Cloud Walk 11 on Furka Pass
As the philosopher Bernhard Waldenfels once remarked in a conversation, cloud walks ‚"preserve the clouds' environmental character up to the point of being enclouded and immersed in the atmosphere". To allow the clouds to keep their environmental character admittedly harbours the consequence that at the outset it is impossible to say whether the walk will visibly lead into a cloud. In this respect cloud walks are in their essence on a par with a cloud. In its presence a cloud already intrinsically manifests its absence. So one should be prepared for the possibility that on arrival at one‚Äôs destination the previously still present cloud could also be absent and thus reveal its other side. A walk therefore does not become a cloud walk simply because there are clouds about, but because it is about the clouds.
On the afternoon of 31 August 2017, up on the Furka Pass in the high alpine region of Switzerland, vast, low-lying clouds drew past. Through heavy, incessant rain the route led down from Hotel Furkablick into a cloud. To my surprise, much further down I encountered a herd of curious heifers. I had already begun hearing their bells higher up, but inside the cloud it took me a long time to make out exactly where the cows were standing. All of a sudden they emerged. One cow stuck close to me until I made my way back, alternately tugging out grass and inquisitively nosing my rucksack. Had she been detailed by her peers to keep an eye on me, to make sure that everything was right and proper? After all, I had ventured into their territory. Having sucked a small part of the cloud with my mouth into the separation funnel (fig. 10) I had brought with me I started to head back. Before reaching Hotel Furkablick I walked back out of the cloud.
Furka Pass was discovered for art in the early 1980s by James Lee Byars. His performance, 'Drop of Black Perfume' signalled the start of an artistic exploration of this high alpine location in the 1980s and 1990s that was initiated by the gallerist Marc Hostettler and the Alfred Richterlich Foundation. The approach they took was predominantly characterised by a series of minimal actions. In this there are parallels to the Cloud Walks. They too are minimal in their approach. It is above all in small gestures that landscape can be aesthetically experienced.
Ill. I: In the early afternoon of 31 August 2017 the cloud drifted up the valley during pouring rain
Lucius und Annemarie Burckhardt Stiftung
Translation: Matthew Partridge