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in the thick of life (2004/2005)

[page 72]
'sitting in the train from arnhem to frankfurt' [untitled (in de trein van arnhem naar frankfurt...) original dutch text. first published in the exhibition catalogue herman de vries. random line - and dot grid structures / chance and change situations, galerie swart, amsterdam, 1974. see page 5] is a short text herman de vries wrote in 1973. i particularly like the black and white text and the grey areas it treats. the subject is movement; a train's journey from arnhem to frankfurt, with chance movements seen through the carriage window; ponies, snowflakes, a crow and even shifting thoughts. passing wagon-loads of coal are seen as energy in transit, life on the move: [...] "'chance & change', i wrote in my notebook, 4th july 1970, in teheran, on the road from arnhem to bombay and the seychelles, to buy there with friends an island, to live there. the island is not bought. chance & change - change and chance."

herman de vries evoked movement, flux and change as early as 1968 in a text called de lijnen [2. original dutch text in 'de lijnen v68-161' [arnhem] : published by integration [herman de vries], 1968. cf. catalogue raisonné no. 9]. "lines are like dams in water. the eye is forced to climb over them as if they were obstacles. it can also skirt round as water does. alternatively one can follow the line or walk along the dam noting changes in the surrounding environment. indeed the eye's position is an observation point wilt respect to the water's surface. a line is therefore like a series of 'argument points'" [wittgenstein's argumenstellen]. "following it, going around or climbing over it, imply a change of perspective and viewpoint."

seen from here. herman de vries settles his gaze upon the world around him. things seen, absorbed - everything within his ken - becomes fodder and fuel for his work.
"meaning is visible everywhere" he concluded in his text in der landschaft [in the landscape] [3. in egoist n° 15, ed. adam seide, frankfurt am main, 1969. the text was composed by randomly picking sentences from books randomly chosen from the shelves of herman de vries' personal library. the first sentence to be picked therefore served as a title for the work. herman de vries confirmed this in a letter he sent to me, writing that "it was good luck, see page 301] and the words of his exposition complète de luang-prabang poster were even more explicit; "poésie actuelle. exposition complète de luang-prabang comprenant tous les éléments de paysage de ville et tous les objets, vivants et morts de la région de luang-prabang. l'exposition est ouverte tous les jours, par tous les temps à continuer partout et par tous" [poetry now. complete exhibition of luang-prabang including all elements of the town landscape and all things both alive and dead in the region of luang-prabang. the exhibition is open every day come wind or shine and continues everywhere with everyone] [4. asiatische & eschenauer texte, portfolio, bern: artists' press, 1975. cf. catalogue raisonné n° 30].
each point of view constitutes a slice of reality in the thick of life.
in each book that herman de vries publishes, makes or edits, he unveils and helps us discover this vision of life. we are free to share it, to see or not see it. publishing could be defined as making something public or well-known and herman de vries' books and publications are clearly works involved in communication and relationships.

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Didier Mathieu, 'in the thick of life', in herman de vries. les livres & les publications : catalogue raisonné (centre des livres d'artistes/pays-paysage : saint-yrieix-la-perche 2005) 72-81. Also in French and German.

Didier Mathieu

Didier Mathieu is director of the Centre des livres d'artistes (cdla). The Centre, which has been based in Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche since 1994, is the culmination of a project initiated at the end of the 1980s by the association Pays-paysage. The two principal activities of the cdla are the creation and management of a collection of artists' books, and the organisation of exhibitions in France and also abroad.

2010: 'Publications d’artistes, en séries, à géométrie et périodicité variables. Un réseau de dispersion des idées et des oeuvres', in 2.0.1. Revue de recherche du l'art au XIXe au XXe siècle, Dossier hors série 'Revues d'artistes' (February 2010).

2007: 'herman de vries', in exhibition cataloge herman de vries / lefevre jean claude / oxo - pascal le coq / hans waanders / éric watier / textes de herman de vries, et al. Catalogue de l’exposition éponyme au Musée royal de Mariemont, Morlanwelz (Co-édition cdla/Musée royal de Mariemont : Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche etc. 2007) 11-44.

2004: 'in the thick of life', in herman de vries : les livres & les publications. catalogue raisonné (centre des livres d'artistes/pays-paysage : saint-yrieix-la-perche 2005) 72-81. Also in French and German.

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