Sunday, July 3, 2011

Symposium of sculpture in Vilsbiburg

A few days before the „Vilsbiburg Kultursommer“, which was also the reason for the presentation of artworks in shop windows throughout the city that I have already written about on my German blog here, three sculptors took up work on a vacant parking lot next to the river Vils. They had been invited to participate in the Vilsbiburg Sculptors’s Symposium, and stayed for more than a whole week, working open air with their chain saws and other large tools: Örni PoschmannPeter Frisch (couldn't find a homepage) und Michael Lauss.
I made a point of regularly stopping by – it didn’t really require a detour – and found it fascinating to watch them work. I missed a couple of days when I had to leave town to teach a workshop at Rüdesheim, but they were not entirely finished when I returned, and so I was able to see the final stages.
Of course I know from own experience what it is like to see a piece of art grow, slowly, or even in leaps and bounds. But to see it happen when somebody else was doing the work was very interesting and exciting. For one thing, all three sculptors had presented a model of what they thought they would be making. Which is not necessarily my mode of working, at least not for every piece I make, as I regularly work on quilts that grow intuitively, without a clear sketch or pre-planned design. On the other hand, it was interesting to watch how closely they stuck to their designs (or not). And thirdly, I did have the impression that the artists spent a lot of time talking to the passers by – which is after all one reason why they were working in a publically accessible place – so one must wonder when they ever did get their work done. But they did.
These were the initial designs:




These are various stages of progress:

Frisch, beginning

Frisch, wood being blackened with fire

Frisch, before raising

Lauss, beginning

Lauss, partly painted
Poschmann, working on figures

Poschmann, working on stands

Poschmann, in position, but unpainted

And this is how they looked when they were finished, at a site on the southern side of town, near the river:

Three sculptures as ensemble

A few days after they had been moved to their final destination I stood looking at them from a perspective I had not taken before – see left - when a woman whom I had never knowingly seen before stopped her bike next to me, and asked, “Well, do you like that?” in a slightly provoking tone of voice. I was quite surprised, partly because I did not know her, but more so because I had not even given a single thought to the idea that somebody might not like what they saw here! I said yes, I did like them, and immediately she set off raving about that she indeed did not, and that she thought it very inconsiderate of artists to put something up that looked like this and expected people to like it. Before I had got my reaction back she left me standing there – otherwise I might have been able to tell her that perhaps the artists had not expected her to like what they saw, but definitely to think about what they were seeing (and then, perhaps, about why they did not like it), but obviously she was not really interested in a discussion of it all.
This does not change my pleasure at the new addition to the town’s appearance – I like the sculptures, and what they are. My son is still worried about whether something is hidden in that treasure chest or not. We have to return to it and have already repeatedly looked ‘inside’ whether we can finally see something …

By the way, one of the other artists who had also shown pictures in a shop window was accosted by a passer-by while putting his pictures up and had to listen to the comment “Oh boy, that artists have to put up any kind of atrocities…”  It seems to me that this city definitely needs many more of these kinds of art-actions to broaden their horizon!

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