the world we live in is a revelation that can be 'read', experienced. everything we experience or are able to experience is significant for itself and for everything. we can find this significance everywhere around us. but as plastics, cars, computers and icecream have in the first place significance for our human life and culture, plants, trees, birds flying, earth and the streams of water are of more general significance, because they form part of our primary reality, nature. that many of us do not know anything anymore of this primary reality is dramatic, makes life poor, makes culture poor, but does not change the actuality of its primarity.
around our house is only a small garden. many plants grow there of many species and all kinds of insects abound around and between. but the richness of it is only seen by her or him who can see. i collected from all the different species in this little garden one leaf and mounted them on the surface of paper. a multitude of forms became visible in "forms from the garden".
there are artists who use natural materials. they create with natural materials or take them into their work. not me. the difference is that they use natural materials- i only present them. i have nothing to add, nothing to change, only to respect - because of the revelatory character of everything in the natural world. here i find my identity. when i look and see a grass, a tree, a stream, it becomes part of my identity, inner and outer world unite. my food becomes me - i become my food. all and everything that is material shows at the same time its transcendence. physics and metaphysics are one.
to be all ways to be to be to be ways all to be to be to be.
once i published a book: i am what i am - flora incorporata. it contains the names of all the species of plants that i remembered to have taken in me. as food, for healing, for change of mind, for free insights so as peyote, psilocybe, datura. they cleansed my view, cleansed my senses, made me free to see.
as a child i had a deep mystic feeling for nature. sometimes in a quiet spot in the dunes on the coast of holland, i undressed myself and pressed my body to the earth and felt a great joy. or, as a little boy, i fixed my eyes on the endless rolling waves of the sea and fell into a light trance. later, i did scientific work for two institutes for research in nature. i studied the geographic distribution of small mammals, i studied the food of waterrats, i studied the food habits of weasels and wild cats - but i was never so close anymore. taking psychedelics liberated my view of many conditions and the old relationship was renewed.
in the early sixties i exhibited my work in zero context. we liberated seeing by stripping away all the unneeded and zero remained. this position is still mine - the facts i do show now (since 1970) are no longer the empty white surfaces or randomly distributed elements, but 'the real works' from nature. my studio is about 200 km² around and always there where i am.
1972 i wrote on a walk in our vast forests:
my poetry is the world
i write it every day
i rewrite it every day
i see it every day
i read il every day
i eat it every day
i sleep it every day
the world is my chance
it changes me every day
my chance is my poetry
this line of thought is still guiding me now. i have nothing to say: it is all here.
art is not definable. every definition of it is a limitation. but for me it has to do with the formulation of consciousness or with the process of becoming conscious. this consciousness i see happening around me in nature and i show what i have seen happening, what i have seen being.
this and no thing
here and everywhere
eschenau, october 1992
|2011 to present|
herman de vries, 'the world we live in is a revelation', in Vittorio Fagone (ed.), Ars in natura (Mazzotta Edizioni : Milano 1992). Reprinted in to be : texte - textarbeiten - textbilder (Stuttgart 1995) 156-158 and in and in Nature / ed. by Jeffrey Kastner. Documents of contemporary art (Whitechapel Gallery, London / MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 2012) 163-164.