2002 – 2004, Caroline Bittermann & Peter Duka
Rolandswerth – Parkstraße / Weingärtenstraße
Taking a quotation by the Romantic writer Novalis as their starting point, Bittermann & Duka have created a sculptural ensemble in historic Hentzenpark. The centrepiece of the park in Rolandswerth is a high tower which has been planted with greenery and is inhabited by animals. You are also welcomed as you enter the park by a white entrance gate and park benches which were designed by the artists. A letter sculpture is installed beside the Rhine.
In their joint works, the artist duo Bittermann & Duka started from the premise that landscape and nature are perceived as a picture, because our notions of landscape and nature are determined through pictures. In doing so they referred to the history of landscape and garden architecture, which extends back over 300 years. Here, nature was formed consciously and unconsciously according to pictures which were regarded as aesthetic and Romantic models of beauty.
Bittermann & Duka also took up this concept in their work geheime gärten rolandswerth (»secret gardens of rolandswerth«) for the district of Rolandswerth in Remagen. They stated that their goal was »to continue from the historic point when not only painting influenced landscape design but also garden architecture led to new subjects in painting«.
Caro Bittermann und Peter Duka, 2002
They stated that their goal was »to continue from the historic point when not only painting influenced landscape design but also garden architecture led to new subjects in painting«.
In order to expand their painting spectrum the artists first created digital 3-D spaces. They then used them as painting references and as independent prints. At the beginning of their work there was therefore a computer simulation: a picture of the tower which forms the visual and ecological centre of their geheime Gärten.
But actual gardening was not neglected either. The first step was to bring historic Hentzenpark back to life with the help of the forestry authority. Paths were laid and park areas were created in the Victorian gardens. Bats and wild bees were welcomed into the concrete plant centre designed by Bittermann & Duka. Their designs also included the entrance gate to the gardens, the typography of the letter sculpture on the steps beside the Rhine and the documentation in the old greenhouse.
The theoretical starting point for the entire garden design can be found in the writings of Novalis (1772–1801), one of the most important representatives of Early Romanticism.
Visitors can attempt to find the sentence from Novalis's »Allgemeines Brouillon« of 1798: »Perfect speculation leads back to Nature«, which is enigmatically emblazoned on gate, tower and steps, as are the letters N-O-V-A-L-I-S on the park benches.
In their artwork, Bittermann & Duka demonstrate contrasts such as nature and culture, action and representation, and also Romanticism and the Enlightenment. The longing for the suspension of such pairs of opposites is a central theme of their artistic oeuvre.
Caroline Bittermann was born in Munich in 1957; she lives and works in Berlin and Paris.
Peter Duka was born in Munich in 1954; he lives and works in Berlin.