Woman Made Gallery Chicago, USA
Sometimes we are also what we have lost
Li-Ting, my art colleague, correspondence partner and friend sent me this citation after having red my first ideas about German traditions. My thoughts are always turning around history when I think about tradition. Is this because my generation has always been confronted with this terrible past? I sometimes have the feeling that we do not trust any tradition anymore, even in its good and blessing aspects. My family suffered two World-Wars, the Holocaust, the Berlin Wall, the throwing of bombs and the perfectly planned and organized killing of millions of people. Have we learned our lesson? Have I learned my lesson? Is there a new tradition of not believing in political leaders and what they are telling us anymore? A new and salutary mistrust? An unbreakable pacifism? It is difficult for me to feel the sunny or maybe funny sides of tradition. Very typical German! For years, I wished so much not to be German but Italian or French while I traveled in Europe. In Italy I spoke French and I was very satisfied when the Italian boys took me for a French girl! But there is also my „private“ tradition: my grandmother and my parents told me tales before sleeping. They gave me a huge treasure of symbols and the never-ending fascination of telling stories. Today, my most important medium for expressing thoughts and feelings is the clay. I am telling stories by using very often famous scenes from tales, from the bible, from antique sources. These stories talk about love and death, wild animals and beautiful women and drunken satyrs, fights and danger, love and sensuality. In school, we learned to translate Latin poetry like the Matamorphosis by Ovid or the Basia by Catull. These powerful and erotically vibrating poems! (And blushing Latin teachers!) My parents, surviving children of the countless bomb attacks on Munich tried to show me what was left of German and European treasures of art. I began to adore the European art, the music and opera and the wonderful sculptures, Baroque and Romanic angels showing love and sins and human life in all gradations. When I had to visit famous churches in Europe with my parents, I saw love and death as peaceful neighbors. It gave me a thrill to look at the stone sculptures showing angels or the seven sins, the forbidden feelings of all human being. This incredible sensuality of the artists, these cascades of pleats and sometimes nude breasts! The skeletons of the saints in the churches, decorated with gold and brocade – very exciting for me as a kid. Are there two traditions in me? One having its roots in the epochs far, far away, responsible for feelings of sensuality, assurance, pride, enjoyment, haughtiness? Another beginning after this epoch with the Nazism and the second World-War that brought me the feeling of insecurity, shame, mistrust, responsibility? Is it a blessing to be devided into two? Is it a curse? Read my tales, built in clay and fired in the kiln. Look at the sarcophagi, antique symbols of death and transmission. If there will be no bomb that falls on them and destroys them, they might survive like antique vessels!
Angelika Maria Stiegler
Chicago, USA, August 2003