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Statement

 

The path my work takes is set by my wish to explore in a poetic manner the intrinsic values of the material that creates landscapes: earth. I am motivated to visualize the forces, transformation processes, and organization of earth –clay– by exposing it to water, heat, air, light and/or gravitation. In the project ‘Transition’ (1988/89), for instance, I aimed at visualizing the quintessence of the ceramic process, the transformation of clay into stone.

Most times, my projects do not culminate in objects but in temporary, sometimes transitory, pieces or installations. Transience was an elementary aspect in the project ‘Suspension’ (1998/99). The dance of the clay sphere in the water basin and the sound of its disintegration were registered on camera.

During projects in New Mexico, my goal became to have a minimum of interventions leading to a maximum of visual results, and to apply erasable interventions only.

My work’s raison d’être is my attitude. This attitude of gathering knowledge, establishing viewpoints, facilitating action, making observations, and noticing all that can be discovered, is my foremost creative strength. I experience my knowledge of matter, collected over thirty years of working as an artist, as essential for the continuation of my ‘research’. The interaction of clay with minimal details in the landscape such as flow patterns make every landscape fit to be a location.

Recent projects are all born from processes. They are not ‘made’. It is my task to create, or provoke, those circumstances in which visualizations fall to me spontaneously. Working in the high desert has given me a strong feeling of freedom. No longer am I tied to specific locations, not even to the desert. Now every location, whether inside or out in the open, is potent enough to become intense and start a process.

Projects started long ago in New Mexico are part of this exhibition. I added more projects started either earlier, in Abiquiu, or recently, during my two months in Taos as artist in residence in the Harwood. This period took me not just to new images but foremost to new understanding. This was facilitated by spectacular confrontations with the geological complexity of the Taos area and with its inhabitants, those beautiful people representing so many cultures.

The new project ‘Forced to Settle’ got its title from the use of ‘Penistaja’. This is the Navajo word for ‘forced to sit’. It is also the name of New Mexico’s State Soil. Was it because the Native Americans were forced to settle in desert reservations, on harsh and barren state soil, that they gave this name to the earth? In ‘Forced to Settle’, state soil suspension is ‘seated’ on deck chairs for the duration of the exhibition.

The new project ‘Small Worlds’ consists of miniatures of the earth with all the characteristics of real mountains including their vegetation. These were discovered coincidentally. I had collected this earth three and four years ago and kept it in plastic bags. The bags were exposed to light, warmth, coldness and humidity after my arrival in Taos. On the surface of a few of the miniatures a fragile micro-biotic crust slowly started growing. Some surfaces adopted a variety of algae, lichens, mosses and bacteria. Now the crusts represent a world in itself – and as in the real world these crusts are vital to the ecological health of the system.


Anne Ausloos, Oktober 2009