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Hauling with Etna ... - André Bucher
Volcanic fire is the synthesis of the material and spiritual worlds. On Etna I discovered the image which unites all the images of fire, within us and exterior to us, be they painted, sculpted, conceptual or written ... (THINK LAVA ART p.594). This is what one of André Bucher's numerous verbal volcanoes sounds like. The Swiss sculptor, born in 1924, transferred his studio for a three-week period to Mount Etna's crater rib for the first time in 1976. Where purest lava welled, the torpor should not only be formed by the forces of the mountain, but eventually also by the human body and mind.

By examining the educating qualities of fire for many years, Bucher laid the foundations with which he was able to activate volcanologists and Sicilian authorities to support his project. This way Bucher turned out to be the first human being who survived the burning-in of his visions into the cooling volcanic material.

As it is generally known, approximately 2.500 years ago the Greek philosopher and physician Empedokles went a step too far - along with lava, vision, physis and one of his bronze sandals he deliberately conflated into a sculpture which is shrouded in myth and will molder longer than the volcano itself; Empedokles (per)formed Mount Etna to his urn.

However, Bucher has been returning once and again from the Etna for the past 30 years, so that, apart from numerous works of combined materials (e.g. lava, bronze and acrylic), several films and catalogues emerged. At that time Bucher created the unknown, that is to say, the until that date not attempted effort of modeling a sculpture out of the dewiest planetary material. Despite protective clothing, working next to a flow of lava remains to be an incalculable risk. Coping with such an experience in border areas of physis and psyche, demands a willpower which exceptional features call for a metaphysical explanation.

It is understandable that he does not trust to chance any longer, and it is also typical that the artist therefore sees himself as the trigger for Etna's eruption. But that Peter C.D. Minzlaff, author of the here reviewed book THINK LAVA ART - ANDRÉ BUCHER From Lava Stream to Stream of Conciousness, published in 2005, presents Bucher's work as a vaudeville number, keeps degrading the most interesting aspects of volcanic and artistic enrichment in Bucher's work. In Minzlaff's own words:

Sometimes André Bucher says he feels like a grand wizard of lava magic, which he sees as a way of raising human consciousness.p.680

In his metaphysical art discourse, Minzlaff defaces Bucher's work, sliding into a meaningless artpalava, repeatedly assuming the right to teach all people, who have a different understanding of art, what good art and art criticism actually are, and that Bucher is, of course, the greatest artist of the universe - in Minzlaff's own words:

André Bucher's sculptures are forerunners of world art because they can be "read" not just by tiny elite but all members of the information society. p.646

Unlike much of art being produced today, only work on the cosmic level, like André Bucher's, will become a part of the new world culture. p.651

In principle Bucher distinguishes himself by a continuous exploratory urge, by interdisciplinary exchanges, experiments and speculations. From the art-historical perspective, no-one interested in volcanoes and art will be able to avoid a closer examination of his works and views.

It is regrettable that more than 150 work photographs, except the covers on the inside and on the outside, are printed black-and-white and, above all, that in contrast to the book from 1984 place and time of their origin are not given. Consequently, it is not clear which sculptures originate directly from the studio phase on Mount Etna and which were completed in Swiss homework. Apparently, Minzlaff thought the following comment more important:

The artist is also convinced that more and more art institutions are buying lava art with the intention of making this "art of the third kind" more easily available to the general public. Bucher's sculpture may be expensive, but it is an investment even in the more prosaic use of the word - the quotation systems used by certain art consultants show that it holds its own on the market. p.693f

It is urgently essential to sensitize art and criticism for the contemporary examination of volcanisms, and surely we will soon hear qualified, scientific statements about Bucher's hypothesis that the frequency of lava approximately equals the frequency of the brain. But so far we can only be astonished about the possible scope of human neuro-vividness - in Minzlaff's own words:

Since André Bucher discovered lava as his "core competency", he has stuck with it. He has also largely been spared misinterpretation by critics since his position is rather like that of a fixed star. p. 653

Further examples of photos and texts are available under

Author: Karawahn
Translation: Theresia Fasinski

working situation of Bucher on Etna
(no date)

Miroir de méditation
1976 - Lava and Bronze
diameter 40cm

Book Cover

images 1 to 3 are taken out of the book Sylvio Acatos "ANDRÉ BUCHER - Feuer und Lava
144 pages, many pictures - german/english/french
© ABC Verlag Zürich - 1984

image 4 und all quotations are taken out of the book of Peter C. D. Minzlaff
THINK LAVA ART - ANDRÉ BUCHER - From Lava Stream to Stream of Conciousness
728 pages, ca. 150 pictures bw - german/english/french
© Open 4 Europe, Walchwil/Schweiz - 2005



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