Wanderer and the Screen of Mist (3 Channel Installation)

Lisa Birke

2012, 08:00 minutes, colour

TAPECODE 1051.02

Using Casper David Friedrich's seminal romantic painting Wanderer Above the Sea of Mist as inspiration, the artist tries to find the elusive and symbolic Sublime. First visiting the Hamburger Kunsthalle in Germany to view the painting in the flesh, the artist then travels to the Sachsische Schweiz and the landscape in which the work was created. During her travels, the artist discovers that the painting was not painted from a single, ideal, view, but is rather a composite of different locations in the area. Thus, Wanderer exemplifies not a cohesive modern, but rather a postmodern fragmented space.

At her final destination the artist encounters vistas that have been commercialized and branded as “Friedrich’s Malerweg” (translatable as “Friedrich’s Painter Path”). The views are clearly designated by signs and are safely railed-off. The immortalized landscape is endlessly captured by digital cameras wielded by a constant stream of tourists hoping to take a piece of Friedrich and the Sublime home with them. The work inevitably questions mythologized representation, the commercialized view, and a mediated Sublime. It asks whether a true embodied Sublime experience is still possible in a postmodern world.

(Note: The installation of this work consists of three concurrently running video projections. The first is a centrally placed projection that shows the artist standing in front of Casper David Friedrich’s “Wanderer Above the Sea of Mist” in the Hamburger Kunsthalle. The second video, projected at painting eye-level on a facing wall, is a digitally manipulated composite of the artist standing in one of the Friedrich’s views, on location in the Sachsische Schweiz. This image has been superimposed onto the video capture of the actual painting. The third video that appears documents the artist’s travels, combining tourist-like snap shots and video capture with physical documentation of the views used by Friedrich in his famous painting.)

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