Hannsjörg Voth, Connecting the Earth to the Stars

Himmelstreppe, Goldene Spirale, Stadt des Orion
Hannsjörg Voth
Plaine de Marha, Morocco
31° 33′ 15,7″ N, 4° 28′ 4,4″ W

Hannsjörg Voth is a German artist mainly known for his Land Art constructions in the Moroccan desert. There he built different structures to connect the arid plain to the stars.

Working on the constructed form, the evidence of land art

Hannsjörg Voth is an artist born in 1940 in Germany. He studied art in Bremen and also worked as a carpenter. Very early on, he associated his artistic practice with the territory, putting one into perspective with the other. From then on, he changed scale, abandoned drawing and painting in favor of the construction of works “practicable” by visitors in the landscape. At the time, he is between performance and installation, often finding his inspiration in ancient civilizations such as Egypt. He also experimented in Germany and the Netherlands with simple forms such as the pyramid. His work on the built forms is thus fed by ancient art, his artistic education but also the nostalgia of his father architect.

The attraction of landscape zero

In the 80’s Hannsjörg Voth discovers the Moroccan desert. Attracted by the desertic vastness, the landscape zero, he built his first project in the plain of Marha, between Goulmima and Arfoud. The Himmelstreppe (Stairway to Heaven) was built and self-financed between 1980 and 1987. Fascinated by astronomy, he built a staircase whose top side walls are narrowed, creating a vertical slit facing the stars. The structure/sculpture is 19m high and has 56 steps, creating a shadow that runs all around. The interior of this monumental staircase is also accessible, as different rooms are built into the structure.

This first project, quite representative of the artist’s vision, will lead him to the construction of a second project, the Goldene Spirale (Golden Spiral). Also called the snail, it is a 260m long wall that spreads out in a spiral. Built between 1993 and 1997, it still represents a symbolic stellar structure. The wall rises up to 6m high and in its center is dug a well in the heart of which floats a boat.

The Himmelstreppe
Hannsjörg Voth Himmelstreppe
Hannsjörg Voth Himmelstreppe
Hannsjörg Voth
The Goldene Spirale
Hannsjörg Voth Goldene Spirale
Hannsjörg Voth
The desert constellation

The last project is his most imposing project. The Stadt des Orion (City of Orion) was built between 1998 and 2003 and is situated in the middle of a huge desert area. It is made up of 7 large towers that form a three-dimensional model of the constellation of Orion. Once again its intention is to connect the earth to the sky and more particularly to the celestial. The constellation of Orion is one of the most mythical constellations in many civilizations. It is notably associated with Osiris among the Egyptians but is also present in Sumerian, Greek (from which it takes its name) or Chinese mythology.
The arrangements of these towers are not insignificant: their dimensions have been calculated in proportion to the size and brightness of the stars. The rectangular towers are built in cob, like its previous desertic works. They are obviously observatory towers allowing to follow the course of the 7 most visible stars of the constellation. As in the two other works, a well is dug there.
The sublime black and white photos were taken by the photographer Ingrid Amslinger, his wife.

The Stadt des Orion
Hannsjörg Voth Stadt Orion
Hannsjörg Voth
Hannsjörg Voth Plan Section Orion

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