In a combination of an experiment with chance in the bathtub — into which the canvas is laid, the paint sinking through the water onto it — and a later rework, little by little a conceptual, linked series comes about, yet made up of solitaries. Both artists can be considered painters who consciously stand within, and yet at the same time set up a boundary to, a painting tradition. Favre goes about it less programmatically. She is satisfied with the allusion and the use of these Balls and Tunnels a title that lapidarily confronts the jargon word for male testicles with tunnels, associated in this constellation with female genitals as once-a-year outlets for chance and spontaneity.
These canvases function like a type of experimental model, a test case for other possibilities of painting than that primarily pursued by the artist.
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- A Personal Hell: Dont Ask, Dont Tell?
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At the same time, she also ties herself to a conceptual plan: the color range of each of the paintings depends on the available paint left over from the first batch of paint she purchased for this series. If Favre at first chose blues and reds, she later, for a lack of red, continued with yellows and greens, which these past years dominate Balls and Tunnels. In this way, by not buying new paint, she artificially creates a shortage of means that, on the one hand, set limits, but by tackling these limits, she in turn opens up new possibilities.
The decelerated tempo of the work evolvement, in a rhythm the year provides, allows her to gain a certain distance that, for one, maintains spontaneity and, two, can only over a long period make the sense of this conception comprehensible.
Although the most varied of media are used, the diversity in the works is not primarily a result of the media, but of other emotional states, withdrawing from or closing in on a theme, also in the way the artist enters into the work or holds herself back from it. It is less the fact that meaning circulates in them and more that it first builds itself up through the works and becomes complex via back references and projections in time. It is therefore difficult to say where the work will find its respective end. Stories write themselves onwards, amalgamate, figures leap from one canvas to another without forming a fixed identity.
They create parallel worlds that open gaps for our imaginings.
The theme of aloneness in the work of Hans Erich Nossack - UBC Library Open Collections
The overriding question here is the possibility for credible fiction in painting that is comparable to a consistent literary work or a film plot. Truthfulness sets in to a large degree through the emotional and sensual capacity of painting, through its coloration and the quality of its expression. The artist creates deep, impenetrable spaces against which the figures stand out, who then partly deteriorate.
Dead bodies rot and sink into the ground, figures grow out of high, slim trees and carry away long legs and noses. These are open narratives, instant takes of an ongoing story played out on countless stages. The painter who, among other things, worked as a stage designer, 3 sees to it that easel and backdrop are kept close together.
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In contradiction to this or perhaps more like absurd theater, the figures in her pictures do not develop any story lines; a certain plot context is suggested by the stage-like scene, but yet it is only the stand-ins who carry out anything resembling symbolic acts such as sleeping, fleeing, leaping or fighting. They find themselves in landscapes and interiors with changing dimensions and distances, airy spaces that they float through, ground that dissolves and tempi that are not kept to.
These female rabbits who appear on the scene self-assured and athletically provocative can be found in ever different constellations and nuances, as super heroines in costume and cape, as walkers in town and country, as sexually stimulating figures. Thus lapines are both female rabbits and male members. Too, they are an ongoing series of self-portraits, constant self-confirmation, such as found in the work of other artists across different work and life stages. Another series, Autos dans la nuit, actually the realm of the lion into which the rabbit sometimes slips, are studies of cityscapes, quick little pictures that keep up with the tempo of the miniature Peugeot.
If the rabbit-woman, who seems to have sprung from the world of comics, has suddenly turned into the protagonist of an animated cartoon the first sketches of which can be seen in this book , this apparently serves the purpose of liberating her from the world of oil paint and letting her run free, also in order to gain distance to, and clarity on, this figure before she again has to perform as mirror. The latter is a state of consciousness that gives you the freedom to allow absurdity to enter your own logic, the unfathomable in your own love of beauty, destructive lusts in your love of others.
This becomes visible in the suicide pictures, small oil paintings, which present different forms of suicide, such as shooting, hanging, but also self-consumption, all in beautiful colors. But there is a bond between the two artists that lies in their making use of their own individual psychic disposition, wretched though it may be, which is brought into play as creative energy.
There is less pathos in this than it may sound, but proves not to be simple, for both artists judge themselves by their own yardsticks, which thus gives rise to a kind of constant circularity that can be a state of imprisonment. Favre knows very well the strength and the hopelessness that can arise from leaving dangerous byways open.
But that is the privilege and the burden of the artist to be able to evoke these mentally and live through them without having to forfeit any capacity for life or work. Babbling a blue streak allows thoughts before sleep to be put on revue or also early in the morning when the ego searches for itself among the fragments of the dream and the first impressions of reality.
Simply the separate strands of her thick, healthy, wheat-blond Albert Anker plaits, her eyeballs, the irises of cornflower blue glinting through the tint of lead and paper.
An X-ray gaze shining at me through time and paper, looking at me. Like the ghost of my libido. I remember how I immersed myself full of passion into those drawings by copying them with a pencil. By plumbing my lead into the gaze of my mother, exactly my age, delving into her, for hours, for days. I filled over forty sheets with graphite lines, increasingly accurate, until I could circle her nose precisely and managed to expose exactly the right tiny bright spot on the tip, delicate and not too wide. With the point of my pencil I was searching out her singular essence — entirely in keeping with Roland Barthes in his book Camera Lucida , which I discovered much later and read like a novel.
Back then I did not find it. It was sunk too deep inside me, and the loss of my sweetheart from the mists of memory was too hard and painful for me to feel it at the time. But the pictures delighted my mother, who showed them proudly to her best friend Hanke, a Dutch painter. My mother had no inkling that these were dark documents, documents of a pain that led others to become criminals, henchmen, violent aggressors, and that through them I was trying to probe the reasons for that unfeelable loss of the person who took such a delight in them.
I think the statue of the Madonna that Goldmund carves for Narcissus out of wood right at the end of the novel is similar, and Goldmund was able to do it, to tread the tightrope between birth and death as he carved, because he was anticipating his own death.
With this figure that lent form to the nature of his love for and bond with his mother, he was shaping himself for and into his own death. Narcissus recognised this in the figure, but he could not recognise that his love for Goldmund was due in part to his own inability to find this figure within himself. What Goldmund says to him, with eyes that rupture, on the last page of the book, which caused me to die a little too as I read it, although with tear-oozing, not rupturing eyes. That strange, sea-filled liquid that we ooze when something touches us.
A liquid that bears irrefutable testimony to the fact that we are creatures with a body inhabited by a soul. A soul that forms as we float in the sea of our mother. A soul that forms and sleeps within our body. A force which later, when our bodies and their armoury have taken shape and often enough grown into castle defences, can blaze a trail of terrible tempests. It is the souls locked away in our bodies, writes Simone Weil, in her fundamental reflections on violence, where she describes violence not merely as activity between victims and perpetrators, but beyond this as a fundamental subjugation of humans by humans that nothing can legitimate.
In the Iliad she recognises a response to this violence that perhaps down the centuries reveals an opportunity to convert mourning for loved ones who have perished from forms of violence into perceptible pain by making it livable, by giving it language:. In any case, this poem is a miracle. Its bitterness is the only justifiable bitterness, for its springs from the subjections of the human spirit to force, that is, in the last analysis, to matter.
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This subjection is the common lot, although each spirit will bear it differently, in proportion to its own virtue. No one in the Iliad is spared by it, as no one on earth is. No one who succumbs to it is by virtue of this fact regarded with contempt. Whoever, within his own soul and in human relations, escapes the dominion of force is loved but loved sorrowfully, because of the threat of destruction that hangs constantly over him.
When I started writing my novel 13 years ago, I was alighting at the end of a long spiral of violence. A spiral that had made me a mercenary in the war for attention, that most contemporary of all wars: I had become a TV starlet.
I began to feel that I was beset with poorly perceived currents of violence. Even now they ripple through the veins of every member of my family and they were the downfall of my younger brother when he was twelve. The beginning of my escape from the spiral of violence coincided with my return to the country of my birth, Switzerland.
I came back to Switzerland to study at the Swiss Institute of Literature — or to be more precise with the writer Friederike Kretzen. In the first semester break I rented a room in the Franciscan Convent of St Joseph — in the Muota Valley in the timeworn canton of Schwyz — and observed silence. I kept silence, went on walks along the valley and to the Hell Hole , the craggy birth canal of the most notorious evildoers of the Old Confederacy, dreamed, gaped at my surroundings, yearned for a cigarette, even inflicted sexual abstinence on myself, kicked a pebble as I went, watched a little bird bobbing on a branch and caught sight of a big black raptor gliding noiselessly across the dark-hued evening sky.
Met a mountain farmer but did not greet him because I had resolved to keep silent at any cost, whereupon he — as we crossed paths on the narrow road without exchanging glances, perhaps like obdurately bitter childhood foes — evinced a guttural Wuah! I jumped out of my skin and was grateful to him. Went to sleep, slept deep, dreamed of something bright — Stichl, was hat dir getrahmt — and in my dream was startled in the field by an angel. Woke up, looked around the dark room, above me hung the crucifix with the naked body of a young man not much older than myself, sensed the pulsing darkness, the presence of the sleeping and likewise dreaming Franciscan sisters.
On the last day, following a lane that branched off the main road, I found the entrance to the Lourdes Grotto, built over the rubble of an ancient landslide. In a nutshell, fascists were men who had undergone incomplete births and whose bodies were still encased in the skin of the person they had most deeply loved and repeatedly loved as infants — and whose touch gave them at least a sense of the connection between self, skin and world.
Bodies that because they were swathed by their mothers — who in turn had been numbed and embittered by the trauma of unmourned deaths in the First World War, so that the tender membrane whose function the sons bitterly needed for their detachment process, had become anaesthetised and dysfunctional — were unable to develop a complete ego based on a stable sense of physical boundaries. Fascists were men who were covered by a stifling maternal skin and who therefore believed they were unable to grow an independent masculinity and capacity for love and who therefore — in a misguided act of liberation — knew no other solution than to blast things to pieces, with bloodbaths, with blown up asphalt surfaces, to demolish absolutely everything, to demolish the centres of Western civilisation.
Might the urge to demolish and destroy the most valuable core of experience we have be an as yet inadequately researched root of fascist totalitarian evil, whose outgrowths we are still grappling with today? Very soon a character emerged, whom I called Jeff and who devised his own plans as I wrote.
German Literary Culture at the Zero Hour (Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture)
Who turned around to face me and permitted reciprocity, allowed for a third space. But Jeff was different. He was both a survivor and dead. And something else, I saw him again recently at Fasanenhof station, reflected in a rail carriage, above him an advert for the Leuze Spa. A big, red-haired fellow in colourful rags [break]. Hello Jeff, I said.