Miguel de Beistegui on how the artwork opens up the Open.
When it works, the artwork ‘spaces’. Its work is a spacing (Räumen). It is
not an object, then, or a representation, but an event. To space, Heidegger
writes, means to clear, to free. This vocabulary, and this sense of space, is precisely
the one Being and Time used to characterize the spatiality of existence.
But what, exactly, does the work clear and free? The Free, in the sense of the
Open. The work spaces and, in doing so, opens up – and onto – the Open. This
is the Open where man finds his dwelling. To dwell is not the same as to
occupy. One occupies a territory, a country or even a planet. To occupy is to fill
and dominate a space. Whether military or not, occupation is always technological,
that is, based on a geometrical projection of space, and oriented
towards control and domination, whether of a people or of resources (and most
often of both). But to dwell is something altogether different. It is to stand
amidst things, the world and others in such a way as to shelter their essence,
and relate to them from the point of view of their presencing. To dwell is
always to dwell on earth, inasmuch as the earth is what cannot be occupied,
appropriated or mastered. As self-secluding, self-sheltering matter, the earth
opens itself only to those for whom reality is composed of more than just presence,
and space more than just actual, physical space. The earth does not
belong to us. We belong to it. As we try to appropriate it, it withdraws.
Where? In itself, of course, but also in certain works, and in Chillida’s in particular,
where it is sheltered. The elemental (the air, the wind, the horizon,
light, stone), as self-sheltering and self-harbouring, finds a shelter in the works
of Chillida, and especially in Zabalaga, the park where many of them today are
gathered, and gathered around a house, a shelter that shelters nature itself as
much as from it. It is also sheltered in ‘In Praise of the Horizon’, a monumental,
semi-circular structure made of concrete, and also set on the coastline.
The piece ‘works’ in a way similar to ‘Depth of Air’: the earth, the sea and the
sky come together through the work. The work gathers them together, and
lets them unfold from the horizon. The horizon appears not as a mere line,
which can of course be accounted for physically, but as the fold of the elemental
itself, from which earth, sea and sky are gathered together. The gathering
of earth, sky and sea in the work point to the priority of art over science, to the
ancestral and immemorial dwelling on earth it facilitates. It reveals the extent
to which, even in the age of techno-culture, there remains the possibility of
artistic dwelling on earth.