SETTINGS : ON SITE
In the middle of the 1990s, Gerlinde Thuma started working directly with stone as a sculptural object, positioning it in space and complementing it with the media of painting and drawing. In the work “Dice Game” the structure of the stone’s surface is transferred into charcoal drawing using frottage technique. In “Moviement” she sets a mirror in strongly textured polished red marble. The spatial dimension of the sculpture itself is complemented by a photograph taken so close up that it becomes unfocused; it is framed in the mirror so that only the branches of the trees in the quarry stand out as a sharply visible lineament. This work can be seen as an installation at the Vienna Südbahnhof.
Through her participation in international symposia, Gerlinde Thuma has increasingly been working in the “site specific” field, creating installations and objects directly in the landscape. Her sparing, precisely calculated interventions, which react to the given conditions of the location, encourage a dialog between the human and nature. Likewise, the artist marks and strengthens found landscape forms, making them into an integral component of her work. Hereby she deals with themes similar to those of her painting: the dimension of distance, the spatial crossing of boundaries, the horizon line upon which the levels break, moments, glimpses, but also the side-by-side existence of human and nature, of the now and the past, from which the present seems uprooted – like the trees in Canadian Mont-St.-Hiláire, which used to characterize the landscape and today have been pressed back to the edge of the highway. In the work “between roads and roots” (2003) they are given a metaphorical significance in a variety of respects.
Thuma worked with cotton fibers for the first time in the work “sudden moment” (2002), which she realized in South Korea. Here she wrapped cotton around a circular segment of geometrically displaced turf. A similar work was created in Berchtesgaden during the same year. Here the form cut into the grass was that of a boomerang, which was lined with white cotton. In a manner similar to her painting – in which the gestural brush structure is tamed by the exact color surfaces, ordering itself into the formal structures of the overall composition – the work derives its effect from the contrast between nature growing wildly and the exact cut made into it. And yet this linear intervention, which is strengthened by the contrast of the colors white and green, stands in conscious contradiction to the soft cotton used to create it. The ideas of breaking a form on an axis and playing with the horizon form the point of departure for the work “kust till kust”, which was created in Bergkvara, Sweden (2004). A line approximately 140 meters long was cut out of the grassy landscape and lined with tree bark mulch. In this way a connecting structure was stretched over a narrow bay from shore to shore, continuing on the other side.
“Passages” is the title Gerlinde Thuma has given her newest Land Art piece for the Kulturwerkstätte Wachtberg in Austria’s Waldviertel (2005). The white, seemingly weightless sculpture stands on a long stretch of hilltop meadow, inviting one to continue onward to a point at which one can gaze out into the surrounding landscape. In addition to the orientation with regard to content manifested in its title, the contrast between the artificiality of the material and its color represents the work’s formal centerpiece. Instead of cotton fleece, Thuma here used plaster and bast. The individual flowering strings overflowing from the container do not seem to be anchored anywhere. They are light and seem to float – a quick gust of wind might blow them away – and yet they remain resistant and centered in this exposed position like the Rose of Jericho.
Gerlinde Thuma’s landscape works all endeavor to integrate and explore what is found existing at the sites where they are created. They are unified by the idea of transforming the spatial perception of nature on location through the placement of an artistic work within it.
Translation: Christopher Barber