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UNDERWORLD
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  • drawing
  • gouache, pencil and colored pencil on parchment-type paper
  • 2008
  • Kunstkeller Bern, 2009
    Aeschlimann Corti-Stipendium, Kunstmuseum, Bern, 2009
    Weihnachtsausstellung «In Progress», PROGR, Bern, 2008
  • completion during residency, Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France, June - November 2008

    La terra lagrimosa diede vento
    Che balenò una luce vermiglia
    La qual mi vinse ciascun sentimento,
    e caddi come líuom cui sonno piglia.
    Dante Alighieri - „La Divina Commedia: Inferno“, Canto 3: 133 -136

    UNDERWORLD arises from investigations into the underground tunnels and recesses of cities. The Paris underground is composed of a more than 300 km2 long system of tunnels. These tunnels are the remains of huge stone dating as far back as the 11th century. Parts of the tunnelsystem are used today for sewage and the underground subway system. A small portion (approximately 3 km) is used as an ossuary. The rest is abandonned. Some tunnels have totally caved in and others are being restored by archeological foundations.

    At the beginning of my residency I visited the "Carrières Médiévale des Capucins" (The medieval quarries of Capucins)
    lying directly under the Cochin hospital complex. 20 meters under day and 6.18 meters above groundwater level I learned that quarry workers created a mirror of the Paris streets in order to keep their orientation in the vast tunnel systems. The underground passageways have the same name as the streets above with the added prefix Ñsousì (french: under), Sous - Rue means Under - Street. Even the owner of the underground property is called the Sous - Propriétaire meaning the Under - Owner.

    I experienced a walkable underworld directly from the pages of Dante Alighieri's "Divine Comedy" in the darkness of the tunnels. Orpheus, Aeneas, Pollux, Theseus and Psyche are all examples of greek mythological figures who descended into the underworld. The Lower World is ruled by Pluto and Persephone and protected by the dog Cerberus. Charon ferries the souls across the river Styx. An underground spring exists in the Capucines quarry, reached by a stone spiral staircase, reminding me of these greek myths.

    UNDERWORLD hints at visions of a mirrored, underground city. The drawn buildings are underpainted with vermillion paint. Vermillion was frequently used to illuminate manuscripts. The chemical composition of vermillion (Italien: vermiglia) is mercury sulfide (HgS). Mercury being the greek guide of the souls in their journeys to the Lower World. And even in modern times sulfur has always been associated with hell.

    The transparent paper reminds us of illuminated manuscripts. In contrast to the painted body the drawn bodies appear to disintegrate, is in itself transparent. The investigation of the corporal is emphasized by the underpainting, causing the paper to bulge and buckle, underlining the plasticity of the panels.