Intimate but Silent Viewing and Dialogue
Alternative Creative Form and Thought in Environmental Art (summary)
Over the last few years art festivals have gradually become a new trend in Taiwan. As a result, art / activities / bustling with noise and excitement have all but become synonymous with one another. It is with this new emphasis on the culture of "dialogue" that the "intimate but silent viewing and dialogue" between people and art, or people and their environment, seems to have almost faded from memory or been sqeezed from our consciousness. Against this background a discussion of Lars Koepsel´s latest piece, wherein he paints the word "Come" in Chinese on many of the trees in Ta-An Park, but in a way that is not too ostentatious, may well serve to inspire us.
An Introduction and Analysis of the Work "KOMM"
First of all, this exhibition is designed in such a way that it has no harmful or detrimental effect on the natural environment whatsoever. The materials used include beer, plastic, white powder and with coloring that are non toxic or polluting to the environment. These visual symbols are not loud and gaudy and therefore do not pollute our visual experience of nature either. They are small in size and will naturally fade away in time. From the perspective of conducting a dialogue it does not try to force our participating. One may inadvertantly come across the work only to find that just a few days later it has already disappeared. As soon as one´s sensibilities have been aroused every time you see trees it becomes impossible not to here the echo of Lars Koepsel´s piece reverberating in one´s mind with each encounter one has.
It could be said that this work reproduces the existing power of nature in a way that is most natural and least conspicuous, allowing new dialogue and the establishment of new contacts between man and the gentle force of nature. This is the most important function played by Lars work - as a medium of contact with nature. It does not adress such questions as what constitutes man or nature, and Lars does not wish to waste his artistic energy in pursuit of such answers. There may be those who think that as a result his work says to little. In point of fact "reconnecting" the relationship between man and nature is the focal point of his work. The artist sees himself as a silent fascilitator, bringing this long parted sides to a new dialogue. He has less interest in actually introducing the two as they already stand facing each other. Indeed, there is an inherent fear that an extra sentence may merely turn into an additional layer of misunderstanding. In fact, this fear is the main reason for the minimalism of the work and the motivation behind the artist´s relative silence.
"KOMM" Mutual Listening Wihout Demands
When Lars paints the Chinese character for "Come" on the trees in Ta-An Park, trees of all sizes, that have not known loneliness or dispute, with their unlimited gentleness and resoluteoness, become undemanding "listeners". They come closer to you or wait for you to come closer to them, adopting listening postures, with no demands and no pressure. Only similarly inclined individuals willing to listen and get closer to people without making demands of them can open this window of no word s and infinity. It is through this window that we are reconnected to the magnificence and gentleness of the life force of nature. This is in fact one of man´s original abilities, but something he has long since forgotten.
Enclosed in its own isolation this piece in effect serves as a mirror through which the audience viewing it is defined, making it a solitary, modest and open work. It listens and encourages selfless giving, enabling people to become genuinely strong and stable. In additon to the first and second types of dialogue discussed above there is a third type, which is the most common of all. Artists use many powerful lights, sounds and provoking content to stimulate their audiences, so that for a brief period those participating feel full of life and forget their loneliness. But afterwards the weakness is still there and loneliness continues to follow and consume you. The third type is like a powerfull anaesthetic with side effects. The first merely diagnoses the symptoms of the problem and expands the healed area so that people feel even more self pity. However, the second type emphasized by the artist forces us to conduct dialogue with a deeply humble energy, a natural treatment that allows one to gradually become stronger and more stable. From another perspective this piece offers us something different to what we have come to expect, a consumer idea whereby those viewing art demand that the object being viewed provide them with some service or other immediately.
From many different aspects, Lars Koepsel´s work brings to mind a number of problems with the art industry today in Taiwan. For example, how are we reassess "objects" and "ourselves". This is a question that any artist involved in "Public Art", "Environmental Art" or still broader categories of "Art" cannot avoid. It is also time for those who pay to consume / art purveyors to reconsider and grasp the point that "viewing art involves giving and creation".