Hans Dieter Schaal: Nature and the landscape are alien to us

Imke Itzen: On the question of how landscape is created, the film theorist Bela Balazs wrote that landscape is ›a physiognomy, a face that suddenly
looks out at us from another place in the locality
as if from the crazy lines of a puzzle picture … a
face that signifies humanity‹. Do you agree?

Hans Dieter Schaal: Yes, if I understand the quotation rightly. Initially, nature and the landscape are alien to us – they are a riddle that we do not understand. We were banished from our state of harmony with nature long ago by our disobedience and thirst for knowledge. Now we are trying to research it, to use it, to design it and to contemplate it. This engagement with nature can be a dialogue or a battle. At the same time, we know deep down that we were born out of this landscape, this nature, this earth and that we will one day return to it. The dead look out of every leaf at us. Nature embodies eternal life and our ultimate death, the present and the past at the same time. It is our mirror image; one whose relentless silence is unchanged by the flow of time. Wild nature does not need us – it fights against us, excludes us. Each field, each garden and each park is a new attempt at rapprochement, at a dialogue with nature. Our approaches may be playful, loving and charming – or they may be inflexible and
exploitative. When we take a spade, a rake or an axe in our hands, we have to decide: do we want to approach nature as lovers, as romantic dreamers, as artists, as poets, or as brutal, ravaging warriors, as farmer-attackers, as gardener-vandals and poison-spraying destroyers? Nature is always around us, and – as Bela Balasz rightly says – every time we intervene, it is our own faces
that look out at us from the mad puzzle picture of nature’s lines.

Extracto del libro Hans Dieter Schaal – Work in Progress de Hoffmann / Werner por Axel Menges Ed.

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