Down to Earth
by Michele Oka Doner
In the furnace hall at the Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg, the US American artist Michele Oka Doner has created an installation out of several elements. The installation, which is entitled “Down to Earth”, transforms the historical furnaces, which have left visible remnants of their alchemical past burnt into the bricks, into magical places – five simple chambers, enclosed in thick walls, become inhabited rooms, the dwelling places of goddesses and "soul catchers": dream worlds that encompass eras and cultures. Observers can enter into this world and be part of it at their leisure.
Oka Doner's installation is not so much aimed at a narrative or purely perceptual spatial production, such as can be found in the work of James Turell or Olafur Eliasson, for example. Her installation at the Nymphenburg site is a three-dimensional, spatial, atmospheric synthesis of the arts, which has some similarities to land art and combines different materials, such as figures made from porcelain and majolica, with natural like time, light, movement through space, and with the energy of the site, to create a work of intrinsic beauty.
"Down to Earth" is a three-dimension synthesis of arts that occupies space and is specific to that location and situation. It is an evocative spatial combination of Oka Doner’s different works. As with the environments of the 1960s and 1970s, it has its origins in an approach that is both spiritual and conceptual, taking the context and materials found in nature as its starting point. In close collaboration with the manufactory, Oka Doner worked on the site for several weeks, consistently incorporating local materials and conditions into the work process of the porcelain and majolika figures she created on site. In a way reminiscent of shamanic rituals and magical practices, Oka Doner systematically incorporated the materials found on site during the creative process, such as stones, branches, and daylight constellations, into her installation.