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Lebensatem / Dresden

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  • LEBENSATEM / DRESDEN
    BREATH OF LIFE / DRESDEN
    Kathedrale Ss. Trinitatis, Dresden, Germany
    © Stuart Williams 2011 – 2015. All rights reserved.

     
    2015 will mark the 70th anniversary of the firebombing of Dresden. In the closing days of World War II, three days and nights of Allied bombing created a devastating firestorm which destroyed Dresden… a Baroque city of unparalleled architectural treasures. With the war’s outcome virtually a forgone conclusion, the loss of Dresden — Florence on the Elbe — was a profound loss to the cultural heritage of the whole world.
     
    In homage to Dresden’s survival and renewal, and to honor the 70th anniversary observance of an iconic moment in world history, American artist, Stuart Williams, will install “Lebensatem / Dresden” at the historic Dresden Cathedral (Kathedrale Ss. Trinitatis) in 2015. Williams will transform the facade with light... making the Cathedral appear to “breathe.” Waves of light, rising and falling at the pace of human breath, will create the visual impression of respiration. The Dresden Cathedral was completed in 1738, and is one of Dresden’s foremost landmarks. With its prominent setting on the River Elbe, it is a key component of Dresden's historic "silhouette,” and with its soaring Baroque tower reflecting in the river, a light installation here becomes an artwork on the scale of the cityscape. (All lighting is computer-controlled, energy-efficient, LED technology.)
     
    Said the artist, “Given Dresden’s nearly total destruction in February 1945, I think the vision of one of its greatest historic landmarks appearing to breathe will be extremely moving. As an artist, I see the project as a way of honoring the survival and renewal of one of Europe's most beautiful cities. In the end, it becomes an affirmation of life itself.”

    In the words of Kurt Vonnegut, author of Slaughterhouse Five
    “I would have given my life to save Dresden for the world’s generations to come. That is how everyone should feel about every city on Earth.” 

     
    This project is endorsed by: City of Dresden, Mayor's Office; the Free State of Saxony; City of Dresden, Department of Culture and Heritage; the Dresden Cathedral: City of Columbus, Mayor's Office; Dresden Sister City Inc.; Columbus Sister Cities International; Columbus Art Commission International; Columbus Public Art 2012; the U.S. Consulate in Leipzig; the U.S. Embassy in Berlin; and the New York Foundation for the Arts.

    The New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) is the fiscal sponsor of the Dresden project, which allows all contributions to be tax deductible to the full extent of the law. Click here to make a donation.
     
    Sponsors: City of Dresden, Mayor's Office; Dresden Sister City Inc.; Columbus Sister Cities International; U.S. Consulate Leipzig; The Westin Bellevue Dresden; Hotel Taschenbergpalais Kempinski Dresden; Stagelight, Coesfeld, Germany; and dozens of individuals and friends. (grants and in-kind contributions)
     
  • Artist's sketch simulating the project as seen from the Marienbrücke (bridge over the River Elbe).
    © Stuart Williams 2012. Click on image to enlarge.
  • Through the most basic medium of light, the Dresden Cathedral — destroyed in WWII, and rebuilt stone by stone in the 1980s — appears to breathe, becoming a poignant metaphor for life itself. With its prominent setting on the River Elbe, it is a key component of Dresden's historic "silhouette.” And with its soaring Baroque tower reflecting in the river, a light installation here becomes an artwork on the scale of the cityscape.
  • Artist's sketch #1 (edition of 25)                                                                                               
    BREATH OF LIFE / DRESDEN
    Fine art print on “Arches” archival water color paper
    © Stuart Williams 2012.
  • LEBENSATEM / DRESDEN
    Kathedrale Ss. Trinitatis, Dresden
    © Stuart Williams 2011 – 2015
     
    Im Jahr 2015 begeht Dresden den 70. Jahrestag der Bombenangriffe auf die Stadt. In den letzten Tagen des 2. Weltkrieges verursachte die dreitägige Bombardierung der Stadt durch die Alliierten Streitkräfte einen alles vernichtenden Feuersturm, der Dresden zerstörte… eine barocke Stadt mit unvergleichlichen Architekturdenkmälern. Vor allem angesichts dessen, dass der Ausgang des Krieges praktisch feststand, war der Verlust Dresdens – das auch Florenz an der Elbe genannt wird – ein bitterer Verlust für das kulturelle Welterbe.
     
    Zu Ehren des Überlebens und Wiederaufbaus der Stadt Dresden, und im Gedenken an den 70. Jahrestag dieses bedeutungsvollen Momentes der Weltgeschichte, wird der US-amerikanische Künstler Stuart Williams im Jahr 2015 „Lebensatem / Dresden“ an der historischen Dresdner Kathedrale Ss. Trinitatis installieren. Williams wird die Fassade der Kathedrale durch Licht so transformieren, dass die Kathedrale scheinbar „atmen“ wird. Lichtwellen werden im Rhythmus des menschlichen Atmens an der Fassade der Kirche ansteigen und abfallen, und dadurch den visuellen Anschein der Respiration erwecken. Die Dresdner Kathedrale (Katholische Hofkirche) wurde im Jahr 1738 erbaut und ist eines der wichtigsten Architekturdenkmäler der Stadt.  Ihre zentrale Lage am Ufer der Elbe macht sie zu einem Schlüsselbaustein in Dresdens historischer Stadtsilhouette, und an ihrem hohen, barocken Kirchturm, der sich im Fluss spiegelt, wird eine Lichtinstallation automatisch zu einem Kunstwerk, das sich in das gesamte Stadtbild eingliedert. (Die gesamte Beleuchtung ist computergesteuert und verwendet energieeffiziente LED-Technologie).
     
    In den Worten Kurt Vonneguts, des Autors von „Schlachthof Nummer 5“:
    „Ich hätte mein Leben gegeben, um Dresden für die nächsten Generationen zu retten. So sollten wir alle über jede Stadt dieser Erde denken.“

    "Angesichts der fast vollständigen Zerstörung Dresdens im Februar 1945 denke ich, dass ein scheinbar atmendes historisches Gebäude dieser Stadt ein tief bewegender Anblick sein wird. Als Künstler sehe ich das Projekt auch als Möglichkeit, dem Überleben und Wiederaufbau einer wunderschönen Stadt Respekt zu zollen. Letztendlich ist das eine Lebensbejahung." — Stuart Williams

    Sponsoren: Landeshauptstadt Dresden, Büro der Oberbürgermeisterin; Verein zur Förderung der Städtepartnerschaft Columbus-Dresden in Columbus; Verein zur Förderung der Städtepartnerschaften von Columbus; U.S. Consulate, Leipzig; U.S. Embassy, Berlin; Westin Bellevue Dresden; Hotel Taschenbergpalais Kempinski Dresden; Stagelight, Coesfeld, Deutschland.

    Das Projekt wird von den folgenden Organisationen unterstützt:
    Landeshauptstadt Dresden, Büro der Oberbürgermeisterin, sowie Amt für Kultur und Denkmalschutz; Freistaat Sachsen; City of Columbus, Mayor's Office; Dresden Sister City, Inc.; Columbus Sister Cities International; Columbus Art Commission International, Columbus Public Art 2012.
  • Here is a public artwork linking two former adversaries from WWII — the single most deadly war in human history — offering a breathing beacon of hope, and a compelling message for world peace.
  • Known for centuries as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities — Florence on the Elbe — Dresden held no significance as a military or industrial center. Tens of thousands died in the firebombing of Dresden in February 1945, and with them, the leveling of a Baroque city of unparalleled architectural treasures was a profound loss to the whole world. Said the artist, “The irony is not lost on me that I am a citizen of one of the two nations who destroyed Dresden.”
  • Artist's sketch simulating the project as seen from Augustusstraße. © Stuart Williams 2012
    Click on image to enlarge.
     
    Artist's sketch #2 (edition of 25)
    BREATH OF LIFE / DRESDEN
    Fine art print on “Arches” archival water color paper
    © Stuart Williams 2012.
  • Waves of light smoothly rise and fall at the pace of human breath.
  • Above is a recent photo of Dresden's famous "silhouette" along the River Elbe. All of the buildings in this photo, along with most of the historic city center, were virtually demolished in the bombing of Dresden in 1945. The Kathedrale Ss. Trinitatis (1738) is the project site, and is the tower on the far right. In the mid 1980s — forty years after WWII — it was fully reconstructed. The Frauenkirche (the large dome on the far left) was built in 1726. The dome collapsed during the fire storm ignited by the bombing. Its reconstruction was completed in 2004, just 10 years ago, thus finally restoring Dresden's historic silhouette to what it had been for centuries.
  • The Venetian painter Canaletto (1722–1780) painted this view of Dresden's “silhouette” in 1748. The Dresden Cathedral — the project site — is the tallest tower on the right.
  • Canaletto's View: Three historical views of Dresden by the painter Canaletto have been marked throughout the city by empty steel frames in the shape of an easel. Each easel frames one of Canaletto's view points of today's Dresden and is accompanied by an image of his corresponding painting (see the painting above).
  • Dresden before it was bombed.
  • Dresden after it was bombed in February 1945.                                                               Click on image to enlarge.
     
    “I would have given my life to save Dresden for the world's generations to come. That is how everyone should feel about every city on Earth.”
     Kurt Vonnegut
  • The annual observance of the bombing of Dresden has become a “cause célèbre” for neo-Nazis across Germany and Europe. Thousands of them march in the streets of Dresden each year. Far larger numbers of
    anti-Fascist demonstrators gather to protest Nazism and Fascism.
  • What led to this project in Dresden?                                                                       Click on image to enlarge.
     
    In 2011 Williams was commissioned to create a large scale outdoor installation in downtown Columbus, Ohio. “Breath of Life / Columbus” (above) was installed in 2012. During the planning of the Columbus project, Columbus Sister Cities International. and Dresden Sister City Inc. commissioned Williams to go to Dresden, Germany (sister city to Columbus) to research potential sites for a “sister installation” in Dresden. Seed money was provided by both organizations, as well as by the City of Dresden, and planning and fund raising have been ongoing for the last two years. Recently, the Dresden installation has taken on even deeper symbolic meaning, as the City of Dresden has welcomed the suggestion of Dresden Sister City Inc., to have “Breath of Life / Dresden” take place in 2015 to coincide with the 70th anniversary observance of the bombing of Dresden.
  • Was führte zu diesem Projekt in Dresden?
     
    Im Jahre 2011 erhielt Williams den Auftrag, eine großflächige Außeninstallation im Zentrum der Stadt Columbus (Ohio) zu kreieren. „Breath of Life / Columbus“ (oben) wurde 2012 installiert. In der Planungsphase des Columbuser Projektes baten Columbus Sister Cities International und Dresden Sister City, Inc. Williams, nach Dresden zu reisen und mögliche Standorte für eine „Parallelinstallation“ in Columbus‘ Partnerstadt zu erkunden. Beide Organisationen und die Stadt Dresden unterstützten den Künstler dabei finanziell, und seit zwei Jahren laufen nun die Vorbereitungen und Kapitalbeschaffung für das Projekt. Inzwischen hat die Dresden-Installation eine noch tiefere Bedeutung erhalten, und zwar durch die Idee der Städtepartnerschaftsorganisation Dresden Sister City, Inc., „Lebensatem / Dresden“ im Februar 2015, parallel zu den Gedenkveranstaltungen zum 70. Jahrestag der Bombenangriffe auf die Stadt, zu installieren, und die Stadt Dresden steht diesem Vorschlag offen gegenüber.
  • Click icon above for technical details.
  • Untitled - The State of The Art
    Berlin, September 2012 (Deutsch)
    Click on icon above, or click here.
  • Untitled - The State of The Art
    Berlin, September 2012 (English translation)
    Click on icon above, or click here.
  • Mixed media study for BREATH OF LIFE / DRESDEN                                          Click on image to enlarge.
    © Stuart Williams 2013.
    (Edition #2) 
    Signed by the artist.
  • Mixed media study for BREATH OF LIFE / DRESDEN 
    © Stuart Williams 2013.
    (Edition #4) 
    ​Signed by the artist.