23 meters x 23cm | inclination of 23° to the sky axis
Steel | gold-plated | concrete foundation
Schloß Park Fürst Pückler, Cottbus, Germany
A gold-plated steel pipe 23 meters long and 23 centimeters in diameter protrudes from the ground in the middle of meadows and trees at an angle of 23 degrees. With the work, the artist refers to the concept of climate κλίμα (climare 'to incline'), which is etymologically borrowed from this inclination.
Material and the eponymous angle of inclination irritate the eye, which expects clear relationships between horizontal and vertical in the environment of the ideally designed natural landscape of the most important landscape architect of the late 19th century. The work literally pushes the boundaries of the greater and greater of the globe. The "obliquity" and position of the celestial axis (North Pole-South Pole) change over very long periods of time. Since about 1800 and the knowledge of a geological "deep time" we have learned to calculate in millions of years rather than in centuries. Today, however, the two poles are also indicators of man-made climate change and at the same time the intersections of economic interests and political influences. In such a context, Marc Schmitz' protruding sculpture is more reminiscent of the tool of a subtle geodesist than of an index finger preparing to warn.
The poetry of an artistic work in nature designed by human hands should raise complex questions for the visitor: what exactly does it mean to be here at this point and what is the relationship between our earth's axis and the universe? How does this light golden, sharply contoured form contrast with the green earthly oasis created by Prince Pückler? What changes are becoming particularly dramatic as a result of climate change here in dry Brandenburg, which was already described as a desert in the 19th century and was subsequently severely altered by coal? It is the wide range of experience and discussion potential that makes the so-called "stellar plastic" in its large but minimal form so exciting in the context of the endangered cultural landscape. The work wants to be an occasion and wants to give suggestions, which connections we can guess if we get involved in a planetary perspective. We will perceive and appreciate the terrestrial body and our position differently!
Artist statements by Marc Schmitz on 23° - Stellare Plastik
“The scale of 23° x 23 meters x 23 centimeters marks a virtual standard meter. Although the climate is determined by the earth's rotation around the axis of 23°, our perspective usually remains terrestrial/local, with seasonal currents only arising from the stellar position of the axis. A necessary adjustment of perspective involves the complexity of different dimensions. The current limitation and concern for the supposedly lost open future is terrestrially oriented. My interest follows a non-linear perspective, for which I scale the tools of art. The haystack disappears into the needle on a terrestrial meridian to the east.”
“We have learned to adapt to a 'crooked situation'; it is actually 23.5°. Interestingly, this is also the ideal temperature that we enter on the air conditioning system in the tropics: obviously a value that describes our habitat well. And with that perhaps another approach to understanding the earthly fabric that brought us into being and that now demands our protection.”
"Should we consider ourselves lucky that, as is so often emphasized from all sides, only this planet, only this place, has ideal conditions for granting LIFE in the universe? And what if we look at this 23° obliquity from the Universe? Isn't the ecliptic "just" a coincidence which - pointless to criticize - constitutes what we call the earth? Who suddenly forces us to understand that NATURE is not a green construct, but the largest possible complex laboratory for our and thousands of other forms of living conditions in space?”
“Connecting to the universe takes more than WiFi. Huge astronomical data series only feel our ignorance about it, because we assumed with self-assurance that "as below, so above". We start with something like a location: here I am; and there the universe would see me. Medicine requires knowledge of our bodies, but without knowing where we are it is as imprecise as blood-letting. Identity searches will be replaced by intersections. What do we share when and where? This stitch here marks a point with a needle in the earth meridian. It should describe a new chapter. I call it 23°.”
Art and science in dialogue
Dr Benjamin Männel, scientist in Section 1.1 of the GFZ (German Research Center for Geosciences, Helmholtz in Potsdam) and Marc Schmitz, artist and initiator of the 23° project, conduct a free dialogue on topics related to the art installation. link