Hildegard Hahn - The Tower of Babel


This book is part of the wider arts project: "La Torre de Babel, un escenario" (The Tower of Babel, a scenario). It is composed of more than 3,000 pieces of marble (of very diverse sizes), leftovers of some industry, which I found on the Atlantic seashore, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. On these white marble pieces I drew signs, symbols, ciphers, codes, alphabets of all times - since the existence of such testimonies. Also, I wrote words, metaphors and texts which passed through my mind or by my eyes by chance (every day we are allowed to live, always new and renewed, holds its surprises), by coincidence (those invisible threads which direct life) or intention (for the want to understand and to know) with water resistant Chinese ink.

In a relatively narrow hall 5 plinths (160 x 160 cm) of low heights form a labyrinth. On the central table, the majority of pieces are piled up like the fallen tower of Babel. The visitors of the exhibition can take them and, if they wish to, alter their order, by placing them on the other tables, and so find themselves with remote histories, or more recent ones, like messages, oracles, ...

The shadows of the persons present in the 'scenario' are included, as a projection of the transitory character of the material, the immaterial existence, impossible to be fixed during any larger span of time: with the bold security of perceiving behind those shadows other characters, people of distant times and cultures, with the desire to communicate ourselves with the past in the same instant that we are living in the present.

COMMUNICATION is a relatively doubtful and ambiguous expression. Who is really able to communicate something to us in this sickly forest of the media, where we suffocate ourselves in badly invented stories or horrendous informations about the human misery? Communication with whom? With what purpose? How?

Our spiritual alimentation can be as exorbitant like the bodily one. (If we were born on the most privileged side of this planet!) Super alimentation, over-feeding, obesity, immobility, ill health, laziness, fear of the image which the mirror may return to us, are some of the symptoms of our 'advanced' civilisation at the end of the 20th Century.

It is hard to be optimistic. The believers in the apocalypses respond with a cynical smile. But they do not communicate us anything either ... with their seed of bad weed they prevent fertile fields. Decorative existentialists! I do not pretend to 'fix' the world and it human inhabitants with my personal ideas. I try to be neutral and invite them to roam a little in the three-dimensional space of the past, the history they left us in writing, drawing, indicating, occulting (in signs and hieroglyphics) ... without blinding us of the present, which without doubt does not lack beauty, if we know how to find it and see it.

The necessity to affirm oneself, to leave marks of one's existence, of communicating with signs or writings with the ones coming afterwards, awoke in the human mind many thousands of years ago, and has not ceased to exist in our sophisticated modern environment. Drawing and writing are achievements of great magnitude in the human development. Together with this faculty, the metaphoric observation arrived, the abstract memory, and an advanced imagination of space- time. We can easily observe too, that this new imagination, translated into characters and words, also brought us to the dangers of automatism, the depersonalisation, the uniformity, the incomprehensibility; for example in the bureaucracy which appears to be the skeleton of future life, where we are held prisoners within thousands of computers.

It is convenient to stop ourselves, at times, for some moments - or hours - immerse ourselves into the beauty of these testimonies of the past (it does not matter that the majority of the so attractive inscriptions in cuneiform signs deal with the inventories of the stores of ancient Mesopotamia and the obelisks full with intriguing hieroglyphics tell us of successful battles) which in deed, communicate a lot. They communicate, amongst others, that every human labor is temporary, that life is like an oasis as for the nomads in a desert, that the human being is born with death as one of its aims. It has to die physically, but can obtain immortality, if it wants to, through music, poetry, scientific discoveries, in the arts ... the memory ... written, drawn. Simply thought ?

Hildegard Hahn
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
July 1999


Last modification: 13-May-2014
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