Last week I found a piece of basalt in the flood line, eight centimeter tall, black as the night and lovely triangular shaped. This remarkable rock somehow combined perfectly with a rough piece of driftwood that I found few kilometers ahead. The black stone and the rugged wood triggered a chain of thoughts - and opened a window from where I could clearly see a new machine that I could and probably should make.
September this year I visited the exhibition Tote Räume by the reknowned German artist Gregor Schneider. Remembering Schneider's controversial project 'Cube', his proposal to errect a black cubical tent at the Venice Biennale 2005. How the Biennale project was cancelled because of the formal similarity to the Kaaba in Mecca so that it could act as a provocation to the Muslim visitor. How Schneider intelligently played with the controversy, the things too dangerous to present in the free open art world. He insisted that the sculpture did not mean to upset people. It’s not a replica of the Kaaba, although it was inspired by it, but evenso by Malevich’s Black Square. He explained: “It is a sculpture, in form and function unique".
A nice detailed scale model of St Mark's Square Venice with the black cube in it's center was nevertheless on display in the dark basement of the former American Embassy (in use by art space West). There it stood sovereign and beautiful under a weak yellowish spotlight. I thought of Mecca and the Kaaba, the most sacred site in Islam. Circling the Kaaba seven times counterclockwise is an obligatory rite for the numerous pilgrims, evenso there is this kind of mandatory ritual for all serious artists, critics and art lovers alike, the pilgrimage to the prestigeous Venice Bienale to enjoy the latest artistic developments.
There is yet another similarity in play, the Kaaba marks the location where the sacred world intersect with the profane, as a symbol of this crossing there is a Black Stone (al-Hajaru al-Aswad) attached to the east corner of the Kaaba, known as the 'Corner of the Black Stone'. According to Islamic belief Muhammad is credited with setting this Black Stone. It is said to be a meteorite that had fallen from the sky and linked heaven and earth. Its physical appearance is that of a dark rock, polished smooth by the numerous hands of pilgrims.
Likewise a true artist follows an individual trajectory intersecting many of the rational codes of communication. Summoning the spiritual through the connection with the unconscious and personal observation. The Venice Biennale visitor, or should we say art-pilgrim, seeks ideally an intimate reconnection to the spiritual through art. As you can see the Biennale authorities clearly missed out a chance by refusing Gregor Schneider's Cube project.
I have never been to Venice and instead of fallen from the sky, my black stone washed ashore. In addition geologists view the meteoritic hypothesis as doubtful anyway. The British Natural History Museum suggests that the Kaaba stone may be a pseudometeorite, in other words a terrestrial rock mistakenly attributed to a meteoritic origin. Now I ask you, is it very strange to think that my rock could also be a pseudometeorite... linking heavens and oceans? By the lack of pilgrim hands to polish my stone I applied a very nice electric tool with flexible head and adjustable speed. Embedded in the driftwood it perfectly shapes the base for my new machine.
...to be continued.