I had travelled to Waren an der Müritz in North Eastern Germany, had rented a tiny vacation apartment there and was looking forward to exciting photo motives.
But I was frustrated. The Müritz National Park looked hardly like wilderness, the landscape surrounding it: rather sterile and tidy. A private aircraft museum on the Southern shore of Lake Müritz was a bright spot. There is no modern museum education and professional presentation. The horror of the death machines disappears in the fascination of the technology. I admired the aesthetic shapes, that inspired me as an artist. Still, I could not escape the fact that these machines were optimized to end human lives. In the evening, I sat in my little vacation box and listened to the recently discovered music of Rayland Baxter. I was tired from the exhausting lake circumnavigation with my bike and looked at the new pictures.
Like an absurd rhyme to the horror symbolized by the war equipment,
I saw shapes with poetic power everywhere. I felt that this was a strong base for a new collage. And so I began cutting out objects, moving them back and forth, forgetting time and space around me. For a long time this looked like unmotivated junk glued together. Only the picture of Anna Elisabeth Dickinson (1842-1932, an American author and women's rights activist) changed that. For me, the portrait gives the impression of a great peace of mind. I find strength, obstinacy and beauty in it. It is fascinating that of my multitude of historical portraits, it is clearly this one that fits best. I have often compared my pictures with poems. The impressions and grace of the individual elements relate to each other like rhymes. This portrait responds to the war equipment like a rhyme and changes them. The aggressive, death-bringing does not disappear, but it is extended and put into a different context. The overall ensemble reminds me of a personality that has integrated the fragile and defensive into a tranquil force. Once the collage was finished in its outlines, I too felt a little at peace with myself.
Suitable music for this artwork: I recommend "No time for crying"
by Mavis Staples