Some Lines in Space
and Messages in a Bottle

Günter Braunsberg
(trans. Sarah C. D. Slenczka)

From immemorial time, man and communication have been inseparable.

Animals also communicate. They alert each other of impending danger and signal well being by means of all audio, visual and tactile capacities at their disposal. But, for us - humans, communication is an especially fundamental feature of our being. Only through intellectual interchange with others do we evolve a personal identity. At the same time, societies develop out of the communicative interrelationships between lone individuals: an increasingly problematic and never-ending process, in both positive (e.g. security and happiness) and negative (e.g. conflict and war) aspects.

Marianne Stüve creates networks. She draws lines in space, she bends expanses of meshwork into spatial objects (which in some cases can even be interpreted in "objective" terms: "medusas", "bottles") or, she employs lines/surfaces/objects to redefine existing architectural spaces ("Blaue Nacht," Nuremberg, 2002). In her most recent composite work, premiered here, she transforms photographs of her three-dimensional work, with the help of digital technology, into two-dimensional "paintings". She thus returns to her original artistic beginnings - but with new techniques and more highly developed messages.

Marianne Stüve's artistic purpose is not merely to weave nylon filaments in space into aesthetically appealing objects d'art or to "paint" pictures with the computer. Far more, her overall creative work is an expression of the inter-involvement of her existence with the existence of others. The result is an exemplary model for the societal network of which we are all a part.

This is symbolized in illustrative, if cryptic terms, by the composite work "Bottles". Observed superficially, the meshwork simply encloses an empty space - that is to say, "nothing". At a more subtle level, however, bottles are containers, which are meant to be filled: in the first instance, with liquids - in the second, with anything - even with thoughts (in other words, "everything"). "Messages in a bottle", are dispatched by their sender into the unexplored realm of nowhere, that is - everywhere. Sender and recipient are strangers! Will the message even reach anyone at all?

What a fascinating metaphor for the relationship between the artist and his audience! Every work of art is a container into which the artist pours his thoughts and at the same time a receptacle for the personal thoughts of each and every viewer. The artist dispatches a completed work on a voyage into the unknown. But, that voyage only leads from “nowhere” to meaningful “everywhere” when a viewer discovers the artwork for himself: when the sealed bottle is opened to reveal the artist's message, or, to receive the thoughts of the viewer. Only then does "nothingness" turn into an "entity."

"Bottles" usually occur, not as lone individuals, but as small social groups, which appear to communicate, not only with the viewer but, also among themselves. Their interplay and interaction reinforces an overall and individual property of versatility, steadfastness and straightforwardness.

These three qualities also describe the personality of Marianne Stüve - and are paired in a most distinctive way with forthrightness, organizational talent and the ability to prevail. Her path to a personal artistic identity was by no means pre-ordained. Originally trained as a foreign-language secretary in Italian and French, she later lived for many years in Brazil with her husband, who was based there professionally and her two sons. Brazil played a key role in Marianne Stüve's development. There, she got to know many highly communicative people. There, she studied art. There, she helped to establish Ponte Cultura, an institution whose Brazilian-European cultural exchange she now organizes. Even today, Marianne Stüve regards herself as a Brazilian-European artist. Communication is central to her activities. Her tool is the world-wide-web - her symbol, the woven spaces of her "Messages in a Bottle".