Art and Dandelions: Wunderkammer
Art laboratory ArToll Bedburg 2011
Artist: Regine Ramseier
Dandelions are my favorite flowers. I don’t care if everyone else wants to call them weeds: to me they’re flowers. I used to love to blow on them and watch them gently float away on the breeze. Yes, dandelions and butterflies were my “thing” as a child (and still are). When I happened across this work of art, I was immediately enthralled by the dandelions, although a little puzzled as to why they were hanging from the ceiling. Then I realized they probably wouldn’t do well as a carpet, so perhaps that was the reason.
What blew me away was how real they looked. I mean, look at the subtleties of whites and yellows, the slight differences in shapes and sizes, the imperfect stems. Amazing!
How, I wondered, did this artist create these beautiful dandelions?
Thread? Cotton? Wool? Resin? Magic?
Then the realization came to me: this artist did not create these dandelions.
Now, if you’ve ever picked up a nice, full dandelion like the one above, you know that those little white fluffy things (they’re actually seeds with fine hairs attached that act like little parachutes) fall off, blow off in the slightest breeze, and are often half bare before you even get a chance to blow them.5
Hmm. Remember picking dandelions? The stems are bendy and sticky, so it’s easy to lose some of the feathery florets just pulling them.
I think she had to have clipped them to get stems that long and even and keep the florets intact. Notice how carefully she’s holding them so that each flower head (aka “clock”) is at a significant distance from the others. One brush against anything, and that dandelion is caput.
No wonder it’s called the Wonder Room. Regine appears to be a Wonder Woman; she can do anything! Regine designed and built this palette system to hold the trays of dandelions in a stable fashion for transport. Genius. I mean, think about it… If you hadn’t seen any of this, would you have known how to pick and transport 2,000 dandelions fully intact? Tough order!
I didn’t see this photo until midway through this article, and I was very surprised to see how forlorn and shabby the little room and window appear to be. They’re not going to look like that for long!
A bit further along now. See how the dandelions closer to the window seem to be hanging lower? There’s a reason for that, too. Jiminy, it looks like some have nearly managed to go through the window. It’s almost as if the panes are glassless now.
Just like that, it’s done. A hanging field of beauty and splendour.
See how full and intact they still are? Amazing.
Have you noticed that the dandelions are not level?
No, in fact the dandelions hang gradually lower as they get closer to the window.
I hadn’t really noticed anything beyond that they seemed to be at a slant. It didn’t occur to me why. I think that’s probably one of the reasons I grew up thinking that fine art was boring, stuffy, gray or brown old stuff hung on a wall or behind glass in an antiseptic environment. I didn’t understand it, and I didn’t have the experience, eye, or acumen for analyzing it. Once I understood what was going on here, my impression of this installation went from “wow, that’s really pretty, I love dandelions, how nice, really cool to put them on the ceiling, love the pretty window, yada, yada, yada” to “WOW! The symbolism. The beauty of such a wondrous idea, a philosophical perspective brought to life in such a beautiful, tangible way.”
You see, the artist strategically sloped the dandelions downward toward the window and arranged those lower flowers that you see in order to create the effect of the dandelions floating towards the light of the window, outward and onward as if drifting through the room towards the window and outward upon a gentle breeze. They remain only in memory as a moment captured in time, much like the act of blowing a dandelion, of kissing someone goodbye, of hearing beautiful live music…
Regine intended for this installation to represent life, birth, and impermanence, and she has given us that in an incredibly beautiful, thoughtful, and extraordinary way.
The Poetry of Life and Rebirth
The following is what Regine wrote about this masterpiece. It is in German, with a rough English translation immediately following it.
Ich habe diese Arbeit auf den kleinen Raum im Kunstlabor ausgerichtet. Rund 2000 verblühte Löwen- zahnblumen pendeln leicht und lebendig von der Decke. Ein Symbol für Tod und Wiedergeburt. Ein Symbol für die Vergänglichkeit. Einen Augenblick innehalten. Den Atem anhalten und sich dem Vergänglichen einen Atemzug lang zuwenden. Staunen in der Wunderkammer. Hermann Hesse hat meine Empfindung in Worte ausgedrückt. Im Gedicht Augenblicksblinken. Der kleine weisse Raum enthält ein grosses Fenster, welches das Grün der Parkanlage aussperrt. Der Pusteblumenhimmel neigt sich von der Türe hin zum Fenster und es scheint, als würden die Blumen aus dem Raum hinausgetragen, dem Licht und dem Tag entgegen. Doch still hängen sie im Raum und sind von Dauer. Festgehalten in meiner Erinnerung. Sie werden nicht zurückkehren. Doch die goldenen Wiesen, dies weiss ich, die Pusteblumen, sie werden wiederkehren im nächsten Frühling. -Regine Ramseier3
Title: Calm (Still Wind)
I have focused this work on the little space in the art lab. About 2000 faded lion tooth flowers commute easily and alive from the ceiling.4,1 A symbol of death and rebirth. A symbol of impermanence. Pause a moment. Hold your breath and the Transitory turn a long breath. Amazement in the Wunderkammer. Hermann Hesse my feelings expressed in words. In the poem instantaneous flash. The small white room includes a large window, which locks out the green of the park. The Dandelions sky slopes from the door to the window and it seems as if the flowers carried out of the room, towards the light and the day. But hush they hang in space and are permanent. Arrested in my memory. They will not return. But the golden Meadows, this I know, the dandelions, they will return next spring. -Regine Ramseier
Here is the writing by Hermann Hesse that Regine makes reference to above. Again, it is in German with the English translation following it.
AUGENBLICKSBLINKEN In den Sand geschrieben
Dass das Schöne und Berückende nur ein Hauch und Schauer sei, dass das Köstliche, Entzückende, Holde ohne Dauer sei: Wolke, Blume, Seifenblase, Feuerwerk und Kinderlachen, Frauenblick im Spiegelglase und viel andere wunderbare Sachen, dass sie, kaum entdeckt, vergehen, nur ein Duft und Windeswehen, ach, wir wissen es mit Trauer, und das Dauerhafte, Starre ist uns nicht so innig teuer: Edelstein mit kühlem Feuer, glänzendschwere Goldesbarre; selbst die Sterne, nicht zu zählen, bleiben fern und fremd, sie gleichen uns Vergänglichen nicht, erreichen nicht das Innerste der Seelen. Nein, es scheint das innigst Schöne, Liebenswerte dem Verderben zugeneigt, stets nah am Sterben. Und das Köstlichste; die Töne der Musik, die im Entstehen schon einteilen, schon vergehen, sind nur Wehen, Strömen, Jagen und umweht von leiser Trauer, denn auch nicht auf Herzschlags Dauer lassen sie sich halten, bannen; Ton um Ton, kaum angeschlagen, schwindet schon und rinnt von dannen. So ist unser Herz dem Flüchtigen, ist dem Fliessenden, dem Leben treu und brüderlich ergeben, nicht dem Festen, Dauertüchtigen, Bald ermüdet uns das Bleibende, Fels und Sternenwelt und Juwelen, uns in ewigen Wandel treibende Wind- und Seifenblasenseelen, Zeitvermählte, Dauerlose, denen Tau am Blatt der Rose, denen eines Vogels Werben, eines Wolkenspielers sterben, Schneegeflimmer, Regenbogen, Falter, schon hinweg geflogen, denen eines Lachens Läuten, das uns im Vorübergehen kaum gestreift, ein Fest bedeuten oder wehtun kann. Wir lieben, was uns gleich ist, und verstehn, was der Wind in Sand geschrieben. -Hermann Hesse3
EYE VIEW FLASH Written in the sand
That the beautiful and captivating just a touch and shower was, that the Delicious, Delightful, Holde without duration is: Cloud, flower, soap bubble, Fireworks and children’s laughter, Woman looking in mirror glass and thousands of other wonderful things, that they hardly discovered, pass only one fragrance and Blowing of the Wind, Oh, we know it with sadness, and the Durable, Rigid We are not so intimately expensive: Gemstone with cool fire glossy heavy gold Barre; even the stars, not counting remain distant and strange, they resemble We do not reach the transitory not the secrets of your hearts. No, it seems intimately Beautiful, Endearing spoiling inclined, always close to dying. And the most precious; the sounds the music in the making already divided, already pass away, only labor, streams, hunting and to be surrounded by quiet grief, be found neither in heartbeat time let them talk, banish; Sound by sound, hardly struck, vanishes already and runs away. So our heart is the fugitive, is the flow ends, the life faithfully and fraternally revealed not the parties, duration fittest, Soon we tired the enduring, Rock star and world and jewels, driving us in eternal change Wind and bubbles souls, Newlywed time, duration lots, where dew on the leaf of the rose, where a bird Advertise, a Cloud player die, Schneegeflimmer, rainbow, Butterfly, already flown away, those of laughter ringing, the us in passing barely touched, represent a solid may or hurt. We love which is equal to us, and understand, what the wind is written in sand. -Hermann Hesse
4Dandelions are also known as lion’s teeth