terrain vague (2003)

cement concrete tar
athletic fields gyms spas parks
apartment houses offices industry
theater opera houses museums institutions
monuments parking lots development lots
hospitals clinics underground parking
pedestrian tunnels stadiums churches
normality poésie noir
terrains vagues

after the war, when clemenceau visited the battlefields around verdun, he saw that they were thickly covered with poppies, which turned the fields of death into bright red carpets, gently waving in the wind.

to many, terrain vague means uncultivated/wasteland, empty lot, fallow, disorder, which must be done away with quickly. but the terrain vague shows the viewer who can see, who wants to see, something else: it is a niche, which nature swallows in its own way with a succession of life forms. i always admire the wonderful world revealed on unsupervised property at the edge of the city or between buildings. first come the so-called weeds, pioneers that revitalize the land destroyed by humans, which make the land inhabitable for many living creatures. the process lasts for years, and if nobody interferes, after a period of successive plant communities, the area would become a forest: forest - the most complicated living community that once almost completely covered our earth.

a park: culturally impoverished nature: imagine the possible, enriching experiences that might exist if nature were allowed to develop freely here. one aspect of my utopia, "the wild park," and the "terrain vagues" everywhere, too, protected from destruction; park services are limited to removing the bottles of coca-cola and beer that have been thrown away. wild boars plow up the park ground. the beauty of blossoming thistles. - we wouldn't need any more plans for demolished buildings! plans would be unnecessary: new life would grow on leftover rubble. blackbirds and nightingales sing evenings and mornings. butterflies and wild bees are there, we hear toads and frogs croaking from the damps ruins of cellars. f r e e d o m has returned. the scent of flowering elderberry bushes penetrates houses through open windows, inviting us to realism: the television is turned off, superfluous.

terrain vague is the future of cities: new worlds of experience, which guide our consciousness to a different order, away from the chaos of planning. the terrain vagues are the avant-garde of nature.

robert lax wrote:

eschenau 06 17/18 2003

herman de vries, 'terrain vague', published in exhibition catalogue No art - no city! Stadtutopien in der zeitgenössischen kunst = Urban utopias in Contemporary Art : Kim Adams, Louise Bourgeois, ... a.o. / ed. Florian Matzner, Hans-Joachim Manske, Rose Pfister, ... et al. (Hatje Cantz Verlag : Ostfildern 2003) 151-153.