Building the barn
“In times like these.“ Finally, these over and over conjured times have begun.
The concept for the exhibition “building the barn” is inspired by the Shakers, a religious community that originated in Europe and then settled in the United States.
The Shakers are to be mentioned in particular because of their peculiar ideology which includes a celibate life, and certainly uses creativity as a means of worshipping their god as well. They maintain a firm belief that god always conceives aesthetics in unison with func-tionality and rewards it accordingly.
The community’s way of life is a safe one for its members. What is being created and built together, that is being shared. Everything an individual does, serves everybody. Individual responsibility cannot be separated from respect and mindfulness, and, at the same time, basic rights are always basic obligations.
The outstanding and enduring Shakers’ architectures bear not only testimony to a very good result, but even more so to harmonious doing. Personal sensitivities and personal development unnoticeably leave their mark on the community’s products, buildings, piec-es of furniture, and on the famous oval bentwood boxes (Shaker boxes / Nice boxes). Wishes, dreams, hopes, desires, and even love are the ingredients that make the amalgam of which everyone eats and has to be nourished. Contradictions and different opinions are incorporated into a clay mass that becomes a big jar which helps everyone in the end. Wa-tertight in action, the jar is always at hand, but stands with dignity on a wooden chest like a sacred statue. The chest itself is unalterably dignified as well, it was crafted by a dozen of hard working hands, and it protectively keeps woven and scantily embroidered draperies. From time to time, they are taken out and then, after being used, gently put back in, spot-less and carefully folded.
Every object like every movement is a statement. Every statement, every action and its repetition are love.
“Love is little, love is low, love will make our spirit grow.”
Voices of women and men mingle in a choir, in those songs that talk about cultivating fields and building houses, that revere the seasons and all the elements, and that are sent to the heavens above.
Young and old gather for a dance. They empty the room in order to make space. In unison with the footsteps, the floor vibrates.
Elusive like a whiff through an open window, fragments get into the room. Solitary de-vised, but celebrating the whole for a moment. Nothing is thought out. Not insisting on one’s truth, a day’s work is accomplished.
text: Siggi Hofer
translation: Stefan Thyri
1 Shaker song, traditional, 19th century