KAUNTRI

is the overall title for various installations and series of drawings engaging with a still prevalent, originally romantic notion of ‘Nature‘. In my project FORSTGOTTHEITEN / DEITIES OF THE FOREST (2010 - 2014), I focussed on the typically German veneration of the wood, a concept that has shaped my perception, too. HOMMES DE TERRE, on the other hand, referred to a rather Swiss fenomenon: the glorification of an imagined “authentic peasant“, a fictional character who supposedly represents the truth of being Swiss.

‘Nature‘ as the palladium of the genuine and the good, a screen to project all sorts of longings onto— is a fantasy that could only emerge in a society whose contact to their natural environment was increasingly becoming detached and problematic.

While Romanticism set about to supersede enlightment, mills were popping up all over Europe: here, the Romanticists themselves or their contemporaries were manufacturing products of slave labour, and cheap raw materials reaped overseas, while burning the coal hauled by the proletariat at home. The plantations in the colonies preceded and outlined the forms of excessive, industrialised agriculture that were later to become the standard in the colonisers‘ countries, too. In the meantime, ‘Nature‘ for the new bourgeoisie was no longer experienced as a habitat that could be nurturing, and at times threatening. Thus it could morph into a new concept: from then on ‘Nature‘ was imagined as landscape: a picture.

Up to today, we accept the destruction of the environment for the sake of our comfort, while at the same time, we continue to “love nature“, and to reach out for it as a Sehnsuchtsort, a field of desires we may visit, yet do not belong to.


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