Angels – a series of sculptures
My wife, Anne-Sophie (AnSo), died on 20 May 2017.
For 4 years we had already lived with the diagnosis of cancer and the certainty of her imminent death.
4 years full of hopes and fears, grief, pain and love. 4 years of chemotherapy and hospital stays. But also beautiful holidays on warm islands and full of love.
After Anso’s death, I have settled both our homes and lives and travelled around the world.
On this trip I made first sketches of what the Angels were going to be.
Angels, because angels are fleeting beings who can walk between worlds and (perhaps) bridge the gap between life and death. Because they are beautiful, because they are better than us and because they can be played wonderfully creatively.
And because Anne-Sophie was my angel. During our time she taught me a lot and maybe made me a better person.
Now she’s gone, I’m still here. And 2 years after her death I find the strength to continue the project „Angels“ and to give it a meaning for me. This sculptures mark a small interim stand in September 2019.
In 2 years the Angels have experienced some changes. In the beginning there was only helplessness and pain and complaint.
Later, when the idea of „typographic wings“ was born, the texts were still quite self-pitying and lamenting.
In the further development of the sculptures I then tried to take a step back and formulate the texts in a more general way. Or to turn their meaning around in such a way that they exhort to live this short, small life in the best possible way, full of joy, lust, love and responsibility. I have experienced howquickly it can be over.
This sculpture is based on a charcoal drawing from my figure drawing class.During transport, another drawing left some black marks, which made me think of transparent wings. I changed the wings several times, both text-wise and formally, up to the final form and text. The oath that AnSo and I made and kept:
In good times and in bad
until death do us part
“In good times and in bad
until death do us part”
A classic marriage vow.
But it also applies to each and every one of us: body, mind and soul are firmly married. Divorce is not possible! So it would advisable to treat ourselves well. We have to endure it with ourselves, in good and bad times „until death do us part“.
„What would you do today if you would die tomorrow“
This Angel is the only one that was created during Anso’s lifetime. I shaped it when AnSo was in the hospice and was in a bit of a hurry because I wanted her to still see it.
It was a strange, unnameable feeling to watch AnSo in her hospice room fade away for days and weeks.
How life faded from a lively, athletic woman and how her radius of action became increasingly smaller until she didn’t even want to leave the little room.
How one of the smartest people I ever knew, through pain and strong medication, became less and less aware of the world and walked more and more in a shadowy realm, where she had less and less contact with me and the other visitors.
Like a beautiful flame that slowly fades. A fire that was vanishing, more and more ethereal, less and less „of this world“. That’s what I tried to depict with this sculpture.
The typographic wings were only added two and a half years later, when the series of „Angels“ was formed in its present form.
AnSo HAS seen the first 3D print and considered it good. But maybe she just wanted to be nice and encouraging, as she always was. After all, she advised me to become less concrete and detailed in the physical forms. That’s what I tried to follow.
If you were to die tomorrow, what would you do today?
Would you surround yourself with the people you surround yourself with today?
Would you do the work you do today?
Would you want to say something to someone else?
What would you do?
Why don’t you do it?
„Ein Mensch ist in seinem Leben wie Gras“
Here the text was provided, and I tried to design the sculpture accordingly:
The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more
Psalm 103 – Verses 15-16
AnSo has quoted this text repeatedly in her diary and in her last short story and it has touched me every time. At first I resisted it and thought „Never! My flower, your place will always know you“. But it is not like that. Even if we, who loved her, keep her in our hearts: Her apartment has long since been newly rented, her job has long since been reassigned. The painful, open wound in my heart has closed, scarred slowly, bleeds and hurts less and less. And that’s probably a good thing…
If this is true, then we can only blossom as colourfully and smell as well as possible before the wind blows us away. And have fun with it.
„Remind yourself that you are already part of a larger story“
I sculpted „Remind yourself“ very close to the original sketch. Where even the text is already assigned to this special figure. The idea with the „winged typography“ did not exist at that time. The sketch was made in January 2018 on the terrace of my beach bungalow on Ko Lanta, Thailand.
I like to provide my sketches with „random“ texts, which can be heard on the radio, in podcasts, audiobooks, in the neighbourhood, or just in my head. This sometimes results in something that is better than I could have imagined. „Serendipity“, in other words.
So, to this day I don’t know in which context this sentence belongs:
„remind yourself that you are already part of a larger story“
But it seemed appropriate.
We are interwoven in a great net:
Horizontally with all the people we meet and influence and are influenced by.
Vertically with our ancestors, without whom we would not be, and our descendants, who would not be without us.
Perhaps we are not so important? Maybe everything is all right?
„War schoen mit dir“
The sketch for this sculpture was done in March 2018 during an anatomy course in Las Vegas, when we modeled a trapeze artist. Hence the floating pose.
Later I sculpted her, but she seemed very pathetic and I didn’t really know how to continue. So, she lay fallow for a long time, until the final text came to her.
„(It)was nice with you“
is a sentence AnSo must have left me a hundred times on one of her „tea bag pack letters“ after a weekend together. (We lived in 2 different cities until the end). I have always loved these letters, but now that nobody writes them to me anymore, I miss them even more….
If you wrote yourself a letter on your last day, would it say, „It was nice with you“?
No? Why not?
„Kann ich das nochmal versuchen?“
Rather a play on forms than a conceptual approach. Sketches and initial sculptures have joined together to form a new whole.
„Can I try that again?“ It’s such a classic phrase when we screwed up. I don’t believe in reincarnation. I don’t believe in previous or later lives. I think we have exactly this one attempt, one shot, to make something good out of our life. An invitation to live life in such a way that we don’t have to ask for a second attempt.