Alfiemasoliver

PROJECTS

WINTERREISE (2021-2023)


"Fremd bin ich eingezogen; Fremd zieh ich wieder aus."

"A stranger I arrived; a stranger I depart."

Wilhelm Müller: Gute Nacht

Franz Schubert: Winterreise D911, #1 Gute Nacht


I was inspired by the lieder cycle from Franz Schubert of the eponymous name. Schubert wrote these songs in February 1827 and October 1827 based on a collection of poems from Wilhelm Müller Poems from the posthumous papers of a traveling horn-player.

The cycle has two parts of twelve poems each. It tells the story of the heartbreak of a man who steals away from town in the middle of the winter. The mood of the cycle is a perfect sample of the Romantic Imaginary: The Night, Solitude, Nature, the Journey, the Road. All of these elements refer to the aesthetics of the Romantic Landscape depicted by Caspar David Friedrich, J.W.M. Turner or the Hudson River School. They looked at Nature in a totally new way. it was the impression of Nature in the artist which was represented. Is Nature embracing the viewer or is Nature threatening him instead?

Nature is the interlocutor of the Wanderer. It's the superior power of the Sublime which would take us to the acceptance of ourselves, our limitations amidst its force.

Desolation, inner grief and solitude must be accepted to attain the reunion with your inner self. You must travel outside to travel inside and find oneself at the end of the journey.

The romantic persona of the Wanderer is brought to our time in the form of a quintessential American tradition such as the Road Trip. The vastness of the American landscape, the Big Skies of the West, the empty spaces, the still present spirit of the pioneers in a recently colonized territory but also the deep gap of abandonment, of oblivion by the administration and by a large part of the mostly urban population of the country. A territory where one can feel the presence of its original inhabitants even despite its sad recent history.

A journey to the center of subjectivity, to the complexity of the human being. A journey sublimated to perfection echoing in these times of paradigm shift.


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Poetry of the Unremarkable (2020)

“Winter solitude
in a world of one color
the sound of wind.”
              Matsuo Bashō

Solitude, places unlikely to be noticed where selfies are a no-no.
Wire communication in a wireless world.
Roads to Nowhere taking me Everywhere.
Snow in the desert, drought, unpredictable weather.
Ubiquitous presence of plastic debris.
Vast, empty spaces filling up the gap between cities.
Cities turning their back to the environment on which they are dependent. 
Silence. Serenity of the remoteness.
A journey on seeing, observing, learning, meditating.
A contemplative process of survival, of growing internally every day.
Wiser maybe.

“Weiser stehen auf den Strassen, weisen auf die Städte zu,
und ich wand’re sonder Maßen ohne Ruh’ und suche Ruh’.”

(Signposts stand on the roads, point towards towns.
Yet I wander on and on, unresting, in search of rest.)

Wilhelm Müller. Der Wegweiser / Franz Schubert Winterreise D911

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· Winter
· HIGH DESERTS
· NAVAJO NATION

Land of Mist (2019)

This series is inspired by the imprint left on the hills of India and Sri Lanka by the tea planters and growers who created gardens of a spectacular beauty in their geometry. The careful planning and pruning have produced through the years this manipulated landscape that tea gardens are.

The mist and rain coming to damp the hills every day makes an eery atmosphere around this man made environment. Sometimes you cannot see anymore where the land ends or where that road go. Trees disappear almost completely, bodies of water integrate into the land as if they were no limits between the two of them.

Here the scenes are often presented in a closer frame, in a different scale much smaller and more focused as they were in the American landscapes. A different approach to the same subject.

The contemplative landscape: severe, remote, inducing a holistic attitude of observation and meditation.

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Trails to the West (2018)

I am particularly drawn to the Plain states in the Western part of the country. This landscape with its “big sky” and remote almost desolate land can present as both spectacularly beautiful on the one hand, and also severe and punishing, on the other. We imagine the men and women who occupied these lands- both the native population as well as the ‘settlers’ - as braving harsh conditions to make their homesteads.

Traveling along the National Historic Trails I'm interested in pointing to these settlers by tracing their marks on the landscape in the form of dwellings, both homes and barns, the electric and telephone lines that draw long lines in the landscape, and empty, endless country roads. Sometimes it’s not clear where these roads are even going as they seem to exist on their own without an obvious destination.

The homes and other man-made structures present as tiny and overmatched against the conditions, be they snow and freezing cold or wind and endless sun.

I work to present these scenes the way I feel them: as beholden to the great expanse of skyline. My horizon line is low and I never frame a scene except from a great distance.

"He would be a poet who could impress the winds and streams into his service, to speak for him" (H.D. Thoreau)
"Go West" (Pet Shop Boys)

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· WINTER
· SPRING