Client: Gut Holzhausen Estate, Nieheim, Germany
Location: Nieheim, Pömbsen, Germany
Completion date: 2019
Artwork budget: $160,000
Averbuch Rail Art LLC
Johann-Friedrich Freiherr von der Borch
In a large open field utilized as a working cow pasture, with a beautiful forest framing the field on the low hills around the perimeter, an old stone house with a red-tiled roof stands in the center. An 18 meter long massive wood structure representing the skeleton of an old boat is bursting out of the roof of the house in all directions. The mast of the boat reaches 10 meters above the ground while the bow and the stern extend 4 meters outward on each side of the house. The wooden boat structure is assembled from oak beams culled from the surrounding forest, reinforced by an inner steel structure. As visitors to Nieheim, Pömbsen, and the Holzhausen Estate explore the fields and forest, they are invited to walk toward the shed turned sculpture, introducing another dimension to viewing the art. The sculpture becomes a destination among the hills, drawing the viewer through the field. At this point the boundaries between art and life are blurred and where the art begins is in question.
The work utilizes the house as an integral part of the composition creating a play between the two forms: the house and the boat. The unfinished frame or skeletal remains of the boat introduces an inquiry of time. Which one came first, the house or the boat? What was the purpose? And what are the symbolic stories we associate with the image as individual viewers? A house is a place with roots bound to the earth, a shelter of stability and protection. A boat is a seagoing vessel that takes us to the other side of the ocean, to the unknown, while keeping us afloat in the search for our dreams. The House in the Boat The Boat in the House conveys the inner human struggles that most of us share: the conflict between stability and dream, between security and fantasy or adventure. The sculpture conjures imagery and emotion from early mythological stories, namely the story of Noah’s Ark, as well as numerous other flood myths that recur in many cultures. In today’s reality of melting glaciers and rising sea levels, the story of the Ark does not seem like a distant anecdote, nor is it a farfetched tale for the many refugees who uproot their homes for safer shores.