmi and Dan Feldman

 

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