From the Interior of the Landscape
Holzapfel’s new pictures made of straw and cactus fibers describe the relationship between human and landscape; they translate space into surfaces. These are material pictures of the periphery – straw pictures from Lusatia and Brandenburg, chaguar plant fiber pictures from the dry forests of the Chaco in northern Argentina, pictures and folds of interconnected straw, line spaces in which light is refracted, reticulated woven textile pictures of cactus fibers colored with materials extracted from the plants in the environs. In them, traditional motifs are combined with contemporary compositions of paths, spirals, and fields to yield landscape-like pictorial spaces. Holzapfel’s works, created with ancient craft techniques, blur, within contemporary art, the strict separation of nature and culture. Are line spaces and networks exclusively contemporary terms of a digitalized, media world? Holzapfel’s dealings with living forms of crafts suggest that the contradiction between tradition and modernity can be viewed as a bygone construct, as mere appearance that glorifies landscape as an Arcadian subconscious. Instead, the artist is interested in landscape as a reservoir of its own media technology, with a presence of the approximate, of the recurring dimensions of plants, of the systematics of even inhospitable rural regions. He thereby counters a view of truth and reality shaped by theoretical conceptions with an action and the material that lead to a picture.
The spaces that are meanwhile virtually retrievable everywhere and at all times via GPS coordinates or actually as urban space are juxtaposed and compared with what we call nature, wilderness, or landscape to produce the disturbing fascination of his new works. Until now, nature was usually perceived as a depiction or a resource – whereby it produces its pictures in direct exchange with itself. Thus, Holzapfel’s pictures tell us something about our relationship to nature and landscape, about our relational being, about the similarity and comparability of modern and archaic, urban and rural models of spatial organization. They draw their beauty from their simultaneity – they originate from the interior of the landscape in which they are made, and the question arises whether these pictures of the periphery are not in reality the beginning of a new center and perhaps already inscribed in it, and whether the contradiction between wilderness and order, between nature and culture actually exists or is only a theoretical construct that keeps us within the interior of a human egocentrism and blocks our view of their natural kinship.
The first chaguar pictures were created in collaboration with the northern Argentinian Indios, the Wichis, and were first exhibited in 2009 in Buenos Aires and then at the Venice Biennale 2011. Later, Holzapfel created additional individual pictures that can now be viewed as autonomous pictorial works. They provide examples of the ambiguity of seemingly fixed categories of a modernity enclosed within itself and prepared for random access. For it remains simply unclear whether their theme is determined by a recollection of the Bauhaus, by digital designs, or by the technique and craft of the Indios. Holzapfel’s artistic practice thus proves once more to be shaped by a nomadic, alternative thinking that includes the fissure and that brings contraries together to advance to new shores.