anime perse / lost souls

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In my project ANIME PERSE, several “coincidences” coincide. One of them is sculptor Frank Breidenbruch, who encouraged me to once again produce a sculpture supposed to find its place in the public area, to be specific at the house of Giggi Buffon in the Centro Storico of Carrara, the Mecca of eternal marble.

I agreed and thought to myself: then I’ll make something beautiful. But it didn’t take me long to realise that this is not as simple as that: There are already so many beautiful things. Further thoughts on the project lead me to the conviction to produce something based on a real subject. Things happen, which we face on a daily basis, but which we hardly take notice of anymore. And yet, it should strike us: There are more and more Africans in Italy, and this not only in Marina di Massa. I am not even the most concerned about the African people I can see and experience here. I am concerned about those whom we cannot see. I am talking about those people who, while trying to make the best of their lives, didn’t make it. My thoughts are with all those people who lost their lives and drowned while on the run.

Now many people are surely thinking: “Oh, come on, not again this old stuff!” But this is not something that happened in the past – it is happening over and over again, today as well as yesterday, and a topic also in 2020.

With my sculpture, I wish in no way to make a statement on who is to blame for it or on how this might be changed. My objective is rather to point out the fate of these people and give us pause for thought.

In Italy, many of the Africans found a new home. It is true that a large part of the Italians are afraid of these dark-skinned people. Yet a vast majority of the Italians, as is part of their mentality, are very much ready to help, and they understand the plight the refugees are in.

In the so-called community of solidarity of Europe, the complaints of the Italian or also the Greek governments are getting little attention. Especially when it comes to easing the strain by way of a fairer distribution. The countries that are in direct contact with North Africa, which are in particular Italy and Greece, are completely overstrained by the situation. My feeling is that they are being let down by the European Community.

What becomes clear for me as a German is that there are not so many black Africans in Germany. Instead, there are plenty of do-gooders juggling with numbers and trying to believe in their own good conscience, of the sort we will make this (“File on Let the Water Flow”.

Or to put it in other words: Our “politics” haven’t got any solution either.

I am a sculptor, and it cannot be my task to apportion the blame. But if I want to be human and I’ve got the job I have, I at least have to document the things happening in my time and think about what I can do.

This is why this project of the “Anime Perse / Lost Souls” came into being. The Carrara marble, which was once the bottom of the sea, gives me a chance to tackle the subject. The little tadpoles (little frogs) stand as a symbol for the boats of those Africans who want to take their life in their own hands to make it a better one. Something that all of us try to achieve in some way or other, albeit under different circumstances.

Now, in my sculpture, there are also boats of which nothing more than the outline is to be seen, thus creating an opening. According to its positioning, this opening produces either light or darkness. That’s them, the “Anime Perse / Lost Souls”, who stayed behind in the sea.

The sculpture hangs in the Via Verdi in the old town of Carrara.

But now things continue, or even they really get going!

Since I am not allowed to bring any black Africans back to Germany, I went for something different.

During my rambles through the Italian quarries my eye was caught by some rusting cushions, which have an impressive aura for me, also because you cannot immediately tell what they are or once were capable of. So I take away two of them with me.

Back in the studio in Carrara, there is one of these “Italo mega-showers”, which means it pours in buckets and everything gets flooded. But not my cushions, THESE THINGS CAN FLOAT! Inspired by this capacity, I begin to become fond of the cushions. Quickly, the whole thing starts moving for me. These beings, which appeared so strange in the beginning, become something familiar. The connection with the “Lost Souls” suggests itself to me.

These huge auburn cushions are doomed to die by scrapping. They look great, especially after my tender love and care and some affectionate surface treatment.

So, I got my old Ford Transit ready for a trip once again, this time as a covered wagon. For the turn of the year 2018/2019, I’ll again go on a journey over the Alps to Bella Italia. I’ll be accompanied by my son Fausto Valentin as my fellow campaigner, in order to take the cushions, which remind me so much of the “Anime Perse”, from the quarries of Carrara into a new life in Northern Europe.

This is how I try to persuade myself that “if I can save these cushions and there are people who can make use of them, then it could somehow be that this cushion transport from Italy to Germany will some day be possible not only for my sculptures, but also to Africans there will be doors open to Germany that are in keeping with human dignity.”

I would surely feel more human then.

If you don’t know what you are supposed to do, it is already good to know what you are supposed not to do.