Marikke Heinz-Hoek is a German artist who is well known in Bremen where she lives and exhibits internationally. After seeing her thought-provoking video work Rider on the Storm/Apocalyptic Rider in the Bremen Kunsthalle I was fortunate to meet her.
Marikke Heinz-Hoek, Rider on the Storm / Apocalyptic Rider, 2002/2008. Video loop. Photo: Deanna Sirlin.
Left: Marikke Heinz-Hoek in her studio in Bremen, Germany. Photo: Courtesy of the Landesmuseum Emden.
Right: Marikke Heinz-Hoek, Rider on the Storm as exhibited at the Bremen Kunsthalle. Photo: Wolfgang Heinz.
Heinz-Hoek is an artist in the German Romantic tradition who addresses her relationship to the landscape of Northern Germany, which is very close to The Netherlands. She makes videos, installations, objects, and drawings that portray this landscape with its large sky, flat terrain and proximity to the sea. Seventeenth-century Dutch versions of this landscape, including some drawings and etchings by Rembrandt, convey a sense of the vastness of the land and the smallness of man articulated with a line that is fluid, gestural and articulate. Jumping to the nineteenth century I feel the presence of Caspar David Friedrich whose masterpieces of the German Romantic landscape reflect on the sublime. Heinz-Hoek, who has made a series of works where she draws the panorama of Lower Saxony on photographs taken from space, speaks to the relationship of our tiny presence to the universe in similar ways.
Marikke Heinz-Hoek, Stardust 7, 2015. Drawing on photo taken from space. C-Print, edition: 3
At the Bremen Kunsthalle, Rider On The Storm is viewed on a small vertical monitor with a black frame in the same gallery as seventeenth-century works. It fits so well with these work; their kinship and the dialogue between them is uncanny. As the image moves the palette of blues, grays, and purples becomes a yellow cloud filled sky. The surfer is a tiny figure holding the wave. When you read the title you hear in your head the last song Jim Morrison recorded. The Doors’ single was released in 1971, just at the time Heinz-Hoek was emerging as an artist and both works reflect a sense of existential fragility and vulnerability.
“I created the video on a very stormy day in summer 2002 (Pogum). I took the main focus on a surfer who rode his wave for several minutes. Then he fell and vanished. That´s my metaphor for mankind, always at the risk of the nature's dangers.” -- Marikke Heinz-Hoek
Marikke Heinz-Hoek, Rider on the Storm as exhibited at the Bremen Kunsthalle.
Photo: Wolfgang Heinz.
Rider on the Storm
At the Bremen Kunsthalle
By Christoph Zuschlag
If you enter the hall displaying seventeenth century Dutch paintings on the second floor of the Bremen Kunsthalle, your eye will be drawn, involuntarily, to a contemporary video screen that, at first glance, seems out of place among the Old Masters. Yet, on closer look, it is wonderfully integrated with them. As a modern marine piece, it adds its own special accent. Rider on the Storm (Apokalyptischer Reiter 2) by the Bremen artist, Marikke Heinz-Hoek. Under dark, fast moving clouds a windsurfer glides on storm-rolled water, is tossed up, disappearing from the scene, only to reappear in the next moment. The camera follows the surfer from shore, almost as if glued to his feet. The roar of the surf and the rush of the wind accompany the moving images. Color and sound are strangely distorted, making the scene seem surreal, almost magical. After a brief cross-fade, the video starts over. An infinite loop, without beginning or end.
How and where did the video originate? The artist grew up in East Fresia, where the Meerbusen Dollart is located, half of it in Germany, half in the Netherlands. It was formed during several storm surges in the Middle Ages that submerged several dozen villages, drowning a great many people. Marikke Heinz-Hoek has dedicated a total of three videos to these communities and victims of natural catastrophe. Many of her drawings, paintings, videos, photographs, installations and texts are devoted to exploring themes of remembering and legend building. Rider on the Storm (Apokalyptischer Reiter) was filmed with a handheld camera in the summer of 2002. Around noon on an extremely stormy day, the artist filmed the scene from the vantage point of an abandoned drilling island. She inverted the colors, turning positive into negative, making the sky appear sometimes sulphur-yellow and the water along the shoreline almost black, increasing the threatening, apocalyptic atmosphere. In the studio, the video and the simultaneously recorded sound were further manipulated and transformed into very slow motion. The inverted coloration and the slow motion result in the above-mentioned unnatural and abstract effects of the video. The artist created two versions: Version 1 in landscape aspect, with an edition of 10 copies (of which one is in the East Fresia Landesmuseum Emden); Version 2 in portrait aspect, in an edition of 3 copies (of which one is in the Kunsthalle Bremen). The title Rider on the Storm is a play on the song by The Doors (1971) with its deep, melancholy lyrics.
Marikke Heinz-Hoek´s Rider on the Storm (Apokalyptischer Reiter) is at the mercy of the mighty power of nature, like Caspar David Friedrich´s Monk by the Sea (1908-10). It is a metaphor for human existence, always at risk. How does that first verse of the song by the Doors go? "Riders on the storm/Riders on the storm/ Into this house we ´re born/Into this world we´re thrown/Like a dog without a bone/An actor out on loan/Riders on the storm."
Christoph Zuschlag: Art Historian. Born in 1964 in Hannover/Germany. Studied Art History, History and Archaeology in Heidelberg and Vienna. Museum internships in Berlin, Vienna, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. 1991 PhD. 1991-1998 Assistant professor at the University of Heidelberg. 1998-2001 Scholar of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. 2000-2006 Vice President of the Heidelberger Kunstverein. 2002 Habilitation. 2003-06 research project and teaching position at the Free University of Berlin. Since 2007 full professor for art history and art education at the
University of Koblenz-Landau. 2008-2014 member of the advisory board of the Center for Provenance Research at the National Museums Berlin. Since 2015 member of the advisory board of the "Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste" (German Lost Art Foundation) in Magdeburg. Main interests include art and art policy in the Third Reich as well as modern and contemporary art.