GalerieExhibitionsMoving Waters

Moving Waters

In a magical microcosm

Moving Waters by Anna Bogouchevskaia

"Thales taught that the origin of all things was water."

– Diogenes Laertios: I, 27

"Early in the morning in a meadow, somewhere on this earth. But this meadow conceals another world, as big as a planet. Wild grasses become impenetrable jungle. Stones grow into mountains. And even the smallest waterhole turns into an ocean. The passage of time takes on new dimensions. An hour becomes a day, a day becomes a season. And a season lasts as long as a lifetime."

These are the opening words of the French documentary "Microcosm - Le peuple de l'herbe" from 1996. He leads the viewer into a space and a time that lie beneath human perception and defy its categories. We follow the small creatures of this world, beetles, caterpillars, bees, like protagonists caught up in the dramatic processes and sequences of their survival.

As rain falls, a new act opens in the drama of the day depicted in the universe of the little one. We see individual raindrops hitting the surface of a lake. It is the gestalt cycle of a unique form, a radically slowed-down transformation: from the deepening impact to the recoil-like rise of a column of water, in infinite variation and diversity, whereby the tautly stretched surfaces of the water in this enlargement create an unreal, perfect beauty. The film took ten years to produce and required a specially developed camera that could be programmed for the tiniest movements of a tenth of a millimeter using motion control.

The images in this film were the first impetus for Anna Bogouchevskaia to deal with the microcosm of the "Tropfen" (Drops) and to make it her own as a sculptor. She wanted to give form to what "only exists for a second, a third of a second". Her new, high-relief sculptures take the viewer into the strange, microscopically enlarged world of forms of water surfaces. From this uniformly structured surface rise a variety of figures, each framed by concentric wave patterns that capture different stages of the movement that begins when a drop hits the surface of the water: from a wreath-like blossom with a softly serrated edge to small and larger cones to towering columns with spherical drops as heads.

In their abstraction, they open up a wide range of associations, bringing to mind the blossoming and fading of flowers or the pieces of a board game. At the same time, however, they also make the element of water immediately tangible as a living one, not least through the silvery, metallic sheen created by the aluminum. The complex light reflections imitate the iridescence of a water surface moved by rain and evoke the sensuality that humans can experience in contact with the primal element of water.

However, the choice of aluminum is also due to the need to select a material with different static properties than those of heavy bronze in order to technically realize the complex and filigree shapes of the water columns in particular.

However, the sensuality of water also forms a bridge to Bogouchevskaia's earlier works, for example the series "Im Wasser" (In the water). In works such as "Große Welle" (Big wave) and "Schwimmer" (Swimmer - both 2002), water is reproduced in rectangular blocks, and the putto-like figures surrender to its power and presence. The humorous expressivity on display reflects the intensity of the experience for the viewer and the special coloration of the patina also evokes the sea and the power of the waves. And the high blocks in which the "Schwimmer" and the bathers of the "Wellen" sculptures are submerged have become a series of plates in the "Tropfen", allowing the surface to be explored.

But there is another motif that Bogouchevskaia is repeatedly drawn to in Moving Waters: a group of fish swimming towards each other at different heights, which bears the surprising title "Auf der Straße" (On the Road). The animal motif thus simultaneously forms an observation of everyday life and humorously echoes the diversity of forms, the grotesque and the all-too-human that Bogouchevskaia discovers in the observation of passers-by.

For this work, the artist spent long hours in front of the windows of the aquarium at Berlin Zoo and turned her attention to those fish whose particular physiognomies reminded her of various human characters. Bogouchevskaja's father, the sculptor Daniel Mitlianski, aptly described this "very personal view of the things of this world" in his text "Die Skulpturen meiner Tochter Anna" (1999) as "loving irony", which the viewer can find here. He also draws attention to the fact that a good sculpture differs from a bad one in that it "can be enlarged many times over".

And this aspect certainly applies in particular to the "Tropfen", as the shifted dimensions of multiple enlargement represent the starting point of this adventure of form. In the compression of time and the expansion of space, Bogouchevskaia turns to water as the most fleeting of natural forms, the epitome of the formless and intangible. Undoubtedly a sculptural challenge and, in its complexity, actually a

"deadly work", as Bogouchevskaia reveals. On the one hand, because the water and its movement create such improbable, unreal shapes with their very own proportions and an impossible statics, which refers to the dynamics of the material, and on the other hand, because there is a stronger abstraction compared to earlier works. But can the "Tropfen" even be categorized in the dichotomy of concretion and abstraction? After all, what at first glance appears to be an abstract form is actually the result of a closer look, an immersion in a concrete, naturalistic formal language, whose alien appearance makes us aware of the limitations of our perception.

By giving shape to the shapeless, Anna Bogouchevskaia draws from water the vitality and emotionality that permeates her entire oeuvre, and opens up a light-handed view of an element that is all too familiar and at the same time alien, which, scientifically speaking, is not only the origin of life, but in the philosophy of the pre-Socratic philosopher Thales of Miletus, the origin of everything.

to the artist page: Anna Bogouchevskaia