Talking about the birds

There is this thing about birds, that if they are used to symbolize humans in a composition/painting/collage – we do accept them as humans, there is nothing alien about them, no uncanny valley stuff at all. And at the same time they mostly do not really bring their own character- or so I think.

I have the impression that if I were to use other animals then we have more of an idea of what that animal symbolizes. Insects are NOT human, they are a danger and mammals are surrounded by the stories we heard about them in our childhoods or what they mean for us as food or their economic meaning or as pets. They immediately have character, or symbolize something.

At first I have used humans made from 3D puppets in my artworks, but even though I still like those works, it was also too flat. I have also made works with pictures of real humans and tried to use their stories in my artworks but then it became too personal for a couple of them and therefore I stopped having permission to use these compositions in exhibitions or for sale.

Birds have no baggage, they are not us – some say they are not even real – they are beautiful reptiles with wings. This makes them ideal to use as characters in my future compositions because we can somehow identify or bond with them or ascribe them human qualities, emotions or so – but they are also not us, they are neutral. I could also use reptiles, I think, but I have more pictures with birds in them.

Saint Stephan the Drunk – Framed 2013-1

Materials: Wood, fiber composite material, paint, cardboard, rusted metal parts, cloth, print
Print: Photolux Professional Matte 230
Print-size middle panel: 90 cm * 60 cm
Print-size side panels: 45 cm * 60 cm
Total-size: appr. 250 cm * 95 cm
Based on: Saint Stephan the Drunk, Lets call it Paradise, Fallen from Grace

Saint R. (2012 – 2013)

Train tracks going through a city are at the same time part of the city and not part of the city: a city is build for people, but you can not live there, you are not even allowed there. Same goes for high ways, sub-way tunnels and garbage dumps. I sometimes use these places as symbols for the border lands of our society.

A border separates and also creates order: these people belong over there and we live over here, and -according to some-that is how it is supposed to be. Certain thinkers have pointed out that Europe has the tendency to create places where that what does not fit in society will be banished to, like the terminally ill, the mentally unstable, the disabled, those with grotesque appearances and the criminal minds. These are the places where that what is deemed unclean, unholy, non-rational and unacceptable is expelled to, surrounded by a set of boundaries of their own.

Most of the times people are put there against their will. But there are also people who choose to step outside of the grandeur Europe/the western world has to offer, and they try to create their own place of refuge with their own rules.

Saint Stephan the Drunk – Triptychon (2010-2012)

He was robbed and died about a year after I made the photos this triptychon was based on. He has seen the first results of my work, but never the finished project. He is still on my facebook feed. If I send him my prayers in a direct message, will he pass them on to god for me? I’m not sure I want the winged guys on either side of him to be my messengers, but maybe that is just me.

I wrote the following about the piece in 2015 for an exhibition (translated in German):

“Der heilige Stefan der Besoffene (2012/2013) ist ein Porträt von einem der vielen die der Filmriss zum Lebensentwurf gemacht haben. Sind sie Kinder der Sechziger auf der Suche nach Selbstauflösung, sind sie kranke Süchtigen oder sind sie Schamanen/Propheten in ihrem Rausch? Ist diese Symbolik ein Gespenst unserer Vergangenheit oder zeigt es eine Zukunft? Oder was gewesen ist, ebendas wird sein, und was geschehen ist, ebendas wird geschehen, und es gibt gar nichts Neues unter der Sonne.”

Size: 80 x 60 cm @300dpi
Pixelsize: 9449 px * 7087 px
Origin: Composition made with photos, some 3D

New Saints Triptych (2003)

These three works are my first successful attempts to create digital art: A young woman smiling, destined to be a saint in a bleak world, a woman gave birth to her to-be saint son, destined to become a martyr in this dying world, a dying saint, a young man, a fish watching him from a polluted sea. The description for all three works in this series is the same:

In these series I tried to combine the idea of a religious painting with the way we have come to look at our future: dark, filled with industrial waste, or maybe we are living on other planets, who knows. What will our saints look like? Will there ever be new saints when we leave our solar system? Or is this an Earth-bound phenomenon?

The idea of having saints in the dark future that might lie ahead could be comforting one, we might really need them. Or maybe the idea is an impossible one, I don’t know.

Size: 47x67cm @300dpi
Pixelsize: 5551px*7915px
Origin: Composition made with photos, scans from books and magazines, some 3D.

Why New Saints? Why Alien Saints?

Whenever I meet punks who are begging for scraps, I tend to see them as the modern day mendicant monks, beger monks living on alms – maybe we should ask them to pray for us after we have given them some coins. They know what it is to endure hardship, to suffer.  I think it is about time we start to acknowledge that they are our modern day saints, our martyrs, our very own holy men and women. I think it would be fitting.