GArt always happens in the mind. It puts an end to the world as we knew it, makes its way into our own system and makes its rounds from the belly to the cerebral cortex. It does not matter if it was made by artists who understand themselves or not.
“Enemies and Friends: A Russian Collection of Paranormal Observations” at the Cologne gallery Delmes & Zander shows around 100 snapshots, hand prints, photo collages, Polaroids and drawings from the 1950s to the 2000s, whose meticulous composition is already a work of art: a collection from UFO photographs. Where she comes from is unknown. Only that it was compiled in Russia.
Even if you did it, you do not know – but it is a very aesthetic, driven look, with which, for example, pictures of flying saucers were created. Like ghosts they glide through romantic landscapes or hang stiff in the sky. Sometimes arrows point to them, as if to unshakable proof.
They appear as luminous bodies in naive painting. There are amazingly real-looking photos of naked aliens with bloated bellies on the dissecting table. Images of abstract colorful light phenomena and mysterious shadows that have crept into the home environment. They are enormously inventive images, deliberately manipulated, but composed with dedication and sensitivity. Forgeries whose authors belong to a network that believes in extraterrestrial life.
Unknown Flying Objects – Humbug or Science Fiction?
In this discrepancy lies the tension of the show: Why does anyone create artificial evidence for something that he knows does not exist? Does he believe in what he is faking? Which will be behind it? And why fascinates you to this day, what has sprung from the era of space travel, nuclear power and cold war and yet is obviously considered a hoax?
Fakes – sometimes cobbled together, sometimes refined, but of the highest visual standard – are produced by initiates for initiates. They stir up superstition and conspiracy theories. Even today, UFO images are exchanged and posted. On websites are reports, who saw what when and where.
The whole thing has something of a secret ritual in which the fascination for the inexplicable unites everyone. It is reminiscent of folk art, to which everyone can contribute something. That's what's interesting about UFOs: they're nerd culture, but they're mainstream. Science Fiction captivates everyone and releases fantasies – in some just a bit more than others.
Steven Spielberg's film “A Creepy Encounter of the Third Kind” puts it in a nutshell in 1977: the image of the strangely shaped mountain where the UFO will land sits in the head of the chosen as an atavism, an ancient memory and enigmatic message that they like remotely controlled: The father of the family shapes him out of earth and stones in the living room, a single mother draws him with charcoal. Both see the same inner picture without knowing why.
The Psychology of UFO Enthusiasm
That C.G. Jung has dealt with the subject – as a psychologist with a penchant for Spiritist – is almost obvious. “A Modern Myth: Of Things Seen in the Sky” is a treatise from 1958 that preceded nine years of UFO research based on testimonies and newspaper articles. “There are no meteors, no confusion with fixed stars, no reflections, no cloud configurations, no migratory birds, no balloons, no ball lightning and – last, not least – no drunkenness and fever delirium, nor lies of eyewitnesses”, so the conclusion of the then 82 olds.
Because even technicians and academics, so rationally thinking persons reported on the apparitions, Jung concluded “a psychological component” of the phenomenon. Jung saw in the unconscious an anchoring of archetypes, of universally valid structures of the soul (“archetypes”), which unite all humans in their dreams, myths and fantasies.
On such symbolic powers, he also led back the sighting of UFOs. He applies the dream interpretation to it, is concerned with celestial bodies in historical representations, abstract painting and finally means to be able to trace all this back to the “archetype of the self” – the merger of humans with God. They project their desires and longings outward, manifesting themselves in manifestations that are not materially tangible.
Yearning for the end of the world
In order to understand how powerful and artistic such projections can look, one only has to look at the pictures: in a landscape scene, an egg gives birth to small dots. A cosmic color oval, enlarged as a detail, as if the image were an infographic. On a photo of sailboats you can see two red ghosts outshining the horizon.
The collective sighting of celestial phenomena interpreted Jung as a longing for the end of the world: In view of the nuclear threat men were projecting their fears and hopes for an extraterrestrial force – and already a new myth was born.
It is precisely this visionary energy you can feel in the exhibition, It tells of the obsession that there is something else besides what is. They are filled with thoughts of salvation, fearful and ecstatic at the same time. Creating an imagery in which this will manifests itself is obsessive, paraneligious – and profoundly artistic.
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