German Angst and fat fields
If you take a closer look at 1B1B – BATTERY, you will discover various (credit) cards and a battery. Are they charged? Somehow, I won’t succeed in putting together the perceived rainbow-colours. Is the energy high enough? Looking at the grey-brown soil of a potato field on the Lower Rhine always makes me think of Joseph Beuys and his colour choices, as well as of Sigmar Polke’s potato machine.
No local co-creator was to be found easily in that atmosphere between curiosity and mistrust towards strangers, the local inhabitants remained straightforwardly questioning what we were doing. When they got their answer, they apologised for being prudent; so many things would happen, they said. Despite their curiosity, they couldn’t make the step to participate and left us alone doing the land art placement. One can understand the longing for more ease and playfulness in the human communication that lead to the potato machine Sigmar Polke created.
Without any vacation, seeing after his land every single day, a farmer probably doesn’t have a sentimental approach towards nature. Or is it rather the opposite that it just goes levels deeper than that of the city people, this emotion towards his land. Whatever the answer might be, a farmer clearly sculpts the earth on a daily base in order to produce food. But if it is functional in a practical sense, it ceases being art.
The Lower Rhine is a region bordering the Netherlands in the west of North Rhine-Westphalia. However, it is to be distinguished from the lower section of the Rhine of the same name, on both sides of which it extends; the Lower Rhine river section already begins further southeast at the mouth of the Sieg. The natural definition of the Lower Rhine as the Lower Rhenish Lowlands also differs from that of the Lower Rhine region because, contrary to common usage, it also includes parts of the central Rhineland.
There is no clear geographical demarcation of the flat Lower Rhine area proper from the neighbouring landscapes. Moreover, the Lower Rhine region does not form a continuous unit either geologically, historically, politically, or culturally. Occasionally, the Lower Rhine region is defined by what it is not: it is not identical with the bordering Netherlands, with the Lower Rhine (Cologne) Bay, with neighbouring Westphalia, with the Bergisches Land beginning in the southeast, or with the north of the Eifel including the Viller Ridge in the south. Parts of the Lower Rhine overlap with the Ruhr area, which, however, does not belong to the historic landscapes. The Lower Rhine area can best be characterised as the land whose inhabitants speak the (former) Lower Rhine dialects, which belong to Lower Franconian. The Lower Rhine dialects form (together with Westmünsterland) both the smallest (geographically) and most heterogeneous (linguistically) cluster of the five main clusters within the German language area.
The potatoes cultivated today are descended from various landraces that occur in the Andes from western Venezuela to Argentina and the island of Chiloé or the Chonos Archipelago in southern Chile. The oldest known traces of wild potatoes were found on Chiloé, where their age is estimated at 13,000 years. The Chilean landraces, however, probably originate from the Peruvian Andean varieties (Solanum tuberosum ssp. andigenum (Juz. & Bukasov) Hawkes), which probably developed after hybridisation with the wild species Solanum tarijense. This wild species is found in Bolivia and Argentina. In Peru, long considered the country of origin of the potato, there are in turn more than 3,000 endemic potato varieties. Most of them can only be grown in the Peruvian Andes because they do not thrive in other parts of the world due to their geological and climatic requirements. The main difference between the Andean potato and the varieties cultivated in other growing regions is that it is adapted to different light conditions (day and night cycle).
With brick 1B1B we place the second Wearth wax bar in Germany’s second hexagon. It was at a potato field in Aldekerk, Kerken, Germany.
It is a rural area close to larger city agglomerations in the Netherlands and in North-Rhine Westphalia.
In this basically flat sandy land you feel observed all the time.