Christiane Fichtner

Archivtexte Archivtext November 2005
      ¬ Burkhard Straßmann, Bremen
      ¬ Translation Office Bauer, Bremen
      ¬ A village is not a town

      ¬ deutsch::: english ::: francais


So far, there are two projects growing at the académieGalan in the south west of France: the "Laotian Village" and "...steadfast..."
Both are co-operations between the académieGalan in Galan (F) and the School of Art in Bremen (D)

A village is not a town. Someone settles and builds, someone digs and founds, someone places his tent somewhere. From the distance an old tractor approaches hissing, towing a construction wagon and there is one more person already. First they have to skip over stinging nettles to visit each other, then trampled paths spring up between the little houses, huts and earth holes and one day they meet for a big discussion: What shall we do with the space in-between? A piece of stamped clay, a few metres of box tree hedge, a rose, which needs to be watered every day - that could after all be the beginning of something. Of something communal. Maybe even social.

The Laotian village is neither Laotian, nor a village. However, at least it exists. You can go there. You may go there. Maybe you should go there. Since 1997, this non-village has existed as an art project of the Bremen School of Art. Since then it has been quietly developing in a particularly marginal location - on the south west border of France, on the border of the Pyrenees, on the border of "Jacobs Path", which takes pilgrims to Santiago di Compostella, on the outskirts of the completely remote little village, Galan, with its 800 residents and on the banks of the mostly very small little river Baisole. The Laotian village is the first project of the Bremen art professor, Rolf Thiele, and the work of art académieGalan on this six hectare piece of land, this meadow, the terrain which descends to the mostly very small river Baisole, that was dedicated to art. Or rather deconstruction in art. Or even better: the non-art as art.

A slope, a meadow, a river bend, several objects standing around which, when looked at more closely, can turn out to be accommodation, graves, towers, memorials or magic building constructions. In the Laotian village in Galan artists meet art students, combatants in the battle for a lively art term people, who are electrified by the term "aesthetic of overtaxing". People, who love art, rub shoulders with those who do not know exactly, but want to know. You can live, work artistically, eat, argue, drink and become enslaved by wild thoughts. It concerns a provisional discourse, which at the same time is an individual serious matter. It can take place in Galan and it is even the rule that you lose a feeling of security, move away from efficiency and productivity, lose your material and quite without a concept press the restart button. This is why Galan is a place of desire. The wild thoughts permit the inconceivable: that there could be something authentic; that art could appear from the non-art , which heals the separations of the modern age; that thinking and art could become one and thinking does not mean cold dry analysis, but entering "into the labyrinth, allowing a labyrinth to emerge, to be lost in aisles, which only exist because we incessantly dig these", as the philosopher, Cornelius Castoriadis, put it into words.

Now it concerns the spaces in between. Or to be more imprecise: countryside. The second Galan project is called "...steadfast..." – artists' garden in Galan. Some also speak of the labyrinth thinking. Here it concerns nature between the culture and the wonderful chance to make the work with vegetation almost completely spared by customary art access an issue: Garden art is B art, scorned and does not first have to be deconstructed to non-art in order to be non-art. Maybe, because the material is so stubborn as it actually lives itself. It is subject to its own genetic laws, grows, transforms, implements, leaves, decays. The material of garden art is difficult to plan. You have to speak about the weather. You even have to be humble, attentive, you have to take care of it. The artistic-aesthetic examinations thus cover the own way of life. A project full of tempting risks. And with a surprising level of responsibility as the artist/gardener has to deal with anachronistic long periods of time.

The project "...steadfast..." is designed on a European level in the sense that it takes place in Bremen, Riga and Galan and has been running since Summer 2005. Besides gardens and interventions into the landscape an archive, a magazine, a film, an Internet page and an edition are planned. However, only one thing is certain so far that all participants have the unique opportunity to lose themselves in the labyrinths of their own and the prevailing Laotian-chaotic thinking there. As labyrinth art is a subversive discipline of landscape planning, it is potential art: "Only that which is impossible can happen" (Thiele).

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