(Germany) *1980 in Frankfurt/Main
The artist Raul Walch, who lives in Berlin, studied in the city’s Institute for Spatial Experiments under Olafur Eliasson. Walch’s ephemeral and location-specific interventions, in which he deals in multifarious ways with textiles and their qualities as material, are shown around the world. His characteristic colourful fabric panels serve as kites, as spinnakers for sailing boats, or as symbolically non-representative flags. Walch is represented in four locations in “Blickachsen 11”: in Bad Homburg, Eppstein Castle, Frankfurt and Kronberg. As recurring landmarks, these specially made works link their “Blickachsen” locations like flags fluttering flamboyantly in the wind. His work “Blue Hour”, in which 48 linen flags in various shades of blue have been attached to a frame, stands like a giant ship’s mast in the Bad Homburg Kurpark. Through the movement of the cloth in the wind, the colour fields on the individual surfaces melt optically together – and will increasingly blend with time and the effect of the weather. The unforeseeable colour changes are reflected in the indeterminate light conditions in the blue twilight hour of the work’s title.
For the “Blickachsen 11” location at Eppstein Castle, Walch has designed a site-specific installation related to the building and its history that challenges our conventional perception. Shimmering flags with abstract geometric patterns flutter above the tower and walls of the castle. The material, moving in the wind, breaks open the uneven, monotone surfaces of the castle ruins, gives them colour and reflects the light. The glowing colours and metallically reflective surfaces of the installation are visible from far beyond the castle. The installation creates a direct connection to the meaning of flags as signs and as a non-verbal means of communication, and marks the castle as a place of retreat and refuge. In addition to its engagement with the location, time also plays a fundamental role in the work, for the colours in the flags will fade over the course of the exhibition. And in a further reference to the location, Walch has integrated examples of the local Eppstein foils into his work.
As a soft and motile counterpart to the clear lines and geometry of the Poelzig building, four pieces of cloth are hoisted onto the flagpoles at the Campus Westend. Raul Walch’s kinetic work takes up ornamental features of the building’s precise architectural grid, yet translates them into a pictorial surface. Such a transformation of the façade into textile material is emblematic of Hans Poelzig’s conception of the façade, which addresses the ‘cladding theory’ of the architectural theorist Gottfried Semper: Poelzig, also, conceived the building’s façade as a ‘dress’, albeit one that protects and decorates, without curtaining the construction. While the stonework of today’s campus building has remained static and in one place for decades, Walch’s work changes not only by the second with the movement of the wind, but also over the long term through its disintegrating materiality and fading colours: the pigments used are exclusively natural and not synthesized. The luminous textiles stand out clearly against the travertine stone façade, lending an additional layer of cladding to this controversial and historically-charged building.
Raul Walch designed his work “Untitled Semaphore” for the Kronberg location in “Blickachsen 11”. A piece of linen material richly painted in acrylic colours is fixed onto the Wilhelmine flagstaff in front of the former Schloss Friedrichshof. The material worked in this way, installed on the flagstaff, combines pictorial and sculptural effects, taking on an artistic identity that goes beyond its ostensible use as a flag. This flag carries no coat of arms or other symbols, it is not hoisted as a sign of ownership. Though its appearance may call up the history of the palace as imperial residence, this only serves to draw attention to the present: namely, to the present-day use of the building as a leisure and cultural centre – and as a place for artistic reflection. The flag as a semaphore points to the imaginary sight lines stretching out to Raul Walch’s other works in their respective “Blickachsen” locations: a semaphore is a mast with moving parts giving out optical signals, or also a sytem for signalling using flags; in computer science the term is used in the context of process synchronization.