In his many journeys to other places in the world, however exotic or remote those places may seem to be, it is what de vries prosaically calls the 'facts' that make their way into the journals that he creates as a documentation and a record. As with the seeings of my beings, it is what singles itself out from the infinite diversity of possibilities that is caught in the frames of the journals, which are composed of random samples thus encountered in whatever place the artist finds himself at a given moment. How could any plant, blade of grass, leaf, shell, rabbit dropping or earth specimen be more significant than any other? Every natural object is like Blake's 'ev'ry bird' - 'an immense world of delight'. 'If the doors of perception were cleansed' wrote Blake elsewhere, thinking of the 'clos'd senses five', 'every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.' For de vries, the opening of the senses - sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell - and the consequent expansion of consciousness are primary purposes of art [...]
On the title page to his diary of a visit to pashupatinath, january-february 1989 de vries appends a further note: with some additional facts from kirtipur, patan, nagarkot vajra bahini, kathmandu and pokhara. This elaboration serves both to make for accuracy of record and to enact in the procession of names the progression of his journey. But by his simple description of the entries in the journal as 'facts' - they include, as do all the journals, plant specimens, fronds and single leaves, earth rubbings, photographs of natural objects and cultural artefacts - de vries is subverting the Wittgensteinian distinction so baldly stated in Tractatus 1.1: 'The world is the totality of facts, not of things.' Things, for de vries, are facts, and contra Wittgenstein (Tractatus 1.2), 'the world' does not 'divide into facts' but is composed of things. They may fall into generic categories but the things here present in the journals are of a specific place collected at a particular time: Mouans-Sartoux (1991), Leros and Patmos (1996), l'Île Sainte Marguerite (9th April 1997), Gomera (2000), Eschenau (2002), etc.read more »
Passage from Mel Gooding, herman de vries : chance and change (Thames and Hudson : London 2006) 91, 95-96.
im winter auf dem grossen knetzberg • ein journal, 2013 [photo Bruno Schneyer, Zeil am Main]