Andreas Hahn: Künstler / Artist

la vida es bella

~The island as a gallery (notes)

La Palma 2008-2009

The island’s character is varied. Roughly divided, it consists of three parts: 

The barren and largely black, hot southern part, one side of which is defined by extinct volcanic craters, boulders and black sand. On the other side, the deep blue ocean stretches into infinite.

The green and fertile north shows itself with its reddish-brown soil, where besides numerous almond trees, primeval forests exist, where large ferns, oak and laurel forests cover the rugged land.

The centre has a more balanced appearance. It is not by chance that many villages and small towns are found here with their rich and colourful flowers everywhere. The balanced aesthetic architecture is captivating with its harmonious colour schemes.

Life there is unhurried and permeated with a strong spirit as far as its inhabitants are concerned.

Three completely different inner forces drove me to designate the island as a gallery:

First, the variety of colours as well as the polarity between the green and the black inspired me to want to place my own colour compositions into a relationship with this environment.

Second, my breakaway from two-dimensionality (described in Thoughts) and the selection of very diverse working materials urged me to place them in an unrestricted and playful freedom in the most varied of settings and relationships. This was an enriching and even gratifying act, which was always embraced by the vast ocean and the expansive blue sky. 

Third, a rumour came my way that a motorway project was being planned as a result of a huge financial grant from the ever-so-generous EU. This project seemed disproportionate and not only to me. It prompted me to reproduce my photographs of the different installations and sell them. The proceeds were used to create a fund to help with possible legal costs.

Light, warmth and the diverse aesthetic spaces made it possible to find and explore new and unfamiliar ways.

A toilet bowl grants its user a superficial moment of consciousness, when his or her urgent human needs take over, or, its hygienic condition attacks his sense of smell in an unpleasant way. After the session is completed, the mindless and relieved user leaves this confined space and closes the door with all due care. 

Hectic everyday life in these fast-moving times prevents one from thanking this precious object that is so essential and convenient for our survival, let alone its inventor. Unconscious habits and customs leave no room whatsoever for an extended, in-depth contemplation of this item. 

Are we aware of its aesthetics and likewise of the litres of precious water that run – several times a day – through this glossed over vessel? Does both the object and its purpose arouse a feeling, or a thought, that, for example, a majority of our sisters and brothers with whom we share this beautiful blue planet drink only from puddles? Does this self-evident fact also mean that, with this inattentive usage, we want to hand over the climate issue into the hands of vain functionaries and a cold, unpredictable artificial intelligences? 

Well then, consequently, I was motivated to take this daily functional object out of its usual, spatially limited captivity, free it from its banishment, provide it with a protective cover and colour and place it in a new, completely unfamiliar environment, in an enchanting landscape. 

All of a sudden, our visual and perceptual habits are agitated, even provoked; possible feelings of antipathy and subsequent thoughts spar within us as to what a toilet might be doing there in the first place. In short, our tolerance levels are stretched to the limit. We might qualify this act as a nonsensical gimmick instead of approaching this unknown situation in an unbiased and open manner. 

All of the above actually took place when I, in my artistic search, lived on San Miguel de la Palma between 2000 and 2009. I learned to love and respect this earthly spot in the vast ocean, its people and its nature, so much so, that after a thorough examination of my conscience, I turned this green island into a gallery and thus learned to perceive its beauty more intensely.

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