Preview Friday 31st May 2013, 6 to 9pm
Opening in the presence of the artist: Friday 28 June, 6 to 9pm
Im Wald, im Wald! da konnt ich führen
Ein freies Leben mit Geistern und Tieren;
Feen und Hochwild von stolzem Geweih,
Sie nahten sich mir ganz ohne Scheu.
Heinrich Heine (from Waldeinsamkeit)
(In the woods, in the woods! There I could lead /A free life with spirits and animals; /Fairies and deers with proud antlers /they approached me without fear)
The times you wish to walk out, withdraw, pull out of the game because it has become just a game. Disengage…
Suffering from a sexually transmitted disease, Heinrich Heine spends the last years of his life semi paralysed and partly blind in Paris. There he composes Waldeinsamkeit, in which he recalls a nature retreat in Helgoland shortly before his decision to divert his Romantic energies away from poetry and into the political battles of restoration Europe. Twenty years on, 1851, looking back, the incompatibility he used to make between poetry and his philosophical and political writing seems nonsensical; he now assesses, through his renewed poetic drive, that the revelry, the myths, the magical world of tales and the private realm of the imagination, are in fact an essential part in the struggle against the reactionary -religious or Jacobins- forces of his time.
Around the same time in Concord, USA, a man sets out to live in a forest for two years, two months and two days. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life”. In Walden or a life in the woods, this man, Henry David Thoreau argues the importance of solitude, contemplation, and closeness to nature in finding the true self and transcending “the life of quiet desperation which most men lead”.
The creation of public parks attempted the reciprocal taming of nature and men, offering “public walks calculated to promote the health and comfort of the inhabitants”, because “want of recreation generated incipient disease, discontent; which in its turn led to attacks upon the Government”. But from the outset, parks were used in ways which deeply disturbed some public minds. Ensuing moral panics, regulation and further, constantly shifting, uses, they remained ideal spaces of appropriation, contestation and debate; where norms of behaviour could be forged, contested or established; and where behaviour beyond the norms could retain the Romantic appeal of transgression.
“A Walk in the park” is a feature length work by Stefan Hoderlein filmed using a thermographic camera. This technology developed for security and military purposes is used here to capture the perimeters of a bucolic cruising ground near Düsseldorf.
The camera operates outside the spectrum of visible light: it maps the territory of heat. All objects emit a certain amount of infrared radiation as a function of their temperature. Trees, benches, people. The film’s thermal images are bright, intense colours, pseudo-colours. Each colour represents a different temperature: white and red, traditionally but subjectively, used for higher temperatures, to green, blue and violet for colder ones. Darkness transforms into light. For Hoderlein, directness, honesty, the celebratory and rude pride. By other means, what can’t be seen will be made to be seen.
The individual with intentional stance enacts a temporary walkout; performing the pragmatic in the face of impossibility, joining in an irrational illusory social loophole, celebrating the joy of this delimited pastoral precinct, where the weight of society is lifted collectively in the company of men.
The halted traveller surveying the countryside; the hermit in the undergrowth, shed of his possessions, seeking simplicity in the poverty of connections; the nature, empty screen to project our grief; the hunter in the solitude, cock as bait, catching a reflection of himself; the magical pull of some untamed wilderness, domesticated; and the moments of madness; trolls and living nightmares caught between the liminal dreamscape, fog and redemption, wanderlust in a timeless idyll; and the walker slow-pacing with affected nonchalance, measuring the territory, roaming down utopia drive; the loneliness, the eternal pain, the horror, awe; the bug chaser catching his death; desire and apprehension, the ritualistic and the kinship