letters from the pandemic #7 Apr 16 2021



What it is One tends to believe that crisis' have a noticeable end - there are the proverbial bells ringing when the war is over, the fireworks of liberation, parades in the streets and avenues of the cities. It has been little over a year that the world has slid into the pandemic, as of now culminating in more than half a million deaths in my country and almost 3 million globally, prompting our governments to take to severe measures in prolonged shutdowns of the economy, asking the population to take protective actions in social distancing, mask wearing, testing, tracing and finally vaccination. The US has now vaccinated more than 120 million people with at least one shot, more than one third of the population are now partly protected against contracting a severe case of Covid-19. We are all awaiting a return to “normalcy”, but it seems clear to me that rather than a return to life, as it has been before the crisis, arriving with a bang of reopening and activity, there will be a a slow climb to reach a new “normalcy”, a lot has been lost and will only come back in a different form if at all. Gravity, the physics of it, and what I call the “the gravity of the mind” will take a toll, it is always easy to sink to the bottom, one just has to stop moving upward and it is achieved automatically. Our civilization is the result of upward movement, it is easy to lose it, just stop keeping it up and we will sink back into barbarism. The nature of the universe is darkness, light is brought into it by force, literally - the human condition is an equivalent to this duality, we have an animal side to us, which can be lifted or lit up by our spirit or soul. Gravity and our reality of three dimensions, illustrate this on another level, we can only fully experience space if we fall through it - or fly. . Since 2019 I have been working on a series called “the sons of god”, not continuously, but on and off - the title for this series comes from a rather strange verse in Genesis 6/6: “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days - and also afterward when the sons of God would consort with the daughters of man, who would bear to them. They were the mighty, who, from old, were men of devastation.” The motive of the falling man has been interesting to me for a long time, I remember seeing Beckmann’s “Der Stuerzende” as a young man, which left a lasting impression on me. In the 1980ies, I worked on some paintings with that theme, but deemed them unsuccessful and subsequently I destroyed them. It has been a great joy to me to return to this now 40 years later, knowing a bit more and with confidence to allow myself to play with the notions of form and space. David Stern NYC 2021

resources Works on Artsy 2020 Zoom Conversation with art historian Eckhart Gillen about 'the sons of God' (German) 2020 letters from the pandemic (blog)







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