Tennessee Waltz - Text by Ivo Bonacorsi
All wet, hey, you might need to raincoat
Shakedown, dreams walking in broad daylight
Three hundred sixty five degrees . Burning down the house.
Talking Heads from the Speaking in Tongues album, 1983
The sound we hear walking into the room is the honeyed voice of Patti Page and her Tennessee Waltz. Precisely a love song with the noise of the rustle of an old record, which is obsessively repeated. A love story of abandonment from the fabulous' 50s. An age that reminds us of the Cold War in a time that does not want to become a photocopy of our past. A white noise that recalls the intense smell of fire, which consumed all these songs, that consumed all our music. The enchantment for Art as stated by conceptualism (conceptual theories) remains the same in his presence or in his absence. We stand in front of this black tracks now immersed in their ashes. Ashes to ashes sang David Bowie for an audience always ready to succumb to the charm of the ruins, and the melody of an old song. A sound installation or a visual installation? Here, the dream of zero degrees for an immediate relation with art just magically happens like in many successful pieces of Marianne Heske. It has the effect of the silences of John Cage, or is it Cage‘s silences that imitatesthe formats of Pop music?
A wink to his famous 4’33 pieces and one to Woodie Guthrie the folk singer that had a great admiration for the minimalist composer.
Nothing out of the ordinary, but art after Pop and in the era of mechanical reproduction it ends up looking like something already seen and already listened. Not this! On the floor and in the air is another disorienting and generous gesture of an artist who operates by dedicating herself to a transfer of feelings, without being sentimental. Only by simple and minimal means, and for this reason so effective. (efficient?)
The nine hundred charred vinyl records in the new installation by Marianne Heske, have the effect of Cage's prepared pianos.
She has collected them as fossil matter, rescued from a house that burned down, just as when she works with buildings and nature. A site-specific feeling brings us memories of formats that have marked many people’s lives. We are listening and watching as she (Marianne) composes memories and how they all resound together in a subliminal melody. It is a philosophical DJ set that binds the audience to the materiality of what his played by the image. We almost return to the origins of silent cinema with Heske's minimalist score. Almost like a serial music composer descending from her studio in Oscarsgate. Automatic for the People, as the title of an R.E.M album.
She invites the audience to ‘take a walk on the wild side’ with the conceptual awareness of her art. Heske has collected not only an entire collection of burned vinyls, but the memory of many other people, spaces and forms. ‘Burning down the house’, was a successful song, that came to my mind, and perhaps it was destroyed and lies in this pile?
Tennnesse Waltz is an invitation to dance a last waltz, to immerse oneself in the epiphany of Marianne Heske’s art. This is not a romantic image, against all the cliches of today practices and for the immediacy and strength of her work. Like a ‘private dancer’, Marianne Heske knows that it is necessary to leave the public in the company of their thoughts, with the aftermath of her ideas rather than with the materiality of her work.
Oslo, December 2017
Marianne Heske, text by Lee Zhenhua
It was about a half hour's afternoon walk, when I visited Marianne the first time. Her room was warm, though the sun was hidden behind the gloomy clouds outside.
Marianne explained many of her works to me, which are all touching. It might be due to all of those moments which she experienced, or the objects she found. She explores the artificialities in nature by her perspective, and puts these artificialities into an artificial space, combining them and sharing the common moment. She reproduces doll's heads in all types of materials and installs them in a public plaza in Oslo. This process of picking up artificialities from nature and returning them into prosaic, common places, is about experiencing these moments of transformation through these artificialities, and has become a characteristic of Marianne's work. She tries to eradicate the specificity of the time in which the object was manufactured, and also the duration of her action on the object, but merge both in the object itself. She transported a stone from its natural place to another part of the globe; she moved a 400 year old cabin to Centre Georges Pompidou; she reproduced doll's heads into different mediums. Marianne's art work is not a demonstration of certain art trends, furthermore, it is a private and intuitive methodology. She follows an intuitive path to create her works and uses her own concept of time to confront the delivery. Meanwhile, she is resisting the order of this world. First of all, she resists the understanding to time, secondly, the connection between human and object. These objects include artificial and natural materials, and for Marianne, they are not really distinguishable from one another. She deliberately resists explaining the world the way modern people understand it, and it releases her creations from the burden of art history, and the history of civilization.
Marianne's working method has no special art-based methodology or language, her working technique and her approach to life are the same. Art is her emotional and mental activity, her daily life and career; both a special moment of creation, and a constant mode of being. This could be the way to understand her art work, but never the only way. We can read her works via its connection with Fluxus, Conceptual Art or Live Art, but just as she desires to remove her work from a time-based mode of thinking, reading her work through these associations is limiting. Marianneâ€™s work is not built up of meaning derived from these associations. She doesn't have iconic art works, even the dollâ€™s heads, which been installed in the plaza, were ready made objects that she found and are still a part of her pick-up collection. These works that were put into public spaces, probably come closest to speaking of her intention, of combining action with social behavior.
When Marianne puts herself and these personal objects, which belongs to her, in the public sphere, how does the public react these works? Does she only discuss time and order, when she brought the cabin to Pompidou, reproducing it, and putting them together? What else does she explore? Or we could say, the different stages of her ready-made work, and the transformation of materials based on her understanding, both fit into a kind of logic which holds with an interior personal experience.
Marianne deals with the relationship between images, such as the clear connection of "Phrenologic Self-portrait" and the doll's head. She transfers her understanding of interior psychology and portraiture to her study of dolls, or to say, the image of dolls and the decomposition of skull research relates to her cognition to her own body and appearance, and to her mortal existence. How similar that "We are such stuffs as dreams are made of..." to the famous ancient Chinese allusion "Zhuang Zhou dreaming butterfly"!It is simple and natural to be touched by the way in which Marianne connects a lifetime of experiences with her work, which enables these experiences to be viewed from a new perspective. Human memory is like a montage in a movie, where people intend to sublimate objects, moments, and themselves. So, can I observe myself from the perspective of the artist? Would that doll dream of me?
Thanks to the trust that Marianne gives to me, her art works give me a certain sense beyond knowledge and information, as has Roman Signer's work. It belongs to time and personal experience, and has emotional resonance and warmth.
9th October, 2015, Zurich
MARIANNE HESKE OR THE ART OF RELOCATION, text by Nicolas Bourriaud
In 1980, after ten years of training in Paris and in London, and then at the Jan Van Eyck Academy in Maastricht, Marianne Heske returned to Norway, where she was born. In the mountains that surround Tafjord, she found a log cabin from the seventeenth century. In a completely isolated location within the overwhelming natural surroundings of the Scandinavian alps, accented by dramatic fjords cut from granite, this mountain cabin was used to store hay, and sometimes used as a makeshift shelter. Although small in scale, the cabin is composed of rough hewn logs placed one on top of the other with a stone foundation at the base; a rough framework constitutes the doorway, and the roof is covered with grass and lichen. On the inside and outside walls, the various occupants of this cabin have whittled their names, or left simple drawings, the oldest of which evoke cave paintings. In short, the cabin that Marianne Heske found, constructed from timber from the surrounding forests, seems at one with the natural surroundings. It almost seems embedded in the mountain like the pine or the birch, the glacier buttercup or the wood anémones in the crevices of the deep, winding inlets of the fjords.
All of this to arrive at this simple observation: to relocate this hut appears to be the least obvious idea. Marianne Heske’s project, selected for inclusion in the 1980 Paris biennial, nonetheless involved deconstructing this habitat, piece by piece, and transporting it to the Centre Pompidou in Paris for an exhibition. Anticipating that its users would leave multiple traces of their passage, Heske asked the Parisian visitors to add their own graffitti to the already existing markings before she dismantled the cabin and returned it to its original destination, one year later.
This project is fascinating due to its complexity: questions regarding displacement, the participation of the viewer, the notion of the readymade, are all addressed in a very original manner. Ultimately, the intricacies related to artin situare turned inside out, like a glove. Surprisingly, there is very little written about the «Project Gjerdeloa», which seems to have been drowned in the reflux of conceptual art, perceptible from the early eighties, initiated by the «Aperto» section of the Venice biennial, the triumph of postmodern painting. 1980 is a transitional year: the energy of the avant-garde and political activism loses steam. Within this ideological void, postmodernism manifested itself slowly but surely, and with it renewed faith in the image. Since 1977, a new generation of American artists (who would much later be called the «picture generation») attempted to reconcile the criticism of the avant-garde artists of the sixties with the world of «new images» from new media and video, which was becoming more widespread. Cindy Sherman, Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine and Dara Birnbaum had their first exhibitions, drawing heavily on this visual universe. The same year, Marianne Heske produced the series «All the World’s a Stage» and «Phrenologic Self Portrait», which explored the power of the video image. Phrenology, the science of the cranial landscape, constituted for Heske a psychological equivalent to her geographical investigations. Phrenology localises in the protrusions and flat areas of a human head the passions and psychological characteristics of the person in question. Heske approaches the earth in the same way as the phrenologists study skulls: in her «video paintings» from the end of the seventies and early eighties, this is the imprint which is the key. The terrestrial crust is the skin, which is read as a text in its entirety. With these works, Heske anticipated the ecologists «Gaïa theory», meaning a perception of the planet as a living being one. Phrenology and video, geography and psychology, mountains and faces are in constant dialogue in Heske’s work. Such is the fundamental intuitiveness of her work, the primal scene which will result in other works.
Was she before her time? Yes. «Project Gjerdeloa» didn’t resonate in its time the way it would much later, as it spawned numerous works based on similar ideas of displacement. Outside of Scandinavia, the renowned critic of New Realism, Pierre Restany, expressed the most enthusiasm, and continued to follow closely the development of this artist. Significantly, Restany comments strongly on Heske’s own thoughts on the subject of the exhibition at the Centre Pompidou, as noted by Per Hovdenakk: «I thought the hut would be regarded as a hut in Norway, whereas in Paris it would be seen as a manifestation of conceptual art». This is significant because it is the description of the ideological process that proceeds the project, and Restany was particularly interested in these kinds of statements of intent. Restany wrote, «Apart from the seemingly naive speculation regarding the change of scene and interpretation of an object outside its original context, the artist's attitude reveals a profound analytical capacity. Marianne Heske's gaze is the powerful creator and messenger of a vision centered on the essential relativity of perception. Her gaze is a question mark to realism itself.» Realism—touchstone of Restanian thinking. The relationship to the physical environment, and the ability of the artist to transcend it through a radical gesture, are the primary principles of his writing. The fact is that the «Project Gjerdeloa» represents a striking manifestation, an apparently simple act (displacing an object from one place to another), that could pass today as an important inaugural gesture within art history.
In art, what does this kind of displacement mean? Within the common economical discourse, Michel Henochsberg writes inNous nous sentions comme une sale espèce (We Felt Like a Dirty Kind),« the sphere of circulation is akin to the sphere of suspicion. The development of productive forces embodies the ‘good sense’ of a beneficial economy, while the area of exchanges and money houses all the irregularities and wrongdoings of an unhealthy activity, due to the excesses of certain players on this level, merchants and bankers.»Today, shortly after the collapse of the financial bubble, this tendency is again reinforced. Production represents good, while trading and its derivitaves signals the bad, the world of appearances and artifice. Within history, the merchant takes on the role of the stranger, the wanderer, the hawker who arrives from afar to intrude the community. Contemporary art, victim of this ideological prejudice, suffers from the same bad reputation: the makers of images reassure the public, while those who negotiate art, duplicate it or make a business out of it offend or annoy. Trading is an object of suspicion, as it represents an unwarranted benefit: it represents a gain, it symbolizes exploitation of the producer (capital comes from captial gains levied on the worker’s labour). Within twentieth century art, one could say that the space of exchange took precedence over that of production. Thus, when Marcel Duchamp presented a bottle rack and signed it as a work of art, the added-value here was at its maximum, because only the change in status of the object, its displacement, radically modified its value. The artist becomes similar to a merchant, and the work plays on the margins of esthetics in regards to the value of an object. Art is therefore placed on the side of commerce, on the side of negotiation with the viewer, within the context of a visual contract with the viewer. The artist produces relations to the world based on already produced objects, simply displaced by him or her within a context that constitutes the boundary of his or her work.
In 1918 Marcel Duchampcreated, based on his intuition of the aesthetics of displacement, the first soft sculpture in the history of art, the Sculptures de voyage: «These were pieces of bathing caps, in rubber, that I cut up, that I glued together, and that had no special form. At the bottom of each piece, there was a string that was attached to the four corners; one could change the length of these strings, the possible forms being limitless, that is what interested me. This game lasted three or four years, but the rubber disintegrated and disappeared.»Deployment of a flexible material in nomadic ever changing space: Duchamp had invented a new artistic concept, transport. During the sixties and seventies, which relied heavily on Duchampian innovation, displacement is organized in figures. Douglas Huebler, among the pioneers of conceptual art, created forms from experiments with displacement: «42nd Parallel» (1968), was based on mailings between various American towns situated at the location indicated by the title. Rather than produce actual objects, Huebler declared that he prefered to «establish the existence of things in terms of time or place». The artist Alighiero Boetti geographically displaced the process of producing a work by having his works created, from the beginning of the seventies, by Afghan artisans, then by Pakistanis: the relocation of the manufacturing process thereby becomes a significant element within the system of art creation. In the manner of a pilgrim, André Cadere (1934-1978) transported colored sticks of wood, which he arranged within different galeries and art institutions, in other words in locations that would not recognize these objectsa priorias works of art, places that would reject these works as foreign objects. Cadere’s approach can be summarized as a «strategy of displacement»: in 1972, invited by Harald Szeemann to Documenta in Kassel, he announced that he would travel there by foot, but in reality he took the train, thereby disrupting his own legend and triggering the wrath of the curator..
Within this historical framework of aesthetic displacement, Marianne Heske stands out as the artist who played with the map ofrealismin her choice of a historical artefact, the painstaking deconstruction of an object, the transport of this object from one country to another, and finally, the transition from utilitarian object to conceptual object. Realism, because the hut in question represents an authentic record about the way of life for a very specific group of human beings who belong to a specific place. Realism, also because its function constitutes the actual subject of the work. As a mountain shelter, the hut was occupied by individuals who inscribed the traces of their passage on the walls of the hut; later, as a work of art exhibited at the Centre Pompidou, it was seen by visitors who added their own messages to the walls of the hut. Once reintegrated in its original environment, the cabin had acquired the status of a space of encounter between two distinct populations: the mountain hikers of Tafjord, and the Parisian museum visitors . «Project Gjerdeloa» presents itself as a meeting point, as a relational work before its time. It is not only about the transition of an object from one point to another, more importantly it is about the confrontation between two human groups.
The method employed by Marianne Heske would become a popular form of expression within contemporary art in subsequent decades: to cite only two well- known examples, artists such as Simon Starling or Jens Haaning were seen to use the displacement of objects to generate forms.Yet these two artists, some twenty years later, work within a very different context, marked by economic globalization : from the beginning of the nineties, the pattern of «flow» dominated the global imagination, and it comes in many different forms, from international transport to the transfer of capital, and also including immigration, travel and the internet. The theme of voyage, that permeates Marianne Heske’s video paintings just as it does her «Project Gjerdeloa», subtly anticipates the problematics of the following decade. Yet until this point Heske was not widely known for this because she neither systematized the procedure in question, nor did she wish to fully exploit its conceptual consequences, opting to remain faithful to the ceremony of an inaugural gesture-applying a systematic gestural spirit onto the figure of the doll, as we will see later on.
Interestingly, «Shedboatshed» (2005) by Simon Starling reproduced the same circularity as what we find in «Project Gjerdeloa»: in deconstructing a wooden boat on which he traveled to Basel on the Rhine river, the Scottish artist then restores its original shape for an exhibition, before reinstalling it where he had found it. As for the Danish artist Jens Haanning, he also practices this kind of an exchange, or rather the substitution of objects, as a method of creating relationships between diverging realities. Thus a neon tube from an exhibition space in Copenhagen, reappears on the ceiling of the Luther King grocery store in Houston, Texas (Copenhagen-Texas, 1999). On another occasion, he exchanges a chair from his gallery with a chair from theKlub Diplomat, a place where foreigners gather in Copenhagen. Regular objects are thus displaced and function as reverse readymades: the manufactured object doesn’t change its status, but constitutes a twinning ; it puts two spaces in relation to one another, thus creating a space that becomes the actual form of the work, namely one space between two places, a give and take between two situations, an aspect which one finds in numerous contemporary art works. Rirkrit Tiravanija thus recreated the dimensions of his New York apartment inside the Kunstverein in Cologne, Maurizio Cattelan exhibited at the De Appel Foundation the stolen goods from a burglary that took place down the block, and Pierre Huyghe works on the distance that separates a real experience from a Hollywood fiction. The concrete representation of the distance between remote locations has become a major aspect in contemporary art, and one finds it in an unprocessed state in the «Project Gjerdeloa».
Nonetheless it is a simple doll’s head from the twenties that she accidentally came across in Paris fifty years later, that would become a central element in the work of Marianne Heske. For her, this banal and impersonal toy represented the anonymous individual in the era of mass production, and the dialectic between repetition and singularity. «Avalanche» (1993) is another powerful work that symbolises the infinite fall of bodies in a crowd, while also echoing the essence of her video works, the effect of a tiny detail of the image combined with an overall saturation of colors. The work still relates to an «extraction of the anti-body of the image» as Pierre Restany wrote. The series «Mountains of the Mind» reveals mental landscapes filtered by the effects of video, which confirms the mountain form as the exact inverse of the infinite and sudden downfall symbolised in the installations that Heske has created with the heads of dolls. Singular, overpowering blocks of solarised color, the Heskian mountains create an absolute, thus an antidote to the social pixellisation of the dolls. The installation «Avalanche» reveals color that is disseminated and defracted, whereas the filmed mountains in video form affirm the concentrated color, pushed to the limit. The individual, in order to resist social serialization, must become a rocky peak, a solid mass.
As far as the artist is concerned, she presents herself as this miniscule habitat, in the heights of Tafjord, which puts into play a give and take between these two worlds.
Marianne Heske and Jon Fosse interviewed by Hans-Ulrich Obrist
Hans-Ulrich: First of all, thank you very much for making yourselves available to do this telephone conversation. I'm very interested in this dialogue between the two of you. I've been reading an account of your two works and it made me wonder how your dialogue started.
Marianne: I think our dialogue started because we share a similar background. We both come from fjords, from remote villages where we have experienced the isolated farms along the fjords. There is something very unique about the houses in the region where we both grew up. We have both made observations about the people living in the loneliness of these houses, their search for happiness, you know, and their sorrows and life and death and how life goes on generation after generation. I think we have something in common there.
Hans-Ulrich: Jon could you maybe comment on that?
Jon: I agree with Marianne. I think it's very significant to grow up in such a landscape as the Norwegian fjords. The natural surroundings are quite impressive, and perhaps as a result, the way people act towards one another is somewhat strange. People from that region of Norway are not very talkative, and all over the western part of Norway they use a lot of irony. People never say what they really mean, only something close to it.
Marianne: I use words more metaphorically, and then I experience that people try to translate the metaphors. In our work we both use this 'non-spoken fjord language' which is really difficult to translate.
Hans-Ulrich: And how did you actually meet? When did you start talking? Can you tell me about that?
Marianne: Meeting is not necessarily about talking, but I called Jon because I had been thinking about it for years. We were supposed to have a project together about ten years ago. I don't know if you remember that Jon. I was preparing for an exhibition but ended up not being able to do it. But also I was thinking about contacting him because I recognized myself in his work. So I contacted him, and that was only one week ago. We had a nice meeting and he generously proposed his piece called 'Freedom' for this book. So, this book includes a kind of premiere of this piece.
Jon: Of course I have known Marianne's work for years, but I don't think we had met before we met a week ago. So I'm happy because of that Marianne.
Marianne: Yes, I'm very happy as well. Hans-Ulrich, do you know what we were discussing for a long time? We both have boats where we can observe what is happening on the land. I think we have something in common there too.
Jon: Oh yes that might well be. I love to sail with my boat along the western coast of Norway.
Hans-Ulrich: I think that's very interesting. The question I want to ask you is about the studio, because obviously ever since the '60s there has been a lot of talk about post-studio practice and artistic practice no longer being bound to a studio. It is interesting that you talk about both of you having boats. In the context of post-studio practice, I would like to know your thoughts on the boat as studio; because I met some years ago the late architect Ralph Erskine. You know, he was one of the key members of the Team 10 of architects. He came from England and had immigrated to Sweden very early in the 20th century, and he had his architecture office on a boat. During the summer he would always work on the boat with all his assistants, and they drew buildings on that boat and they went wherever they were needed. So, talking about travel, about the house, about your boats, what is the importance of the studio and where is the place you most prefer to work?
Marianne: Well, speaking for myself first, I think I create all my works while on the move, while travelling. That of course is connected with my background, my childhood. We moved back and forth between two houses, one on the fjord and one out by the coast. So we travelled by boat and car. During this time I observed so many houses and made observations about the people who lived in them. Since then, I started to move houses myself. First I moved a very old log cabin from Tafjord, a small village on the fjord, to Centre Pompidou in Paris. The house is an empty container, but still a house made of timber. The only traces of people in the house are the inscriptions on the timber walls that show the lives of people passing by. From that point on I continued to move houses. For example, the project 'Voyage Pittoresque' was a video installation, a kind of tent-like house that was moved around in Scandinavia and in Europe. Basically it was a 'travelling video installation' in a tent. After that I moved around two ice houses. The same thing goes for the houses I built on the Wilhelm Reich orgone theory, which were related to the idea of energy in containers in the form of houses. In my approach I sought to question concepts about inside-outside, internal-external, and vice-versa. Of course, the project was also about moving something non-concrete, like temperature.Â So, the project was not so much about the houses as such. I was interested in moving non-tactile things. In a sense, I was moving illusions. My interest in houses, or shelters, continues through my most recent house in Oslo, and Hans-Ulrich, you were the person who really pushed me to take the initiative with the Norwegian building company Selvaag, who provided me with an actual house to embody the dolls and their mind-projections.
I also included a human skull in the project, and a life-size bronze bust of the doll's head, which is the archetype for all the other dolls in my work. The metaphor of a doll or a marionette is the oldest symbol in mankind, mirroring the human being. Of course, the skull represents reality, and the bronze bust is inscribed with human faculties that are projected by scientists about the human mind. So basically it's all about illusions, projections and the force of mankind expressed in a playful way. It changes all the time and still you have this outside house, that outside body. So I think Jon is interested in some of the same ideas in his work. I saw his piece last week called 'Svevn' in Norwegian, 'Sommeil' in French and 'Sleep' in English. The play is about a flat where people move in and out through different generations. It's about life and death.
Jon: For me writing in itself is a form of travel. When I'm writing I enter the unknown. So for me it's very important not to travel when I'm writing. I have tried it and it's impossible. Some years ago I was on the road a lot, over half the year, going to performances here and there. I tried to write during travelling but it just doesn't work. I don't get the concentration I need. It becomes too much for me. I have a cottage north of Bergen, an old fragile building, not what one would call a beautiful place, but I have an empty room with a sweeping view of the fjord, and I have done most of my writing in later years in this cottage. The state I enter when I am on my boat along the beautiful coastline is quite close to the state I enter also when I'm writing. So doing both at the same time would be too much for me. I get confused and nervous by it.
Hans-Ulrich: I found it interesting that Marianne mentioned the presence of the house in your work. Could you tell me about the link between writing and architecture, and how writing and space are related?
Jon: For sure they are related. It is at least obvious when writing for the theatre. I've been living and writing in different houses over the years and I've experienced that in some houses I just cannot write. For instance, I had a house here in Bergen for several years and there were quite a few rooms in that house. Â I tried to write in each and every room but it was completely impossible to write in that house. I can't explain it but for me it is so. But now, in a tiny little cottage I manage to write very well and I think it has to do with a sense of security or shelter that is necessary for writing. A house can both give you shelter and inspire you to write, but one needs some kind of protection from the house to be able to write. My experience is that an old house can either be a perfect place for writing or it can be impossible to write there. I'm living in a new flat right now. It's an okay place for writing, quite good in fact. I don't know how to explain it but I just know it. So it is.
Marianne: It's funny because for me it's completely the opposite. I've had different ideas sometimes when I'm driving through landscapes or sitting on an airplane on the way to New York for instance. I like spacious, non-limiting surroundings where I can observe what is going on around me. But I need to be alone.
Jon: I need to make my surroundings smaller. I prefer a small and empty room for writing if possible. More like a cave in a way.
Hans-Ulrich: I wonder if there might be something relevant in terms of the importance of the house and the very basics of a form of shelter, the manner of living in both of your works. I wonder if this might have to do with a certain intensity of the experience as it relates to the here and now.Â There have been a lot of cliches out there about this idea, particularly related to Strindberg and all that. But still I think the anti-idea of the cliches is an interesting digression here, and one that relates to this very important notion of intensity of experience. Could you talk a little bit about this?
Marianne: I can definitely say something about that in relation to my experience of Jon's work. You cannot compare his work to the cliches about this Nordic image. I think that Jon and I each have our own personal way of approaching this issue. We share a very rare experience that is hard for non-Norwegians to understand. The unique experience Jon and I share from having lived by the fjord and having experienced the loneliness of those isolated houses has provided us with special insight. In our work, we reveal the small glowing points of life that you might see from the boat. Scattered inhabitation like this is so rare. I don't think Strindberg ever experienced anything like that. Not Munch either because, as far as I know, they were never there. Ibsen has written a little about this in his plays about the loneliness of people living in very isolated places and thinking that their little community is the whole world. So it's a very intimate and at the same time universal topic.
Jon: In my writing the house plays a very important part. The house as a motif and different scenes connected to the house "looking out the window for instance, looking at the fjords. It's a basic motif. In the play Marianne mentioned, Sleep, it's the flat that somehow talks. In a short novel that I wrote, Das ist Alise, first published in Germany, there's an old house that may well be located in the western part of Norway which somehow tells the story not as a house but through its persons. It's very hard to understand why some motifs are so crucial in one's own writing. Of course it's very easy to imagine that it has to do with the bad weather around here and the importance of shelter. But of course it isn't that simple.
Hans-Ulrich: In both of your works there is this moment of dialogue that happens, like in Jon's work there is this very intense dialogue. It might be someone like Claude Ragy and there is obviously a big difference between that and the activity of writing because you're first of all a novelist and a writer. I always thought of writing as an authoritative activity. And the same question I would like to ask of Marianne is how you relate on the one hand, to it being an authoritative activity and it being a dialogue. What about the notion of collaboration in both of your practices?
Jon: Of course writing is a very lonely thing, and it ought to be. When I started to write for the theatre it was a really great experience for me to be taken out of this loneliness and to be able to share art with someone else. It wasn't at all painful to see my work done on the stage. It was a great relief. If it's a good production I don't feel at all that my writing is weakened or anything, on the contrary, it becomes stronger. For instance this production of Ragy in Paris is strong in its interpretation, the director's voice is quite present. At the same time it is completely loyal to my writing. My plays can be done in many different ways of course but if it's a great production it's a great common experience in art and of art. It becomes dialogue on each and every level. To me the best metaphor for writing is listening and I think a great director is also basically listening, to the text, to the actors, in order to make something that is not himself. Basically writing for me is an act of listening and when you are listening you are of naturally in a kind of dialogue.
Marianne: I feel the same as you more or less. I also feel like an observer and that is very lonely because I observe in silence, yet after a while I would like to share my observations and to be creative and contribute something to the world even though I know this sounds very, you know, naive. Most of my art is interactive, like walking in and out of the houses, like the ice houses in Sao Paulo and in Atlanta, the orgone houses in Dusseldorf and Berlin, and walking in and out of the house at Centre Pompidou and touching the walls. It feels very lonely to have these ideas and to express them publicly, but it's all about sharing and observing.
Hans-Ulrich: Earlier you mentioned this notion of direct engagement with the work. How much do you think the viewer does? Is it half? Is it more? And Jon, you have talked about these intense 'Olympian' moments. Even if they are inexplicable there are moments of entente, moments of responding between the public and the author, and as you write beautifully in your text that there are moments when the author and the public experience something together that makes them both understand something they did not understand before.
Jon: Of course if you are working with theatre you will soon learn that the performance can change a lot from one night to another and to a large degree this has to do with the audience. Different audiences somehow change the spirit of everything. How important this is depends on the production. If there is a very strict production, as for instance the productions of Ragy, the audience doesn't influence it that much I would say. But if you have a less strictly structured production the audience can change the meaning of it, they can turn a very tragic moment into a comical moment. That's a very strange thing. My writing is a kind of tragi-comical writing. One night a moment can be a very funny moment, another night a very sad moment. This has to do with the audience and the interaction between the performers and the audience.
Marianne: What you are saying now is really the essence of my art. Because it's about how it's interpreted. How it's perceived. It's incredible how people can interpret things also as you say in a completely opposite way. We all project so many different things onto the work. My little doll's head for instance is all about projections and illusions. So I leave it open for people to project their own illusions onto it. In the same way, the houses I move around are also about people being free to interpret them, which they invariably do. I don't want to put any limits on it. And maybe that is why my works are timeless. It's about perceptions. My last house, 'A Doll's House', was also about projections and how people perceive these projections. It's a never-ending circle.
Hans-Ulrich: Can you tell me about projects that have yet to be realized, projects you haven't had the time to do, and projects that might never be realized?
Jon: I want to go back and write more prose, and perhaps write one more really long novel. Right now I'm writing so much for the theatre that I haven't had time for it for years and I don't know when I will find time for it. But a long period with slow concentration for writing "that's a hope and a wish."
Hans-Ulrich: Is there any kind of unwritten novel you have thought of and haven't written yet?
Jon: I don't write like that. I have to have an empty mind when I sit down and then the writing just happens. I don't plan in advance.
Marianne: Neither do I, I let it happen by itself and the house that stands in Oslo is a typical example of this. It just happened after our discussion, Hans-Ulrich. Suddenly the house is there. It's filled not only with dolls "there aren't as many dolls as I thought there should be. Instead I've filled it with projections that symbolize all kinds of human emotions like desire, hope, fear and happiness, all these constantly changing mental states that are found in the walls of every house. As you say Jon, some houses you can write in and other houses you can't write in, so I think you would have difficulties writing in this house in Oslo with all the projections. It would be very disturbing. At the same time the skull is there and the bronze bust, which represents eternity. It's very important to have the bronze bust. But the skull is there next to it so it's about the projections and the mental states. I think I would like to continue to work with projections and the ever-changing mental states of human beings and maybe also to express and symbolize that with the dolls. I'm really into mental states but also like Jon I don't plan too much what I would like to do ahead of time, it just happens. I always focus on being in the moment.
Hans-Ulrich: There are just a few more questions I would like to ask. One question relates to the houses and about life and death, because obviously this idea of a house is always related to life but also death. Also, I wonder if you could both comment a little bit about the importance of memory. It's interesting to consider that our conversation this morning would not have happened without Pierre Restany, who, shortly before he died, suggested that Marianne and I should have this conversation. You could say we are having this conversation this morning in memory of Pierre Restany.
Marianne: I would say that we exist in a dance between life and death, desperately searching for the 'truth', and this is a masked drama because we don't know what it's about. But we are dancing and it's behind the mask.
Jon: I think the house as a motif in my writing has a lot to do with death. For instance, in a play like Someone Is Going To Come, when someone enters the house they are entering a place of shelter and love but they are also somehow entering death. It's hard to explain. In a good production like Ragy's this becomes obvious. But to explain it and say too much about it is difficult. It is just so.
Hans-Ulrich: Now one last question about minimalism. Quoting from an interview in Abend, which I read in 2003, Claude Ragy said: 'I always react to the term minimalist. Few authors have been able to infuse so much complexity in so few words as Jon Fosse has been able to do. In fact he is not at all minimalist. His work is completely full. What is actually minimalist is the number of syllables, the fact that there are short lines often interrupted, indicated by the duration of the silence, the rhythm, the writing.' So this whole idea of your work being minimalist and yet being full seems to relate to the houses in some way. Could you both comment on full minimalism?
Jon: It's an interesting concept. It's the first time I've heard this way of looking at it and at least for my writing it's a good description. It is a kind of full minimalism.
Marianne: It's also a good description of my work because I have few words. That is only the wrapping. And what Hans-Ulrich is saying that even though the wrapping is very minimalistic it's so full and to me, similar to a small project like the installation of the dolls, it looks so simple because all the dolls look the same. But still it's so full that it demands a lot for the public to understand it fully and also these houses that I move around look more like tents, like houses, but still they are full even if they're empty.
Hans-Ulrich: Jon, Claude Ragy says that you use very few elements but at the same time create something very rich with them. Would you say then that it's about repetition?
Jon: Of course it has to do with that. But it is also about using the silence; it has to do with making the silence talk. If you compare let's say Racine to Shakespeare, you will see that Racine uses quite a few words in comparison to Shakespeare. But, at least to me, in his play Phedre he is saying as much as Shakespeare is saying. So it's basically just two attitudes to writing, and both have to do with making silence speak. It's about using words but letting the silence say the rest.
Marianne: Shakespeare has famously written: 'All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players.'
Jon: Basically I think there are two different attitudes to writing: for instance, the maximalism of Joyce and the minimalism of Beckett.
Hans-Ulrich: Well I think that's a great conclusion so I thank you both very much for taking the time for this conversation.
Marianne: Thank you.
Jon: Thank you.
Ice Towers, Sao Paulo Bienal 1996, text by Pierre Restany
The Ice Towers of Energy
With Ice Towers, which she exhibits at the Bienal de Sao Paulo, Marianne Heske retrieves the tradition of domestic nomadism. It is a tradition she inaugurated in 1980 at the Biennale de Paris, which took place at the Centre Georges Pompidou, where she had reassembled her Tafjord hut, Tafjord being a small and isolated village located on the western coast of Norway. The Tafjord hut (Project Gjerdeloa) was a real wooden hut made of wood and stones with a roof made up covered with vegetation. It served as shelter for visitors and farmers and belonged to a farmer who finally agreed to lend it to Marianne for a year. And so the hut, piece by piece, was disassembled and taken to Paris, were it was rebuilt of wooden planks according to its original design. At its sides two TV sets - witnesses - were placed; the first one to register the spectators and the second showing the hut in its original environment in the mountains. Exactly one year later Marianne transported the hut from Paris back to its native setting as she had promised the owner. To the immemorial graffiti produced in the Norwegian land the hut added Parisian graffiti deriving from a metropolitan culture.
This is how I first came in contact with the striking personality of this young Norwegian who knew how, in such an imperative way, to put technology at the service of nature; this proposal goes beyond a technology of transportation, it gives room to the reinstitution of natural phenomena. In reality, this is the real core of the issue, it is within this relationship between technology and nature that Marianne Heske's work is rooted. With her movements, her excursions, her walks, the artist does not leave behind her video camera. The camera is her third eye, the technical extension of her perceptive sensibility. I vividly remember her landscapes, impressions registered on canvases made up of enlargements of video photograph which had registered the emergence of lava in a volcanic eruption. Based on the photographic document all the development procedures, ranging from the format of the work to the choice to the colours for the printer, were carried out by computers. The flamboyance of reds and oranges of the lava thus extended the objectivity of the vision to the point of the Incandescent, in a process similar to a piece of iron warmed up by the blacksmith until it becomes white. Parallel to the fixed image, Marianne Heske developed a video dialogue which became a part of a "voyage pictures- que", this is the name given by Swiss climbers to their exploits in the late 19th century. The Norwegian artist has never given up this visual nomadism, this addiction to travelling. To speak about travel is to refer to crowds. A tangible metaphor expresses this quantitative awareness of the human context: the uniform mass, a sea made up of balls, the heads of glass dolls. For Marianne the nomenon encompasses the dual particularities. According to Arman, a head and a thousand heads are two different things, but quantitative pheaddition of indivithe relationship established between part and totality does not destroy the starting point, the initial identity. The artist is perfectly aware of this. She has often said that since 1971, in Paris, she has been obsessed by dolls heads, by their bulging eyes and rosebud mouths, to the point of making huge photographic enlargements of them which turn the galaxy from its milky way. Marianne Heske's "voyage picturesque" takes place beyond her native mountains, in the sky and, as it is to be expected, beyond the sky. It is undoubtedly the privilege of Norway's mountains to produce this promiscuity with infinity.
All Marianne Heske's travels have a common denominator which is the space of communication. If the artist tries with her work to reconstitute the essence of this addiction to travel, it is to stimulate to the utmost the space of a privileged communication. This is her way of speaking to others, to speak to men and to register their answer. The Ice Towers in Sao Paulo constitute the last stage of a long travel within the universe of warmth and coldness, the hinterland which took them from Atlanta, USA, to Lillehammer in Norway by way of Barcelona and Munich. The principle is simple and dean (in accordance with the authors purposes). They are constituted by two towers measuring 80x100x200cm. The left tower whose roof is covered with a red glass disk has its inner side covered by a layer of frozen snow. Inside, the panelled wails warm the room, lightened by the red rays of light coming from the roof. The second tower, the one on the right, is covered with dark wooden panels on the outside and frozen snow on the floor on the inside. The atmosphere is cold and the cold feeling is enhanced by blue light coming from the round glass disk placed over the roof. Taking into consideration the size of both Towers it is surprising that only one person at a time can get inside them. The platform on which the two huts are placed is made up of the black-and white tiles typical of the sidewalks of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. The mosaic pattern is equivalent to that of the dolls and the synthetic profile of the whole image recalls the numbered landscapes of the eruptions and snow slides so dearly loved by the artist. The delimited space on the ground presents itself as if it were a ghostly metaphor of humanity. The audience integrates itself in a natural manner in this world-shadow to which it belongs. He experiences the sensation of the communication of warm-cold dialectic as if it were existential rite in which he plays the part of the individual caught in the ensemble. In the conjugation of their declinations the ancient Greeks had addressed an analogue syntax situation: the accusative of relation. The ambition of Mariannne Heske's travelling is unveiled to us step by step in all its dimension. Communication becomes an existential global phenomenon that reaches beyond the egocentric terms of simple dialogue in order to project men into the void space filled up with universal energy. Her sensitivity is but a small particle of the cosmic energy but it has the intuitive power of attaining the whole starting from the part and to assume it as if it were a totality. It is then, as the carrier of energy, that man, aware of his relationship with nature, reaches the universal meaning, that is to say, reaches the peak of his freedom.
This is the basic lesson which Marianne Heske has taught us at the end of her voyage picturesque, a place where the encounter between nature and technology happens under the sign of cosmic energy. Thus we enter the sublime domain of Yves Klein's Void, this Vide Plein within which glow the two fires of alchemy: the fire which burns and the fire which glows. The Ice Towers are among the most powerful and vital contemporary manifestations. It is not by chance that Marianne Heske has at the same time embarked upon the adventure of the Oregon Houses, a homage to Wilhem Reich, the last of the great modem Prometheus's, at the great recycle of vital energy.
Paris, March 1996
Voyage Pittoresque, text by Pierre Restany
SEEING: AN ACTIVE AND DISQUIETING CULTURE
Here is an artist who comes from the cold and returns willingly to it, if only to bring back picturesque landscapes of her native Norwegian west coast.
Marianne Heske thus joins realist traditon of painters working on the "motif" from nature. But the recording material that she carries with her on her travels is not traditional. It is no longer the paint box, brushes and easel, but the video camera.
Her original views recorded on magnetic tape are later translated and electronically defined. The result of this chromatic and formal manipulation is then photographed. The final negative thus obtained is enlarged and painted on canvas with the aid of a computer-operated painting machine.
The sublime views of Tafjord, of Romsdalshorn, or again, of the timbered church of Urnes amaze and move us with their stirring screen texture and the sumpters intensity of their colours ablaze like lava flows.
They are the product of an extremely elaborate technique, and constitute spearhead images of our visual modernity.
In her "voyage Pittoresque" sequence Marianne Heske has replaced traditional paint-brushes with video photography. But what she also assumes here, in relation to the entire history of painting, is the permanency of the artist's vision.
A vision both analythical and comprehensive: a phenomenon of intuitive sensibility, but also of cultural identity.
It is clearly Marianne Heske's vision that picks out the picturesque elements in her at once exploratory and introspective journey. But this vision is the expression of a culture based on her experiences in life and therefore upon the practice of existential relativity.
In 1980, on the occasion of the X1 Paris Biennale, Marianne Heske undertook the transport of a shepherd's hut from Norway to the Centre Pompidou. This wooden hut, traditionally used for storing hay and for shelter, was dismantled on the spot, reassembled in Paris and then put back on its site one year later. Interviewed by Per Hovdenakk (1) on the meaning behind this project, the artist's reply is significant: "I thought the hut would be regarded as a hut in Norway, whereas in Paris it would be seen as a manifestation of conceptual art".
Apart from the seemingly naive speculation regarding the change of scene and interpretation of an object outside its original context, the artist's attitude reveals a profound analytical capacity. Marianne Heske's gaze is the powerful creator and messenger of a vision centered on the essential relativity of perception. Her gaze is a questionmark to realism itself.
Reality changes with climate, latitude, background and culture; and it is the interaction between realism and fantasy, object and subject which constitutes the law of seeing.
For Marianne Heske this is where the essential question of art is located, as she has defined it in her earlier works: "Works & Notes", (the journey of a doll's head through different sociological situations - Maastricht, 1978) or the "Video Dialogues" of 1984 (the concept of art: a tape measure or an elastic band?).
A question without an answer, because it calls for no answer. What is art? To ask that question today is equivalent to asking about the nature of transcendency. What is God? One can make art with anything just as one can find God anywhere. Art and God are a question of faith, that is of identity and hence, finally, of relativity.
The mastery of a craft does not account for the presence of art any more than the respect for a religious rite accounts for the presence of God. That is certainly what Edvard Munch thought in his innermost self and it has given his painting the defective expression of the scream, beyond the drama of existences (2). The relative perception of reality is translated today by Marianne Heske into the poetic splendour of her paintings.
Having pitilessly proclaimed this relativity, the Norwegian artist takes it up in the definition of her own visual reality: a highly personalized image born out of the inner fusion of electronic technology and of life experience. That is the picturesque dimension of her journey. And that is also the quintessence of her vision: an active and disquieting culture.
March 15th 1986
(l) In "Project Gjerdeloa" Marianne Heske, Universitetsforlaget, Oslo, 1984.
(2) On December 6th 1985 I had the occasion of visiting a major Munch retrospective exhibition at the Palazzo Reale in Milan with Marianne Heske. That experience was a revelation to me of this Nordic and Lutheran way of looking: The realism in his dramatic personification or the figure (or landscape) exacts from the image its anti-body, its diluted identity.
Power Stations, text by Kim Levin
Marianne Heske discovered the dolls in 1971 in Paris, in the mar- che aux puces at Porte de Montreuil. "In Paris I found a box of dolls in the flea market, a box completely full with the same head, all lying there looking the same, looking at me. So I bought the whole box. I brought it home and started to works."
Heske, after graduating from Bergen Kunsthåndverksskole, had left Norway to live as an expatriot. All through the it's she lived away from her homeland. First she had gone to Czechoslovakia for several months, and there, behind the iron Curtain, she discovered Land Art, which was being made by Czech artists who didn't have access to ordinary art materials because they didn't conform to the dictates of Soviet society or to official artists' union, and whose motivation, social involvement, and risk, therefore, was somewhat different from that of artists doing Earthworks in the West. In Norway, the concept of Land Art did not yet exist, Remarks Heske On the irony Of an artist from a benign socialist society being initiated into a new metier by dissident artists in a malign one, ''It's also about being a provincial artist, about being on the margins of Europe."
Then she went to live in Paris, The box in the flea market contained only the doll heads: pouting papier mache heads from the Flapper Era, with baby-doll faces, pencil-thin eyebrows, and rosebud lips. Some of them had blue eyes, Others had broken eyes. Some had a painted tear rolling down a rouged cheek. Are they the heads of the legendary Kewpie dolls? It doesn't matter, Heske liked them because ''they all looked the same, all playing their role. And because dolls are a mirror of society."
The dolls entered her art, becoming familiar companions and collaborators in foreign lands. The actual flea-market heads appear in her wall boxes of the '7Os, lined up in rows, surrounded by offset or collagen images of themselves, or combined with drawings of skulls, anatomical illustrations of heads, physiognomy charts, or phrenology diagrams. The heads also appear in her prints, their images multiplied, replicated, and reduced to the point where thousands of them crowd the surface like pebbles on the ground. Conflating person and landscape as well as individual and crowd, they recede to a far horizon or tumble into the foreground like an avalanche - the human visage reduced to an object, a dot, a landscape element, a conforming mass. Heske had started out as a graphic artist, and in one of her earliest etchings, made before she discovered the dolls, the germ of all her subsequent imagery can be found: houses, rocks, machinery, and accumulations of small identical figures.
In Heske's audio, video, and photo pieces Of the '70s, the dolls come to life, enlarged into theatrical masks, used as actors. For an early work from 1973 titled False Face Society Mask, the artist traveled around Europe photographing all kinds of people - news vendors, bus driver, sailors, children, ancient woman, Sikh-holding and interacting with the doll head. The piece, which consisted of one hundred slides, was accompanied by a tape loop on which a multitude of different voices in an overlaid mix intoned a cascade of conflicting dualities (such as dominant/humble, glamorous/ugly, inspiring /tedious, equilibrium/discord). Later, the doll-head mask, worn by real people, provided unsettling imagery in photo and video installations.
Heske also created cast plaster medaillions and monumental versions of the doll heads in plaster or bronze, ''like a big serious bust", using them in installations interspersed with classical busts. And now, in 1993, after a long hiatus during which she gave the dolls a rest, 1001 identical handcast heads are being replicated in crystal, each with a small individual chunk of colored glass embedded deep within its brain. Fracture lines within these crystal heads, which will populate her newest installation, echo the divisions on the old phrenology diagrams in her earlier works.
In 1976 Heske moved from Paris to London, where she studied video at the Royal College of Art for a year After that, she lived in Holland until 1979. The last thing she did before leaving Holland was to issue a postcard to thank the dolls, acknowledging their role in her work. ''The artist owes a deeper debt to the lifeless nonentities who have honoured her with their friendship and served her with patience,'' it read. ''They couldn't play in Norway. There was no stage for them there then," she explains. In the fall of 1979, when she went back to Norway, she stopped using the doll, which had reflected her own role and identity as an artist.
''The first thing I did when I came home was to move this old house from Norway to Paris. This old wooden house, the most Norwegian thing you can imagine from up in the mountains. The house was in Tafjord, a small isolated village on the west coast of Norway where Heske had spent part of her childhood, because hydroelectric power stations were being built in the mountains there, and her father was directing the construction of the dams and tunnels. "I use this village as a kind Of source. Everything is there - nature, people, society - a microsociety in a microworld.''
The house, little more than a crude log shed - crowned by a roof of grass and bark, scarred by centuries of graffiti (the oldest is dated 1687) carved into its wood by travelers and shepherds - was a way-station between two mountain farms. It was used for shelter and for storing hay in the winter.
"I just asked the farmer to borrow it for one year. I had known him since I was a child. '1 think you are crazy,' he said. I repeated the question. 'If you peel my potatoes we can talk about it,' he said. I peeled I don't know how many kilos of potatoes. 'Why don't you paint this house if you like it so much or take a photo- graph of it,' he said. And then he agreed, '' With the help of the villagers, Heske transported it the old-fashioned way, not to be archaic but because, in 1980, there was no road to Tafjord. They dragged it piece by piece by cables, with logs and rope, and then took it by ferryboat across the fjord. ''If these people knew what Land Art was, it would have been Land art's remarks Heske. ''But they didn't so it was just moving a house. To me, some of the Land Art projects are so superficial."
She recorded the sounds of the cable. She dug turf to take along in order to re-cover the roof, and took stones to prop up one side because the house had been built on a steep slope. Then she drove to Paris with the logs, earth, and rocks packed into her van. The house was exhibited at the 1980 Bienale de Paris in a special room at the Pompidou Centre, with a gateway made of two video monitors: the real-time images on the first were of the viewers in the exhibition area as they walked around. The house, on the second monitor was the house's other reality - situated on its original slope in Tafjord, with nothing moving but the sunlight and clouds. An English newspaper compared the project in Paris to Kon-Tiki resting high and dry in an Oslo museum, Back in Norway, a headline proclaimed, ''Culture Shock in Paris." Says Heske: ''People thought it was made of plastic and they thought it was constructed especially for the exhibition. The grass was growing like mad, The roof thought the gallery light was summer's To the Minimal and Conceptual real-time systems that propelled American Land Art projects, Heske added the paradoxical confusions of a real-life object from a real place, taken out of context, decontextualized and recontextualized.
Exactly one year later the artist transported the house back to its original site and reconstructed it. The only change was that more graffiti had been added to its walls, proof of its jersey, by French, Japanese, and Arab visitors to the Pompidou Centre, and by Pontus Hulten, then director of the Pompidou Centre. Now, says Heske, people go to Tafjord to see the house. ''It's not art any more. It's only in the people's minds. You can't see that it has been to Pais." Last winter almost an avalanche destroyed the roof.
"I like moving things, bringing things, displacing things, ex- changing things,'' comments Heske. During the '8Os she focused on the mountains. In Venice in 1986 she showed huge video paintings of Norwegian mountains that looked like solarized abstractions or infra-red moonscapes, though they were actually recorded straight from nature by Heske, on skis, with a hand- held video camera. Invited to participate in an art and science expedition to Northeast Siberia in the summer of 1992, she took with her a rock from a Norwegian mountain, a rock that had come down in an avalanche, planning to leave it in Siberia. The Russian scientists in Siberia worried that the displaced rock from Norway's Caledonian mountain chain would cause scientific chaos if it was found by some scientist in Siberia. The Siberians also gave her a local crystal stone that had been brought to the scientific station by nomads. She plans to place this at the site of an avalanche in Tafjord, ''an exchange from the other side of the world, a transformation like in a fairytale.''
Recently, Heske has worked with greatly enlarged blow-ups of microcosmic details of an avalanche - a rolling chaos of stones, snow, earth, and trees, a sliding entropic mass. She burns the video computer images onto sandblasted metal or onto silk. In Paris in 1991, she exhibited a silkscreen video avalanche piece titled Tunnel.. burned onto enameled steel. It was framed with lead and backed by electrical coils that radiated infra-red heat. "So the picture is very hot inside the frame. Outside the frame, the jagged pieces are cold. People didn't understand where the heat was coming from when they entered the room." At the Porin Museum of Modern Art in Finland in August 1992, she showed multi-panel avalanches on brass, aluminium, and titanium back- ed by the warmth of fuzzy sheep wool, Despite the vast scale and huge distance, her video imagery of mountains seemed deceptively microcosmic; her microcosmic close-ups of avalanches resemble gestural abstraction, with the natural elements masquerading as brushstrokes.
Heske explains her ''petrified'' video process in terms of heat and cold, and psychology. "I record these avalanches with video. The video permits me to freeze the image, I stop it on the screen. I freeze the frozen moments. Video is thousands of points of light burnt on to magnetic tape. Points are the language of video and the language of snow. And a video still is a frozen picture. I transfer this image to metal plates via laser and computer, and the plates are also thousands of dots, Then I burn it at very high temperature which makes it very strong. If's cold, warm, cold, warm. I like this feeling of temperature, radiation, movement, besides the visual thing. There are many kinds of avalanches. The avalanche is something that happens when there's too much of something. Everything goes out of control. It starts at the top and takes everything with it. You have psychic avalanches, revolutions, people destroying things. It's in nature, in people, in psychological and political situations. If you keep too much in, you then explode. We are reflections of our environment, whether we like it or not.
And now, as I write this in the spring of 1993, Heske is planning her new installation, planning to burn frozen video images of avalanches on to ceramic tiles and to etch the doll's profile in crystal tiles, planning to cover the walls with video avalanches and the floor with the crystal doll heads. There will also be two small houses not unlike the ones she made for an installation in Atlanta at the beginning of 1993. Like them each will be just large enough for a single individual to enter. But in the Atlanta installation, Heske used Glycol coils: one house was warm inside but covered with ice outside, the other was warm outside and covered with ice inside. In the two new houses, she will put together alternating layers of organic and inorganic materials, according to the principles of the orgone box Of Wilhelm Reich, maverick Viennese psychoanalyst who came to Norway during World War II, and died outlawed and discredited in a U.S. prison. His attempts to capture natural energies coincide with her own use of materials, and she likes discredited scientific theories. Explains Heske: ''If you put together alternating organic and inorganic layers of materials, it captures energy. The Buddhists know this. Reich wanted to prove it in a western way. I'm doing it with my video. I became interested in his theories. I like materials. So among all these masses of dolls and nonentities and avalanches, I will build some orgone towers for living people. Viewers can go into the towers, have a visual experience, and maybe they will get the energy. It doesn't matter if I believe it or not. The inner layer is inorganic because the human being is organic and this energy is in the walls." Will it work? ''You never know," she says, ''but with art you never know. It's the same with art: is the energy there or isn't it there?"
Parallels can be found in her work to the work of Nam June Faik or Joseph Beuys, but they're beside the point: Heske's art is grounded in the land and society of Norway, and is basically intuitive. ''Nature here is strong and serious," she says. Her work reverberates with interconnections between nature and humanity, and between the individual and the social entity. It alludes not only to the masking of uniqueness imposed by social structures, but to natural reconstructive events. It proceeds by layerings of contradictory dualities the macrocosmic and the microcosmic, the organic and the inorganic, the natural and the technological, the individual and the anonymous, the warm and the cold. It involves a fierce sense of place as well as radical displacements. In Heske's art, there is no such thing as progress, only infinite progression dislocations, and resonances. Her father built hydroelectric power stations in the mountains. Using technology and atmospheric energy, Heske creates technological photo- thermal work that speaks of dammed-up emotions and social pressures, while relating a flood of questions about individual identity. And, at this moment of collapsing systems, the avalanches in her art function as global metaphor as well as an abstracted image.
@ 1993 Kim Levin
Kim Levin is an International Curator and Art Critic, currently living and working in New York. She is writing for Village Voice, New York and other publications.
Mountains of the Mind, text by Robert C. Morgan
Marianne Heske's "Mountains of the Mind"
Electronics and advanced art have much in common. Whereas the former is a medium, the latter operates as a conduit for the medium; Electronics functions for advanced art in much the same way that it functions for any form of cultural communication. One might say that much of the theoretical basis of post-modernism in the visual arts is the result of recognizing the connection. Industrial hardware was the medium for the machine aesthetic - the birth of cubism, futurism, constructivism, purism, Bauhaus, and the Stijl. These early Twentieth Century art movements formed the basis of Modernism as we under- stand it today. Perhaps, one should say it was not the only basis of Modernism. Rather it was the basis of Utopia that provoked dissection among the expressionist artists. If Modernism was utopian, then anti-Modernism was expressionism. But as we have come to understand, even anti-art movements add to the dialectical foundation of a concept. To understand Modernism in its truest form, it is also necessary to understand anti- Modernism.
With electronics the dialectical approach of Modernism has been gradually transformed into a new approach. The dialectical structure is not so much within the aesthetic discourse of a utopian/expressionism approach as it is within another discourse that is more related to the processes by which information is transmitted and received. If this is the case, then much of what has been called Postmodernism over the past decade is really derrière-garde. Whereas the transmission of cultural information has been elevated to art in the work of certain conceptualists, the trendy "young'' artists of the Eighties have been more obsessed with the recycling of former styles; in other words, their emphasis has been on the image bereft of substance. The urge for resolution in this type of Postmodernism has been left in a quandary. One reason for this quandary is that the level of communication is so culturally superficial that it is almost impossible to define in terms of aesthetic experience.
Marianne Heske's work is concerned with aesthetic experience, yet not at the sacrifice of a conceptual structure. She has exploited various systems of nature and culture over the past decade and a half. Two of her best-known pieces among those who have followed her work in Scandinavia and Europe are pieces that deal directly with problems of communication in the new age of electronics. This is to suggest that the refinement and development of high-tech systems of communications does not guarantee a better understanding of the diverse aspects of a global society. This fact has been known for some time. Yet Heske manages to return our consciousness to the source of communication by returning images of the wilderness into a transformation situation that somehow connects with the electronic era from which there is no escape.
Heske does not see electronics as a diverse tendency that removes consciousness from the limits of how human nature might be perceived introspectively; rather she attempts to merge electronics into the world of nature. In so doing, her images of electronic mountains in all their breathtaking computerized color collide with a state of natural wonderment. Much of this sensational presence has to do with her personal and cultural relationship to her native Norway. In contrast to life in the urban habitats of New York, Heske's view of nature and culture are not so much at opposite poles as they are intertwined in a nearly transcendent way. The mystical relation- ship that people in western Norway feel in the presence of mountains is not simply a view that incites breathtaking awe. The mystical experience with nature is tied directly to the visual and psychological impact of mountains. The pressure of the space one feels gliding between mountain peaks covered with snow is not simply a technical feat. It is a spiritual state of mind - or, at least, that is how Marianne Heske chooses to see it and to envision it in terms of her pronounced aesthetic vision. Hers is a subjective reality that is true to the nature in which she grew up. It is a reality that she feels is not divorced from the big-tech systems of urban life because the vision is an embedded one. Consciousness begins with a mystical relationship to nature. The mountains and fjords of Norway are her source of meaning. To speak of meaning in an age of Postmodernism may seem irrelevant or obsolescent. For the concept of meaning has its ties to Modernism, to origins and essences. The language of the Eighties is about the analysis of signs through the observation of societal codes. Meaning has become detached from the signs. The signs hover in a free zone. But this orientation to the structure of language is one that is severed from consciousness. It is a language without any connection to consciousness. It is the language of complete stasis and total abstraction. It is a clinical view of reality.
It is odd to speak of reality in relation to the art of the Nineties. It appears or, perhaps, re-appears as a foreign concept. It is a concept that faded from view. Reality, for the past decade or so, existed in a void, a lost concept. With Heske's electronic mountains and her amazing reconstruction of a white-on- white avalanche in the Clocktower Gallery, we are given a re-
freshing view of a necessary tension between nature and culture. This is not simple a parable in the revival of structural anthropology. Rather it is a search - a deeply personal search - into the phenomenon of Being. Heske's art has a lot to do with dislocation more than the alienation of Sartre or Camus. Heske's dislocation is perfectly expressed in an earlier piece called "Project Gjerdeloa.'' This work involved the transport of a 350 years old shepherd's cabin from the wilderness area of Tafjord in the mountains of Norway to the Biennale de Paris, 1980, at the Centre Georges Pompidou. Here the cabin was reconstructed and became a piece of conceptual art, in line with many other art pieces being exhibited. One year later it was transported back to its original site, where it now has resumed its original function.
The significance of "Project Gjerdeloa'' is defined on many levels. It operates as a metaphor of communication in the most physical sense; that is, real timbers are the medium that constitute the form of the piece. The structure of the cabin can be perceived as a whole on site and then reconstructed during its period of transit from one point to another. "Project Gjerdeloa'' deals with the analysis of language, characteristic of the Eighties, without denying other levels of consciousness and physical experience that are also endemic to language.
While speaking with Heske I was reminded of a famous Zen Buddhist koan or riddle that I heard over twenty years ago; There was a young monk who began to study the course to enlightenment. One day he walked out into a field and saw before him a mountain. He identified the mountain as one aspect of the landscape around him. Several years later the monk was walking again in the field, but his perception of the mountain in front of him had lost its clarity. The place of the mountain within the terrain seemed uncertain. Suddenly the monk became confused. A few more years went by. The monk decided to visit the mountain a third time. This time he was certain of it. The cloud had lifted. The vision of the mountain had entered his consciousness. It had become a mountain of the mind.
There is a discourse involved in Marianne Heske's work that is not so different from the legacy of this Zen Buddhist monk. I am reminded of another earlier work from 1984 called "Video dialog's". In this work Heske presents two television monitors and two videotapes of several people conversing and arguing about the nature of art. Is it a measuring tape or a rubber band? The idea for this piece, Like "Project Gjerdeloa,'' was basically conceptual. There was no object, so to speak, other than the video equipment and two notebooks in which audience members were allowed to add their responses to the taped conversation. The piece was dialectical. There was a play between concept and material. It may have been an absurd argument - perhaps, even an absurd question; but nonetheless, it was a profound investigation into the subject. The results from "Video Dialog'' were perhaps less specific than the "natural'' images produced in a more recent series of work called Voyage Pittoresque'' (1986). Whereas "Video Dialog'' emphasizes the dialectical process of an idea, "Voyage Pittoresque'' adds something to that process. This additional element is a computer-generated image taken from Heske's video camera. As she records the image of the mountains and fjords in western Norway, she is engaged in a process that she knows will eventually become translated on the surface of fabric. While her initial undertaking has resonances that are not far removed from the work of Hamish Fulton, Jan Dibbets, and Richard Long, in that the observation is a romanticized fragment of her temporal and spatial relationship to nature, Heske is also aware of the secondary level of information that will effect her decision concerning the outcome of the image. This secondary level is, of course, the transformation of nature into "the natural". Computerized video technology makes this process accessible.
In The Clocktower exhibition Heske shows these configurations of "the natural'' on three types of fabric, canvas, silk, and jute. The fabric becomes another element, an additional signifier that encapsulates the image as concrete memory. These works are both documents of a process and fabrications of another level of reality. They are both literal and transcendent. Technology is used as a means to incite mystical presence. This process is not so different from what Malevich did with his famous black square on white or, more to the point, his white on white. That is to say, Malevich's vision was both a linguistic operation, in terms of ridding his canvases of an- other specific symbolism, yet simultaneously echoing a primary mystical feeling. Indeed, for Malevich the language of form was the counterpart to feeling.
With Heske's Mountains of the Mind there is a similiar kind of echo. One may hear the reverberation bouncing off the snow-bound rocks into the infinite whiteness of her avalanche.
Heske's ability to give visual power to "the natural'' is more than a linguistic ploy. Certainly one can analyze the work in these terms. There is a passage from the document to the embedded sign that happens through her combined technical and aesthetic mediation. There is also the moral dimension of these images when seen within the context of New York City. What is Manhattan but an island of spires and information, a nexus of electronic energy that reverberates in constant, relative motion, in time/space? Heske's dialectical response to Manhatten island is a site specific affair. Her magic mountains are fabrications, to be sure, but they are also pitted against the gravity of indifference to nature. It is through "the natural" that Heske's passage occurs. Once the passage is understood on its most literal surface, these mountains interact with the presence of the eye/body' - that synaptical charge that restores the balance of meaning to the language paradigm.
New York, November 1989
Robert C. Morgan is an artist, critic, curator, and Professor of Art History. Currently living and working in N.Y.C.
Frieze, Issue 68, 2002, review by Gabriel Coxhead
It's rare that an artist is awarded the distinction of two concurrent retrospectives, let alone in the same city. But it's a mark of Marianne Heske's importance to European Conceptual- ism - and of the esteem in which Norway holds her - that both of these major galleries simultaneously exhibited her work.
'To Whom it May Concern', at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, adopted the classic historical approach: a representative overview, Heske's excursions into different artistic areas were displayed: land art, sound art, video pieces, performance and installation art. Her best-known work - an installation, Project GjerdelÃ¸a (1980) - was presented through documentary photographs. The piece involved removing a small 17th-century log cabin from the steep mountainside above a remote fjord in the east of Norway. It was dismantled, transported and reconstructed in a room in the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. The logs of the shed bore 300 years' worth of graffiti - one inscription was marked 1687 - carved by the haymakers who used the shed for storage and shelter. The Parisians, in turn, were encouraged to write their own thoughts and messages on to the wood. Exactly a year later the work was returned to Norway. Using the cabin as a vehicle for cultural exchange, Project Gjerdeloa destabilized relationships between the pastoral and urban, past and present, art and non-art.
The National Museum exhibition also introduced the major leitmotif of Heske's work: a 1920s doll's head - girlish lips, arched eyebrows, tightly bobbed hair - that she found in Paris in the 1970s. Its image recurs throughout her work from that decade, as Heske, in common with other artists practising in mainland Europe at the time, extended the conceptual trajectory started by Fluxus. This mass-produced head became, for her, a symbol of humanity, a representative of the anonymous individual among the masses. In various works and in different media - from photomontage and lithography to assemblage and even film - she combined its image with scientific diagrams of skulls and phrenological charts and mappings, explorations of the systems used to classify consciousness, and to label individuals. In a series of photographs on canvas the faces of various people - a judge, a policeman a street-corner doom-monger carrying his (the end is at hand' placard - are covered by the doll's head image, as social roles obliterate individuality and curtail self- expression.
There were more of these early pieces in the exhibition '+- 0', at the Henie-Onstad Museum, as well as more recent installations that also used the doll's head. But the central concept behind this show was the articulation of Heske's interest in the idea of 'nature'. Her 'video paintings' are still images from videos, printed on to canvas or silk (an idea that has influenced, among others, Nam June Paik). When she filmed Norway's rugged and majestic landscape, Heske manipulated the colours as she recorded them - working en plain air, as it were. In the series 'Fu1l Moon Mountain' (2001) weirdly shaped rocks and crags were picked out in psychedelic, luminous shades. Their striations and knuckled outlines seemed to glisten and pulsate against the dark background. The 'Avalanche' series of paintings (1998) could almost be abstract images, with their bursts and freckles of reds and oranges and blues. Some of them look like wrinkled skin, others like the snowstorm patterns of interference on television.
A larger work from 1993, also entitled Avalanche, consisted of one such painting, leaning against the wall. One thousand and one glass dolls' heads, each with a different crystal set inside, spilled across the floor from the edge of the painting - an avalanche of people; human history slipping past; the Fall of mankind. The avalanche is, for Heske, both a symbol of the raw power of nature and a metaphor for human nature. Using technology to reconfigure the very tradition of Romantic landscape painting, she blurs the distinction between nature and culture.
Hence Heske's four Orgon Houses (1995), based on the forgone accumulators' of Austrian psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, but with the insides covered in digitized images of, again, avalanches. Living in Norway in the 1930s, Reich theorized that the layering of organic and inorganic material could be used to trap natural energy and to channel that energy for human benefiters with her interest in phrenology, the point is not whether Heske believes in these ideas herself, but rather humanity's constant invocation of science and technology to attempt to understand nature - and therefore its own nature.
Expo 2000, Norwegen, text by Gavin Jantjes
Marianne Heske's solution for the Norwegian Pavilion at Expo 2000 is a bold response to the host nation's challenge to participating countries to use culture as a means of demonstrating their contributions to the exposition and the future. Heske's project is a unique metaphor that in many layers reflects Norwegian culture and industy. She has chosen to work with basic Norwegian elements that emphasize the healthy relationship in the interaction that exists between culture and industry.
In Marianne Heske's earlier work (Project Gerdeloa 1980) she moved a Norwegian house to the middle of Paris, thus making an important contribution to the "centre-periphery" debate. This created awareness of contemporary Norwegian art in the cultural heart of Europe.
Although the Expo 2000 project has similar intentions, it involves totally different strategic choices. It employs two elements of the Norwegian outdoors: a large, dramatic waterfall and a silent room. Heske uses these elements as images to make visible fundamental forces of nature and the environment as sources of renewable energy. Together these reflect a basic respect for ecology and diversity, which includes industry. Having a silent room in close proximity to a roaring waterfall gives the public a break from its globalised hyperactive digital daily lives. The composition proposes that people make time for thinking about industrial development in the near and long term.
SIZE AND PRESENTATION
The size of Heske's project is precise and absolutely right for an event as large as Expo. The elements of the experience building have proportions that create a dramatic impression for the Norwegian Pavilion as a whole. The amount of falling water creates a corresponding acoustical impression that will attract attention in a wide area. The sight of a futuristic, man-made aluminium structure sending forth quantities of water signals controlled energy. A smaller waterfall would have been a pure backdrop. Heske's waterfall conveys the idea of renewable and controlled energy. It shows that Norwegian industry is capable of managing Norway's vast natural resources wisely in the new millennium.
CHOICE OF MATERIALS
Aluminium, water (both as a resource and as energy) and silence. The materials used in creating Heske's project are strongly linked to important industries in Norway.
Marianne Heske's project for Expo 2000 should be valued for its bold combination of Norwegian culture and industry. The Norwegian pavilion will generate interest, particularly among German visitors, because it shows the environment and industry in a spectacular, yet non-commercial way. The pavilion will make an acoustic impression on visitors before they see it, and the installation's size and dramatic form will make it very popular.
Artisitc Director, Henie-Onstad Center
(professional statement to Norway at Expo 2000 in evaluating the project).
Marianne Heske "Illuminations", text by Daniela Buchten, 2005
Colours and light vibrate on the wall. Light is frozen within, captured by large sheets of paper, in flowing colours and forms. Some pages are lying in rolls. Others form a book. A book full of light: an illumination.
The Latin word "illuminatio" means illumination, enlightenment - both literal and spiritual. Medieval illuminations were not only beautiful and coloufully decorated, they were also a result and a means of divine enlightenment. In Marianne Heske's installation, waves of light from the universe are caught by the video camera and reflected in forms and elements of nature. Rock and earth are transformed through water, through melted ice. The digital video is processed visually by the artist. Still video frames are transferred to handmade paper, creating a universe of colour in every possible spectrum. Nature has been transmuted into culture, rendered visible in the central, culture-bearing medium, the book, and electronic language.
The installation "Illuminations" addresses fundamental issues in our culture. How is knowledge communicated through books or modern technology? What happens when information is transferred from one medium to another? Marianne Heske uses a type of paper called Daphne Papyracea, which is made in the Himalayas from trees that grow at altitudes up to 2400 metres above sea level. The production process is visible in the rough surface, in the paper fibres. The tree is still present.
Marianne Heske's installation constitutes a complete cosmic universe spanning two continents, with paper from the Himalayas and a video of the Norwegian natural landscape. The two combine to form an entirely new element, a book, a work of art. The artist describes the very essence of the book as a medium, which becomes a personal, visual journey for each new reader. The installation thus reflects not only the interface between nature and culture, but also the vital importance of paper and books in our common history, combined with the luminous tracks of the new media.
Marianne Heske is one of Norway's most widely acclaimed contemporary artists. She has studied in Bergen, Paris, London and Maastricht. She began to experiment with video as far back as the early 1970s in Paris, and soon began to use the new medium for a very unusual purpose, namely landscape "painting". Her heavy video equipment captured light waves in nature. The colours in the video were then pocessed and printed on paper, metal, silk and other materials. Marianne Heske's works focus on the concepts of culture and nature. Her installations, graphic art and "video paintings" have been shown at numerous exhibitions, both in Norway and abroad. She represented Norway at the Venice Biennale in 1986 and at EXPO 2000 in Hannover.
Marianne Heske, "Works and Notes", 1978
Text by Alexander van Grevenstein from the book Marianne Heske, Works and Notes, 1978.
Complexity and diversity demands rules and regulations. Order and logic are most of the time used in a false context. One of the topics in oversimplification in the search for order in man's behavior, is the theory of phrenology. It was initiated in the nineteenth century and has a strong positivistic character. To phrenology the different mental faculties such as hope, cautiousness, benevolence and perceptive capacities such as form, volume, colour etc., have specific positions in the brain. These positions are marked on the skull by a scheme, which consists of 35 sections.
Marianne Heske uses this scheme on a doll's mask. When we allow an individual to wear such a mask, it is possible to simplify still more our search for order.
In her work marianne Heske forces everyone to wear such a mask, but she also from time to time takes them off again. Then behind that mask we find someone who needs to express himself at speakers corner in Hyde park og somebody who thinks he's Jesus, not being able to express himself in an every day context.
Those who wear masks were called by Nietsche the "viel zu vielen". Marianne Heske tries to show the "others". Those who are often forced to live on another planet.
A conversation between Per Hovdenakk (Henie-Onstad Art Centre, Oslo) and Marianne Heske
Per Hovdenakk: Already in 1975, when you were living in Paris, you told me that you would like to bring with you an old mountain hut or some other genuinely Norwegian object to Paris or some other urban place. Could you explain why you wanted to do this and what you hoped to achieve?
Marianne Heske: At that time, I was acutely aware of the tremendous distance, speaking in geographical terms as well as in terms of different attitudes to art, between the Norwegian art milieu and the international art milieu which I was living down there. This was shortly after I had held the first exhibitions of my own, both in Norway and in France, and I was struck by the contrast between these two milieus in regard to the way of thinking as well as the mode of expression. When it comes to discussing art and ideas about art, these two milieus are like two different worlds. In Paris the hut was sees as conceptual art. In Norway conceptual art is about as well known as Norwegian art and culture is known to the public in Paris. What they did hade in common, though, was that everybody claimed to know best. This applies not only to art and culture but to all kinds of convictions and opinions about politics, religion, ethics etc, Trends that change and vary with time, location or society. A result of these experiences and observations were my pictures with the doll's head. I found that when placed in different contexts, the doll's head changed expression: the colour and significance were altered, but although the expression changed, the head remained the same.
Later, when I moved to Britain and the Netherlands, my interest in this approach grew stronger all the time, and the resultat was the book "Works and Notes" (Maastricht, 1978). "Project Gjerdeloa" was also based on the same approach, Just like the doll's head, the mountain hut is also a concrete, tangible medium, which serves to focus attention on our way of thinking and on our ideas. By moving it from one environment and culture to another, l wanted to compare the responses of people from different cultures. On the basis of my knowledge of both of these art milieus, I assumed that in Norway the hut would be seen and recognised as a hut, where as in Paris it would become conceptual art. At that time, such art trends as land~art, minimal art and various forms of constructivism were "in" in Paris, and l expected that the hut would be regarded as belonging to one of these.
P.H.: Many people would say that you have borrowed ideas for your project from landscape artists like Christo, or from the Dadaists, such as eg. Duchamp's "ready-mades".
M.H.: Obviously, my project does contain elements from those trends which you just mentioned: very process of moving the house, wirh an aerial cable and everything, may be regarded as land-art, with elements of a traditional and ritual nature. Secondly, the act of removing the hut from its natural surroundings for one year might well have developed ina happening, if any one of the people involved had been thinking along these lines. After all, this act does represent an intervention in the local cultural scene. And, finally, the hut itself may be seen as a Dadaistic "ready-made". For Duchamp's i'eady~mades the institutional context itself turned the objects into art. To Sonie extent this also applies to the hut, but in this case time and trends in 'the art world are of much greater significance. These two factors, more than anything else, were responsible for transforming the hut into a conceptual work of art. After all, the main objective of the project was precisely to focus attention on how people regard the hut in different Ways, depending on the context in which they see it. There would be little point in moving the hut into an abstract art scene for example. lf you insist on giving the pro" ject "label", why don't you call il conceptual national romanticism...
P.H.: How did you manage to get hold ofthe hut? It cannot be very easy to borrow a house here in Norway in order to put it on exhibition in Paris?
M.H.: No, it's rather unusual to do this sort of thing, indeed, Still, it wasn't too difficult, because I spent many years in Tafjord as a child, and I know the people there. As a matter of fact, I was offered other houses to borrow as well.
P.H.: How did local people react when they got to know about your project?
M.H.: The people of Tafjord are careful not to say too much about things, especially where works of art are being discussed. I should think, though, that such a project, which involved moving an old, delapidated building to an art exhibition in Paris, would seem rather far-fetched to most of them. They would have reacted quite differently, I think, if I had come with my easel and brushes in order to paint the hut. It is quite beautiful as it is. But, on the whole, people were nice and willing to help, and some of them became rather enthusiastic about it. There was no lack of good advice and helping hands when needed. But, to use such an old-fashioned means of transportation for the logs as aerial ropewaly was a hit too inefficient and over-romantic for thelr taste. They suggested that I should use al helicopter or a caterpillar tractor instead, but I stuck to the ropeway. And l am glad l did, because added an extra dimension to the project, But why did you choose exactly this house? In principle, ll could have used just about any typically Norwegian house of a suitable size, but l felt it would be nice to borrow one from a familiar environment; an environment which has contributed to the shaping of my personality in the same way as my years in Paris have done. Throughout the years, travellers, haymalcers and shepherd boys have carved names and pictures on the timber Walls, and so the hut is rnarked by the local culture in this respect as well. Moreover, this hut is situated in exceptionally beautiful surroundings: in a grassy field on the brink of a cliff, surrounded by steep mountains. The contrast with Paris could not possibly have been more striking.
P.H.: And how did you arrange the transport to Paris?
M.H.: I used my own car, and although I was driving alone, and the car was heavily loaded, everything Went all right. A rather strange feeling, though, to know that I was carrying a piece of the tranquility and calmness of the mountains in my luggage - especially in the deafening noise of the disco music on the boat to Amsterdam. Some Witty fellows suggested that l should use the hut to camp in on the way. Everything went smoothly until l reached the French border, When the French customs officials discovered the old logs, the birch bark and the shrub, and when l also told them that the whole lot was to be exhibited at the Centre Georges Pompidou (which ranks almost as highly inthe esteem of the French as the Eiffel tower does), they asked me very politely to pull over to the side. A moment later, they were crawling around among the logs and the sacks of wet shrubbery, and they obviously thought that I was raving mad. Fortunately, my papers were all right, so after having used his rubber stamp industriously for quite a while, the official in charge finally gave me permission to drive on.
P.H.: How was this installation, as it now ought to be called, set up at the Centre Pompidou?
M.H.: The hut was placed in a room, 12 metres by 8 metres (40 ft. by 25 ft), and addition, there was a kind of anteroom, 4 metres by 8 metres (12.5 ft. by 25 ft). The floor and the walls were painted white and the ceiling was the characteristic steel tube structure of the Centre Pompidou. In this anteroom I arranged a series of photographs, both in colour and black & white, showing the entire process: how it was taken down, the ropeway, the tiansport to and rebuilding Paris. Two video monitors without sound flanked the entrance to the anteroom. One of these showed a video recording of the hut in its natural surroundings in the mountains. The only visible movements were the trees swaying in the wind and the coming and going of the sun. The other monitor was connected to a video camera which recorded the activity in the room where the hut was placed: people coming and going, moving around in the room, walking in and out of the hut, touching the shrubbery on the roof,... All these things together made an effective contrast to the functional and somewhat barren atmosphere of the museum.
P.H.: What kind of effect did this house have, do you think, compared with the rest of the Biennale?
M.H.: As a matter of fact, it blended in quite well with the variety of '-isms' represented at the exhibition, such as minimalism, constructivism, and so forth. One of the "in"-trends was to use rocks, trees, sand, hay and other natural objects.The artist who exhibited next to me was busy reconstructing old timber framework, and he asked me if I had built the house on a 1:10 scale.
P.H.: Did you meet many people who failed to realise that this exhibit was a genuine, old house?
M.H.: Yes, indeed. Many people thought that the house was a plastic replica, and also that the shrubbery on the roof was fake, in spite of the fact that it was watered every morningf and smelt fresh. Perhaps I ought to have expected this sort of reaction, since the hut was the only contribution which was not actually made for this particular exhibition. Others claimed that it could not possibly date back as far as the 17th centery, because the saw was not invented until much later, so I had to tell them that the logs had been split by means of axes and wedges, and that the age given was correct, after all. Many people also found it hard to believe that I had not bought or rented the hut, but quite simply borrowed it.
P.H.: But did the international public accept that an old hayshed from the outermost provinces, so to speak, could be a work of art?
M.H.: Yes, as a matter of fact, they did. Perhaps because hardly anyone knew what an old hayshed really looks like. And critics did not bother to argue such points as whether or not I had made it myself, whether or not it was a work of art, whether or not it would ever be returned to its original environment, etc. As I had expected, the hut was classified as conceptual art and as avant-garde art, and it was judged accordingly. You could also argue, I suppose, that it conforms to the conventional definition of a work of art: form + content colour = a work of art. Personally, l am less interested in whether it is si work of art or not, and more interested in the fact that it was perceived as art in one environment, and not so in another one.
P.H.: I take it that the response to the exhibition at Høvikodden was somewhat different then?
M.H.: In Norway, a barn is a barn is a barn. Here, the main point was the physical appearance; whether it was beautiful, old, rotten, etc., although this is somewhat irrelevant to the general idea of the project. Bearing in mind that the various contemporary international schools of art are relatively unknown in Norway, we cannot expect the hut to he seen in connection with these schools. Against this background, it is quite understandable that it should be regarded as a kind of nostalgic "ready-made". Many people felt really for the hut, taken so far away from its "home". A Norwegian colleague, who had seen the hut in Paris in October, triumphantly told me that the shrubbery on the roof was yellowing quite forgetting that the natural, autumnal processes had set in. It's strange that they are not more concerned about all those houses that are being removed from their old environments to smarten up some summer retreat or the like. Houses that are never allowed to return "home" again. Another interesting aspect of the Høvikodden exhibition is the visit by many people who had never before set foot in an art museum or gallery. To them the hut was an earthbound, recognizable, almost homely object and not something distant and exclusive, which is the way art often appears to ordinary people.
P.H.: And now the hut is back at Tafjord again?
M.H.: Yes, We set it up again exactly one year after taking it down. It was difficult to get it done any earlier, partly because of the snow in the winter, and also because of the danger of avalanches in the spring. But I had borrowed it for one year, and I thought it would be nice to mark this anniversary. The cable was still there, and the people who helped,rne take it down also took pari in rebuilding it. and thus we had come full cirde.
P.H.: Do you think that moving the hut has changed its identity in any way?
M.H.:lt is more than likely this hut 1138 been moved before. It was quite usual to take down such houses and move them other places whenever necessary. The construction makes this quite easy. (The workers at the Centre Pompidou calied it "the worlds first Lego"). Nor has its physical appearance been changed, the exception that inside of the walls have been supplemented with new names, initials and signs from over the world. I belive that such a change of identity, if any, would have to be found in the eyes of the beholder, in a manner of speaking; people know that the hut has been to Paris. But in its familiar surroundings at Tafjord, it still is a hut. Admittedly I would have been quite a different matter if it had been purchased by the Centre Pompidou to become part of the permanent collection, or by the Norwegian National Gallery, for that matter...
P.H.: Any conclusions?
M.H.:As we were building the hut up again in the pouring rain at Tufjord, l said to the owner that this project was a completely crazy idea, and he replied: "Well, it's art, so there's nothing to be done about that."
From Fringe to Centre?
The Works of Marianne Heske in Düsseldorf and Berlin
By Hans Albert Peters and Michael Haerdter
How well-acqainted is the German art-lover with Norwegian art, beyond a presumed knowledge of the work of Edvard Munch? Does he realize how many of the leading masters ascribed to the Düsseldorf School were Norwegians, who, like Adolph Tidemand and Hans Fredrik Gude, only returned to Norway for a few months of the year; or that Johan Christian Clausen Dahl, one of the greatest German Romantic landscape painters after Caspar David Friedrich, living in Düsseldorf was originally from Norway? Does he know, that young Norwegians, today, live and work in Düsseldorf and Berlin and may be regarded as belonging to the "scene"? Has the question of nationality, or of where an artist works any relevance today, when art has become an international language? The power of regional inspiration, the regeneration of art outside the great centres have been on the agenda of the art world for some time, allowing discussion of such questions.
Marianne Heske grew up in western Norway, and today, lives and works in Oslo. Until now she has rarely been in the public eye in Germany. She was a guest lecturer for a brief period at the Düsseldorf Academy in 1989, and at the Hamburg School of Fine Arts in 1991. She took part in various thematic shows, such as "Borealis" (Berlin 1988), and "Art Ware" (Hannover-Düsseldorf 1987); yet these provided no glimpse into the diversity of her work. Solo and group exhibitions in Paris, and participation in the Venice Biennale (1986), did little to rectify this.
It was not the intention of the organisers of the exhibition in Düsseldorf and Berlin to make good deficiency of which here, there is no trace. The basis of our interest and commitment is the fascinating, autonomous work of Marianne Heske itself. It reveals a new concept of nature, of Norwegian landscape as a resonating and reflective space for streams of spiritual energy, which may lead to the possible renewal of our observation of nature – through the extensively untouched landscape, far removed, also, from economic and ecological consideration. Our encounter with the broad spectrum of Marianne Heske's work, in her studio and ultimately in this year's Bergen Festival exhibition, convinced us that others might be made receptive to the creative achievement of a young artist which radiates from the margins of Europa far into the midst of the centres of contemporary art.
We thank Marianne Heske, and Svein Christiansen, Director of the Bergens Kunstforening, for their willingness to adapt the exhibition, conceived and realized for the Bergen Festival of
1993, to the possibilities of Düsseldorf and Berlin – so different from the Kunstforening Gallery – and from each other, so that the seminal concept will lead to completely new installations. We are also obliged to Marianne Heske and Svein Christiansen for the catalogue and its design, now available in a changed and expanded form, for Germany. We are grateful to Tove S. Kijewski, Press and Cultural Councelor of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Bonn for smoothing every way, liaising with further sponsors, contributing substantially herself, with the support of the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Bonn, to the realization of our project. We also thank Ulrich Hartmann, Chairman of the Board of VEBA AG; and Franka Heinrich, Company Secretary of Norsk Hydro Deutschland GmbH, for their generous support of the exhibition, which enjoys additional support in Berlin from the Senate Office for Cultural Affairs.
Mensch, Natur und Technik als Energiequelle
Von Annette Lagler
"Why don't you call it conceptual national romanticism?"
Mit dieser Wortkombination aus unterschiedlichen kunsthistorischen Fachbegriffen konterte Marianne Heske auf den Versuch eines Kunstkritikers, ihre Werke nach aktuellem Trend oder kunsthistorischer Wurzel zu kategorisieren. Anlaß war das Projekt "Gjerdeløa", die Präsentation einer kleinen norwegischen Berghütte auf der XI Biennale von Paris im Centre Pompidou.1
Während manche in Paris ihre Wanderungen, ihre mit Video aufgenommenen Naturbeobachtungen und die vorübergehenden Veränderungen der Umgebung der Land Art, bzw. Concept Art zuordneten, erkannten andere, zumeist Besucher aus Norwegen, in ihrem Werk eine eher nostalgisch wirkende Variante der "ready-made". In beiden Fällen wurde das Werk selektiv betrachtet; im ersten ging es um die dem Menschen entfremdete Natur, deren Dimensionen wieder entdeckt und in der Kunst neu ausgelotet wurden, im zweiten wurde die Hütte als funktional, real und landläufig wiederkannt. Fremdheit und ldentifikation bildeten dabei die bestimmenden Koordinaten der Kunstbetrachtung. Die Diskussion um die Arbeit von Marianne Heske löste Gedanken über die Relativität kunstkritischer Bewertungskriterien aus: Rezeption und "kunstgerechte" Einordnung waren nicht mehr nur vom Standort des Kunstwerks und seiner Umgebung abhängig, sondern auch von der kulturellen Prägung des Betrachters. Mit ihrer unkonventionellen Wortfindung entzog Marianne Heske ihr Werk dogmatischer Determinierung und vermied apodiktische Spezialisierung oder einseitige Abgrenzung.
Den von den Metropolen des internationalen Kunstmarktes Anfang der achtziger Jahre erwarteten Beitrag zur konzeptuellen Kunst verknüpfte Marianne Heske – wie sie in ihrer Wortfindung betont – mit dem Element des "Nationalen": für die Ausstellung in Paris wählte sie eine aus dem 17. Jahrhundert stammende Berghütte, traditionelle Unterkunft und Heuschober aus dem westlichen Küstengebirge Norwegens, wo Marianne Heske ihre Kindheit verbrachte. Dieses, im Verhältnis zu seiner gebirgigen Umgebung zwergenhafte Landschafts-Detail wurde im Centre Pompidou als konzentrierte Einheit, als eine Art Urzelle norwegischer Kultur präsentiert: "Eine alte Holzhütte, das Norwegischste, was man sich von den Bergen dort oben vorstellen kann."2
Dabei kam es Marianne Heske nicht auf eine ethnologische Studie zum norwegischen Brauchtum an, sondern auf die Vermittlung mentaler Werte. Das Haus war "Medium" der, in einer modernen Großstadt wie Paris so gänzlich fremden Atmosphäre von unerschütterlicher Ruhe.3 Die friedvolle Stille und harmonische Beschaulichkeit sollte den Ausstellungsbesucher tatsächlich erreichen – nicht als ldee oder Konzept, sondern als konkrete Erfahrung, die durch die reale Berührung und die doppelte Projektion der Videoinstallation am Eingang suggeriert wurde.
Auch in anderen Werken suchte Marianne Heske nach künstlerischen Ausdrucksmitteln, um die atmosphärischen Werte der Natur nachempfinden zu lassen. In "Voyage Pittoresque" beispielsweise erschienen Gletscher und Bergketten durch grellbunt gefilterte Videoaufnahmen als farbig glimmende Lavaströme; in den "avalanche video paintings" wurden videotechnisch verfremdete Lawinenbilder als flirrender Luftraum, oder vibrierendes Gewässer wiedergegeben. Die wörtlich gemeinte Ausstrahlung der Natur und ihr energetisches Fluidum wurden sichtbar gemacht.
Anorganische Materie, wie Gestein und Eis erscheinen organisch. Selbst die Architektur des Heuschobers schien in Paris in den Hallen des Centre Pompidou ihre "Lebendigkeit" unter Beweis zu stellen, indem sie – ihrer Natur entsprechend, mit der herkömmlichen Kunstvorstellung jedoch unvereinbar – zu grünen begann. Für den Ausstellungsbesucher wurde die Hütte durch ihre Wandlung zum beseelten Oganismus, der auf die neue Umgebung und ungewohnte Atmosphäre zu reagieren vermochte: "Das Gras wuchs wie verrückt. Das Dach meinte, das Licht der Galerie sei der Sommer."4
Dennoch blieb der Regelkanon der Narur bewahrt: "Ein norwegischer Kollege, der die Hütte im Oktober in Paris gesehen hatte, erzählte mir triumpfierend, daß die Dachbepflanzung nur verwelkt sei, ohne daran zu denken, daß die natürliche Herbstperiode bereits eingesetzt hatte. Es ist merkwüdig, daß es nicht mehr lnteresse an all den Häusern gibt, die aus ihrer alten Umgebung entfernt werden zur Ausgestaltung der Sommerfrische. Häuser, denen niemals erlaubt ist in die Heimat zurückzukehren."5
Die Vorstellung von einer beseelten Natur entsprach dem romantischen Weltbild, dem dritten Hinweis, den Marianne Heske zum Verständnis ihrer Kunst formulierte. 1841 beschrieb Carl Gustav Carus die Natur als Lebewesen: "Denn wir sehen ein, daß alles, was uns auf Erden und am Himmel umgibt, immerfort eine lebendige Offenbarung fort und fort wirkender göttlicher ldeen ist, daß Erde und Wasser nichts anderes ist unserem Planeten als Fleisch und Knochen und Blut unserem eigenen Körper."6
Als Prototypus oder Urform der organischen Genese definierte Carus die Kugel und erklärt die Schöpfung an Hand der Metamorphose eines Wassertropfens. Auch Marianne Heske interessiert sich in ihren "avanlanche video paintings" für den Punkt als Destillat dieser Naturerscheinung, auch sie prüfte das flüssige Element in seinem erstarrten Aggregatszustand und stieß bei der Untersuchung der technisch vergrößerten Mikrostrukturen der Lawine, bei den Gedanken an Ursprung und Elementarform auf die einfache nahezu geometrische Grundform der Kugel.7 Das mikroskopisch vergrößerte und videotechnisch gerasterte Feld der Lawine, die größtmögliche Nahsicht und die digitale Aufschlüsselung sorgten schließlich für eine solche Distanz vom Original, daß eine pastell-farbige Tönung und eine vibrierende Körnung zu Tage trat, die an Galaxis, Strömung oder Äther erinnern konnte. Die mikroskopische Sicht wird zum Einblick in eine kosmisch anmutende Unendlichkeit. Die starre Eisformation wandelt sich in einen Strom schwebender oder fließender Videopunkte und schließlich in Tupfen und Sprenkeln, die sich über der Leinwand ausbreiten – zum Substrat der Malerei.
In einem weiteren Schritt wurde die romantische ldee der Analogie van Makrokosmos und Mikrokosmos erweitert: Einen Punkt der Körnung, der nach Meinung der Künstlerin einem in früheren Arbeiten oft verwendeten Puppenkopf entsprach, ließ sie als Muster in Kacheln einbrennen. Die Eisinkrustationen können die Gestalt von Puppenköpfen annehmen wie auch umgekehrt die Puppenköpfe aus Kristallglas anonyme Eisklümpchen darstellen können. Die Natursubstanz läßt sich mit menschlicher Physiognomie in Verbindung bringen, die maschinelle Serienproduktion mit Naturerscheinungen. Für Marianne Heske kann das Video-Eiskorn, der technisch reflektierten Natur sowohl Keim kosmischer und künstlerischer Genese bedeuten als auch Urzelle der Menschheit.
Gerade in der Variationsbreite der wechselseitig sich durchdringenden Gleichungsmöglicheiten von Natur, Technik und Kultur liegt die künstlerische Essenz der Arbeiten von Marianne Heske. Erst die Konfrontation scheinbar gegensätzlicher Bereiche führt "unsichtbare" Phänomene vor Augen: die Relation zweier Extreme, wie die Pariser Kunstszene und die norwegische Landschaftsidylle, macht die heimatliche Atmosphäre deutlich, während die elektronische Analyse von Naturerscheinungen Gedanken über ein ganzheitliches Weltbild konkretisiert und einander ausschließende Kategorien irrelevant erscheinen läßt.
In der Gegenüberstellung verschiedenartiger Weltbilder spiegelt sich ein Teil der Biographie von Marianne Heske. lhre künstlerische Laufbahn hatte sie seit dem Ende der sechziger Jahre im drei- bis vierjährigen Turnus von Norwegen nach Paris, London und den Niederlanden geführt. lhre Unabhängigkeit von Stätten erklärt ihr künstlerisches lnteresse an einem kulturellen Transfer über nationale und historische Grenzen hinweg. Gleichzeitig macht Marianne Heske – ähnlich wie bei dem Projekt "Gjerdeløa" – in der "Fremde" explizit ihre eigenen kulturellen Wurzeln bewußt. Ihr Bemühen internationale Kunstentwicklungen in ihr Werk zu lntegrieren und zugleich die eigene ldentität im Spannungsfeld zwischen Geist und Empfinden zu behaupten führten schließlich zur Definition des "conceptual national romanticism".
1. A conversation between Per Hovdenakk (Henie-Onstad Art Centre, Oslo) and Marianne Heske. In: Project Gjerdeløa, Tafjord – Paris – Tafjord, Oslo 1984, o.s.
2. Marianne Heske zitiert von Kim Levin, Kim Levin, Marianne Heske: Kraftwerke. In: Marianne Heske, Bergen, 1992, o.s.
3. “I was carrying a piece of the tranquility and calmness of the mountain in my luggage.” Marianne Heske, In Gjerdeløa, 1984.
4. Marianne Heske zitiert von Marianne Heske, In: Heske, 1993
5. “A Norwegian colleague who had seen the hut in Paris in Ocober, triumphantly told me the shrubbery on the roof was yellowing, quite forgetting, that the natural, autumnal processes had set in. It is strange that they are not more concerned about all those houses that are being removed from their old environments to smarten up some summer retreat or the like. Houses that are never allowed to return “home again” Marianne Heske, In: Gjerdeløa, 1984
6. Carl Gustav Carus, Zwölf Briefe über das Erdleben, (1841), Nachdruck Stuttgart 1986, s. 64
7. Siehe auch: Carl Gustav Carus, Zwölf Briefe, 186, s. 67
Radiating – Streaming – Plunging
By Hans Albert Peters
Avalanches have been Marianne Heske's overpowering theme for some time; masses in motion her source material; the most up to date electronic equipment is her medium. Her aims are convincing pictures, objects and installations, as metaphors for the power of nature, with its atmospheric energy and cataclysmic force – a means by which to establish the identity of man and the world he inhabits, in all its physical and symbolic, personal and psychological intricacy. Any fear of contact with technology and its concomitant consequences upon her work, or for the process of creation, or the working and manner of effect of an art work, is apparently foreign to her. To realize her experiences and concepts, to grasp her fears and longings: to make art which contains all these, Marianne Heske turns to the possibilities of photography, video and computer-aided application, modification and heightening of received images by a complex airbrush process. The works which emerge are startling. Their visual power is breathtaking, and their significance exemplary.
As in Bergen, three large installations in the two differently structured exhibitions in the Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf im Ehrenhof, and the Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, will be the main works to affect the viewer, like power stations, with their energy. The installation in the entrance hall of the Bergens Kunstforening was especially impressive. Placed against the back wall was a gigantic Avalanche picture, realised on ten aluminium plates, before which, spread over the floor, a field of 1001 busts of dolls, 10 cm high, and cast in glass, was glittering. Diagonally, across the room, to the right of the entry, the anonymous mass of glass heads was countered by a single doll bust, in bronze, over life-size, and raised also by its plinth to monumentality. A smaller avalanche picture echoed the large one from the opposite wall, and relating to this one, an even smaller one at a right angle. On every picture surface, the unpredictable, destructive, natural power of falling avalanches in western Norway's mountains near Tafjord, is apparently frozen. In the video stills of the landscape of Marianne Heske's childhood, which she refers to as her source, and which she retains as her raw material, the rolling, sliding, tumbling masses of snow, which tear along all in their path, and their glittering ice crystals, are transformed into millions of coloured, apparently warm points of light. Correspondingly, in the pictures, where fractions and split seconds of video recording have been processed in heightened colour and projected up – myriad coloured dots have been branded onto a fine-grained, sand-blasted surface, by application of the latest airbrush technique.
The atmospheric energy of the harsh, wintry natural phenomenon is reinterpreted by the radiating, dramatic, optical warmth of the work of art. This energy force is captured by the powerfield of crystalline dolls' heads, charged according to the law of dispersion, and transferred to the viewer. His gaze roaming, seeking direction, discovers in all these identical, anonymous heads, with their basic human form feeding the instinctive drive to identify – small mineral-like coloured particles. These make an energy-radiating nucleus in the glassy, transparent, mass produced article, which the eye construes as the expression of an immanent personal resilience, conquering chaos, and which by the structural law of chance and order, gives interpretable meaning. This warm current, roaming space, is drawn by the optically warm, but actually, cold, dark bronze of the single, large bust, made larger by its plinth. It is reflected, too, in the metal of the avalanche pictures. The most sensitive viewer is pulled also into these streams of energy. The place radiates a compelling presence.
The five-part wall relief, Video Orgone, is activated by the same interplay between warm and cold. The tooled-on dots of threatening avalanches are stuffed from behind with fresh sheeps' wool, adding to the inorganic metal the organic animal hair, contrasting the smooth, cool, inorganic manufactured metal, which absorbs and conducts energy, and produced through processes of heat and rolling, with the warm, shaggy, inflammable, naturally grown material. Visual, physical expression is imparted through these different materials to the emotionally experienced field of energy.
Through changing, successive layers of organic and inorganic material, the double-aggregate Orgone Pagodas, Red and Blue, concentrates and collects the untapped energy of nature; familiar in ancient Far Eastern cultures as "prana", or "chi". The outermost layer of wood is coloured. Inside is aluminium, and between the two wire wool and sheeps' wool. The outside of the room, built to human scale, absorbs and transmits heat and cold. It is abstract, with no pictorial reflection of experienced nature. Inside, it is charged on all six sides by an electronically captured, modified and adapted image of the chaotic natural force of avalanches. The active viewer, experiencing these spaces, is conscious of a dual charge; on the one hand via the tried and tested substance, orgone, described by Wilhelm Reich, the collages of materials, and the image of the energy-emitting avalanche; on the other hand through the sensation of being inside an avalanche, sheltered beyond death, in the icy cold, using his own warmth and energy to survive.
All three works open spiritual spaces in which the viewer experiences the world and the self afresh. His fantasy is stimulated, and charged with new universal and self realization.
From the Renaissance, art and its intuition have been based on an interpretation of reality, and that of man and nature as part of reality. Both offer norms of experience and representation and establish them. The Renaissance view of man as a microcosm in which the macrocosm of the whole universe was lodged, led to such significance being ascribed to nature's explorer and interpreter, that nature often appeard to be the creation of man.
Before Galileo Galilei there was no scientific method or means by which to understand, represent or interpret nature. That is why, until into the sixteenth century, scientists and philosophers approached science and its instruments for exploring and depicting nature through art and its possibilities.
At the end of the modern period, Marianne Heske approaches art, believed to be lost, not in the manner of Joseph Beuys, on the mysterious trail of the shaman, but through applied science. She seeks to recover the art to which she aspires through electronic means, made available by science. The production and effect of her painting are, of course, not insignificantly determined by these possibilities. In fact, here lies the basis of much misunderstanding and misjudging of Marianne Heske's work. Her genius is not technique, but she uses the attainments of the technique. Under the power of strong emotion, she raises the temperatures of her pictures by the most intensive, glowing colours, or drastically cools them to white, icy cold. Her technological direction is overpowered by her artistic intelligence. Low key transfers of experienced but technically inflated nature, are filtered by her insight into form, colour and content. Material appearing aesthetically irrelevant is discarded. The images intensify to become real installations, wherein the viewer may tread, tactile objects of the most highly charged material and energetic tension – visual spiritual spaces which may inspire the viewer as models for a new way to experience the world, and discover himself.