Open-mindedness  

A Plea for Open mindedness and Tolerance

A ground installation with approximately 500 life-size human faces,
made of earthenware coloured with oxides and fired at 1200 C.

Description:
Several hundred human faces lie distributed over the stone floor, all aligned in the same direction. These faces were all cast initially from only 2 different originals, which I had modelled previously.
And all the faces are in one of just 2 colours: a very pale brown and a dark clay-like brown. Yet closer inspection reveals that no two faces are exactly alike: before firing, each of them was finished singly with darker cracks and fissures, and black or bluish-black glazed eyes contribute to the individuality of each countenance.
The facial expressions were however intentionally kept uniform: they all gaze straight ahead, dreamily lost in thought, without recognisable emotion, and though they lie side by side they lack any apparent interrelationship or mutual awareness.

Statement of Intent :
The word MIND has manifold meanings encompassing the various emotional and rational dimensions of the human being.
OPEN-MINDEDNESS is to be understood in this all-encompassing sense. It stands for openness of feelings and intellect, for a freedom from preconceived opinions and prejudices, for tolerance, and finally also for the refusal to suppress the past or misrepresent history.

OPEN-MINDEDNESS is thus seen the conditio sine qua non for humans to live together in the age of globalisation.
The installation Open mindedness consists on the one hand of very tangible, "naturalistic" elements, namely human faces. Conceptually it is however an abstract work. Neither the single heads nor the organisation of the whole impose on the viewer a single interpretation. The underlying idea is rather to make the "open-minded" observer aware that none of us is free of certain set patterns of thought. Traversing the installation one is repeatedly confronted with ones own associative thoughts or emotions that may turn out to be hasty and unfounded.
The disposition on the ground can evoke the dead: a battlefield? a mass grave ? the nameless victims of past and present brutalities ? But the faces are alive, and their peaceful, almost meditative expressions belie this possible interpretation.
Their similarity suggests at first glance that the faces are all identical. An expression of our modern mass society? Or perhaps the horrific premonition of a cloned future ? Yet a second and third glance reveal their individuality. No two faces are alike, each carries the marks that life has left.
There are pale and dark countenances. The utopia of a peaceful cohabitation of black and white ? But there are also people with other skin colours again...

The installation is thus not to be interpreted symbolically. It purports neither to depict Open mindedness as an ideal state of affairs nor to point to the possibly frightening consequences of its absence.
Open mindedness is not understood here as a condition, so to speak a superior state of mind, that one either possesses or does not possess. Rather it is a constant process requiring as much sharp perception as a permanent questioning of interpretations. This is the process that will, it is hoped, be triggered in the viewer by this installation, and allowed to surface in his or her awareness.