Marianne Hollenstein «Jeanne Hersch : The right to be a human»
Exhibition, installation, painting and performance
As an artist I have dealt with Hannah Arendt for years. This new exhibition at the Bereznitsky Art Foundation offers me an opportunity to deal with Arendt's contemporary, the Swiss philosopher, educator and writer Jeanne Hersch, in a completely new way.
Jeanne Hersch was born in Geneva 1910. Her parental home played an important role in her attitude and thinking. JH's parents were Polish-Jewish immigrants (from Lithuania and Warsaw) who had come to Geneva to study in a free country.
Jeanne Hersch passed her state examination in literature in Geneva in 1931 with a highly acclaimed diploma thesis on the style of Henri Bergson's work. In 1946 she received her doctor degree in philosophy from the University of Geneva with a dissertation "L'Etre et la Forme", which is still worth reading today, which she dedicated to her teacher Karl Jaspers with the words: A mon Maître Karl Jaspers, qui me fit connaître la pensée existentialiste, ainsi nommée parce qu'elle appelle l'existence à chercher la transcendance aux limites du savoir. (To my teacher KJ, who taught me existentialist thinking, so called because it gives existence the task, at the limits of knowledge, the To seek transcendence.) This is an interesting understanding of existential philosophy - actually the mandate never to be satisfied with our knowledge, but to keep searching, keep asking.
This is how I see my position as an artist.
In 1946, Jeanne Hersch received the Adolphe Neumann Prize for Aesthetics and Morals for this thesis.
Like Hannah Arendt, Jeanne Hersch was an enthusiastic student of Karl Jaspers, with whom she first studied in Heidelberg. However, we find Jeanne Hersch's fidelity to Jasper's thinking in the fact that Jeanne Hersch translated almost all of Jasper's work into French and thus opened up his thinking to a French-speaking culture.
In search of the truth necessary for incarnation. By searching for it together, listening to and sharing with each other, maybe even arguing, you get closer to it, the truth. This is the "loving fight". It can also be art.
Jeanne Hersch has written a whole series of essays and lectured all over Europe about democratic values, about human rights.
During the Cold War, it took a firm and consistent stand against totalitarianism in Eastern Europe.
Added to this was her great commitment to human rights: Jeanne Hersch worked as a director of the philosophy division at UNESCO in Paris from 1966-68. With a view to the 20th anniversary of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1968), Jeanne Hersch wrote a book for Unesco with over 1000 quotations from all languages and cultures. The title of the book is The right to be a human. Jeanne Hersch wanted to show that human rights apply to all people, or that human dignity, i.e. intellectual and existential freedom, is not just a Western idea, but applies universally. Her legacy is in the Zurich Central Library.
I move in the fields of stage design, installation, performance and painting. Experiences, thoughts, feelings force me to engage artistically. My work on Jeanne Hersch is about inner images. Connections of space, philosophy and painting are created, which require a new attention from the viewer.
The 30 works on the subject of human rights are somewhat brittle and made up of an old canvas. I feel the same way about the 30 articles on human rights. They are often not complied.
During the opening, these 30 articles would be read in different languages while I finish the folies.
The 3 large paintings 200/200 "Humans #1" / "Humans # 2" / "Humans # 3" are also newly created. Traces of life disappear here, because there are many bright colors under the surface.
Every line, every scribble has its meaning. The picture does show what lies beneath the surface.
As with all my work, there are traces of own life of the artworks (scratches, losses and marks of transportation).
The alive and creative is more important to my artistic practice than order and perfection.
The plastic folies are the most descriptive examples of my artistic gesture - this is about the creative and spontaneity. I will finish painting the slides in front of an audience. A thought is brought to an end. I move in space and people are part of my installation.