18 September 2014

Three questions for:
Axel Brechensbauer

Text: Susanne Heinlein

Axel Brechensbauer is the creator of the peace drone which we introduced in form 255. In theory, these drones will fly over enemy territory and calm the adversary with a broad grin, clown music and by spraying oxycotin. The artist’s other works speak a completely different language and do not tackle the topic of war. Rather he uses his sculptures and objects to explore the relationship between man and nature. A particular theme is man’s drive to give a structure and classification to everything thus ordering the world around him.


1. What do you think, why does man strive for order while being part of the wild growing nature? How is this process reflected in your work?


It is amazing how much effort we put into making things straight and unnatural. We turn trees into planks and clay into bricks with four corners, squarifying flawless organic shapes. Maybe we do so to simplify, to make our brains easily understand flat building plans. Streets are held straight, if they don’t need to be curved.


If we look at general modernist aesthetics made of simple geometric forms and clean white surfaces, it is easy to see that something that is minimal and pure on a white piece of paper is maximum contrast to a forest. A raw concrete building with identical windows is not experienced as honest and true but as inhumane and boring. What the modernist didn’t realize was how us human beings tend to interpret meaning into everything, including a white surface.


I believe most people consider nature being ugly. That’s why we create symmetrical gardens in contrast to chaotic forests. We try to improve things by rearranging existing objects, rather than criticizing nature. And then we compare our garden with our neighbours’ to see whom of us being least of an ape, in a way to show that you are superior to nature. It’s man’s enjoyment of mastery. I however believe that we as humans should challenge nature. But maybe we should take it one step further.


In my work I had a dream about an ultimate shape or even the ultimate object. It became the start of a search for an object that humans will obey without knowing why. This might be an impossible quest but I think this object resides far away from nature.


2.The Peace Drone stands out from all your other work. What lead you to this excursus in form and content?


I think it’s interesting how we use shapes in military and political applications. And I’m interested in how the people designing killing machines, reason. Jokes and happy faces are not welcome as this would be an insult or something. I think this is cheating ourselves in the same way as in modernist aesthetics.


3. You are planning to continue working on the Peace Drone, maybe to even develop a functional prototype. Will peace and war become a permanent theme in your work?


Yes, the plan is to build a full scale prototype, which is able to carry heavy speakers. Peace and war is a great theme because it’s so bizarre. It’s the proof that we are no better than nature. All my upcoming pieces will be based on human behaviour… or we could say, human nature. 


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