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Monday Magazine

Monday Magazine Story - By Werner Stürenburg

Sep 14 - Sep 20, 1998.



NANAS CELEBRATE THE SECRETS OF LIFE
by Werner Stürenburg
Synchronicity - what's that? I experience it all the time. For example: Last Monday evening, I watched TV. A film about multi-national artist Niki de St.Phalle. Of course, Nanas played a prominent role. But best was her main work, the Tarot garden in Italy. Since I couldn't find it on the web, I started hunting for her. Not easy. This morning, Charles Kessler wrote about Silicon Valley Tarot. (Makes a great Xmas gift! Really funny, too. Headline: "Cheaper than a consultant. Same results.") At noon, I tracked down her assistant in Paris (she lives in California now). Had to call 6 people! (Ever heard of the SixDegrees-theory?)

Silicon Valley Tarot, The HackerThe noted psychologist C.G. Jung observed that in addition to physical laws and also biological and psychological and sociological and maybe some other kind of law there is a kind of phenomenon in this world which does not obey causal connection. He called this phenomenon synchronicity to denote the most obvious characteristic of close relationship in time.

You, too will have observed this phenomenon many times in your life. You think of somebody, and a little later the phone rings and this person calls you. This could be due to some psi phenomenon we can't explain yet, just as electricity did exist long before scientists had any theory about it. But it doesn't make sense that Charles Kessler should decide to publish information on Tarot this very morning. He certainly didn't have any intention to do me a favor. In fact, he doesn't know me. He could have published it any time before or after this occasion.

C.G. Jung just observed the fact and didn't draw any particular conclusions from it. I don't either. I just notice the instances of synchronicity and live with them. Often I am amused and feel reassured. To reconstruct the story and see how synchronicity works, I'll tell you the whole story (shortened a little to save on your time):

Niki de St.Phalle It was only by chance that I saw this film at all. I remembered that I searched for the Tarot garden a couple of weeks or months ago. I found only her name listed by some galleries, no pictures. What a pity.

The next day I started on the new issue of my journal Weekly Work. I looked at the last issue, picked a new painting and started writing. I recalled my reasoning from last week. Then I tried again to relate the process of creating art to the reader.

Modern Art looks often very much as a product of reasoning and arbitrariness. However, what I had in mind resembled much more the function of movies. People watch movies beacuse they feel good with it. Movies tell tales and dreams and change the viewer exposed to it, very much like paintings.

The film about Niki came to mind again. I reached for my book about her and decided to use some of her Nanas to illustrate the need of the artist to do something he doesn't know anything about and the profit society draws from this work.

While writing, it occured to me that the Nanas have predecessors in prehistorical times, hence I scanned two handy examples from another book. At this point I decided to do some more and add pictures of her masterpiece, the Tarot garden in Italy. This garden was still under construction when my book went in print. I missed better photos and remembered my futile search on the web. It would be nice to have the garden on the web, wouldn't it? I kept thinking about it.

Next day, I looked up a number of the TV station. I wanted to get a contact to Niki to ask her if I could bring her Tarot garden to the net. Somehow I couldn't find the right number in Mainz and decided to call a local office in Hannover to get the number of the main office. Normal business.

I happened to get connected to an understanding man who was interested when I mentioned the name Niki de St.Phalle. After my introduction, he remembered having seen the film himself, being still impressed. He was fascinated by my idea and apologised for not being able to help me. He gave me the phone number of the main office. Normal business still.

Suddenly, he interrupted himself and looked up the phone number of a museum director in Goslar whom he not only knew, he knew that this director had contact to Niki. With best regards. Surprise! The next day I called up the museum director.

She regretted to not being able to help me. She had lost contact. But she liked my idea and gave me the names of two colleagues whom she believed to possibly have contact. After several turns I reached a secretary who was really fascinated with the garden and had tried several times to find out the address, without success.

She knew that Niki lives in California, had even a fax number and had in fact faxed her, but in vain: Niki did not answer. She complained that she couldn't even help doctorate students who needed information very badly. Not so easy, then. She gave me the number of Pontus Hulten or rather the Tinguely museum in Basel and the number of Niki's gallery in Paris, run by a nephew of the late president Mitterand. Wow. More famous names. Tinguely was Niki's husband and collaborator.

I called the museum first. At least I thought so. Talk to another secretary. But the call was rerouted to a voice mailbox of Pontus Hulten. I was so much taken by surprise that I didn't know whether to use German or English. Pontus Hulten is Swedish. He is very famous and has shown Niki many times. She built the huge Nana in his museum in Stockholm back in 1966. Pontus Hulten was director at the new museum in Bonn in his later years, but I wasn't sure if he spoke German comfortably.

Therefore I switched to English, told his machine what I was up to and requested a call back. The next day, I tried again (well, actually it was today) and was transferred to his mailbox again. This time I realized that the female voice speaking "Pontus Hulten" was actually the voice of Niki, maybe taken right off the film.
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Well, this didn't seem a good way to go. I decided to call the French gallery. I'm not at all fluent in French. Happily, the man I talked to spoke perfectly German. We raved about Niki and the internet. His gallery will be going online next week. The internet is coming strong.

Unfortunately, he didn't have contact to Niki and didn't know more about the garden than I. Sigh. But he gave me the address and the phone number of Niki's assistant in Paris, working on a "catalogue raisonnée". Smile.

In the meantime, I read about Silicon Valley Tarot (see above) and tried it. You can use Tarot similar to the I Ging to find out about yourself and your future. You can do this with Silicon Valley Tarot on the internet (tongue in cheek).

I didn't relate this to Niki and the Tarot garden when I played with it for a minute. I didn't realize synchronicity working already all the time. I met people all the time ready for the right thing to do. Like sailing with good winds.

In the afternoon, I explained my endeavor to the assistant, and she immediately told me the URL of the official Tarot garden site produced by Niki herself: Http://www.nikidesaintphalle.com. The garden was finished in early summer this year and open for the public since then. The web site might be new, too.

It absolutely beautiful. I downloaded it immediately to my HD for convenient offline browsing. No need for me to bring the garden to the net. (I'm desperately short on time anyway.) I'm curious if this is the end of the story.

Now here we are: Visit the garden on the web.

What about SixDegrees? This is a new service from early '98 and a game and an experiment only possible on the internet. The initial idea is quite old, but nobody could test it. Here it is:

When someone, I guess it was Marconi, invented the telephone more than 100 years ago, he calculated that if all people on earth had a telephone, it would take some 5,4 contacts to connect anybody with anybody else.

This sounds absolutely incredible, so they give you an example. Imagine you want to contact the king of Sweden and you live in Baton Rouge. You know the director of police. First degree. He knows the senator in Washington. Second degree. The senator knows the embassador to Sweden. Third degree. The embassador knows the king of Sweden. Fourth degree.

The quest for Niki was a good test for the theory. I called the TV person. First degree. He gave me the number of the museum director in Goslar. Second degree. She gave me the name of the museum director in Bonn. Third degree. His secretary gave me the phone number of the other museum director. Fourth degree. Her secretary gave me the fax number of Niki. Bingo. But, alas, I had to expect that Niki wouldn't answer. Therefore I called the gallerist in Paris. Fifth degree. He gave me the number of her assistant. Sixth degree. Bingo at last.

Joe Doe, 568, Good Luck In Weekly Work, I used Niki's Nanas to prove my point. Niki produced art all her life to develop her personality. Her first works expressed great rage. She shot with a gun at the pictures. Imagine that! Next came the pain. She built huge female figures torn apart, looking like a junk yard. Then came the Nanas. With the Nanas came the joy. The Nanas celebrate life, and the Tarot garden shows all the secrets of life.

In the last issue of Weekly Work, I showed how important facets of life are represented in the Punch and Judy show. This is equally true for the Tarot figures. All secrets of life can be represented with them, and Niki de St.Phalle has created a monumental environment to expose yourself to.

The figures in the featured painting can likewise be read as representing archetypical facets of individual life. Expose yourself to it and see: This painting is reassuring and has great power. If you are interested in a blowup, click here.

Truly yours,
Signature Dr. Werner Stürenburg, Germany

 

 

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