I lean to you, numb as a fossil.
Tell me I’m here.
– Sylvia Plath
One way of memorizing a text is to imagine it in a house. It presents itself at the front door and steps inside. Here, now, we would be in the hallway. The house needs to be completely empty, a sign. Then the idea is that parts of the text – words, sentences, arguments – are committed to memory by being hung and placed around the house. This creates rooms and corridors to pass through, all the way down to the end of the text, where there must reasonably be an exit.
If we imagine this memory technique as the exterior of a house and the text as what shapes the house’s interior, then the house in its entirety must be the place where the drives to remember and to dream are integrated. The house is the site of dreaming. I see Clara Gesang-Gottowt’s paintings as images from such a house.
Gesang-Gottowt’s pictorial universe is figurative; the paintings show the places and rooms in which memories and dreams are created. The images in themselves are memories and dreams. An ever-changing labour with the images of the indestructible house. Muted wallpaper takes on the shape of water. Accumulations of bright light indicate the work’s movement between disappearance and appearance. Gesang-Gottowt observes what happens when working on the painting and catches sight of the oldest dreams in ever-new memory patterns. Are what we see glimpses from the fixed realm of childhood?
I’m reminded of the opening scene of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris (1972) in which the protagonist is seen wandering through a verdant landscape; it is late summer, maybe early autumn. Next to a pond we see a house, first as a reflection in the water, then in its entirety. An older, rustic, wooden house. It is yellow, a warm yellow, except for the doors and windows. A door is open on to the landscape.