Land-art, art inspired by landscape, was not first invented in the 60’s.
When Earth Workers set out to observe signs of early civilization, from earth walls to stones standing apart, from layered walls to the cultural technology of cultivated land, they were drawn to the landscape itself.
An extension of the sculptural concept, “the endless column” (Tirgu Jiu – Romania), is suggested as a possible continuation as seen by Constantin Brancusi and anticipates the concept of landscape as sculpture.
Nevertheless you have to mention, among many others, Bernard Rudofsky and his book “Architecture without Architects,” which talks about shelters far distant from highly civilized cultures – nature and culture, acting in union.
In 1968, Peter Hutchinson wrote: “You may see architecture as symmetrical bricks of burnt earth, which is built up in various natural forms.”
Nowadays artists turn in this direction, derive their inspiration from meteor or volcanic craters as well as dams, burial mounds, aqueducts, banks and fortifications.
Peter Pilz’s sculpture made for the Club an der Grenze is situated in this vast area of art between reflection on nature and comprehension of art.
1967, Claes Oldenburg had a 2 meter deep pit dug by two gravediggers (as well PP hired two professionals for this) in Central Park, which was then filled in again and as “Invisible Sculpture.” It was Oldenburg’s offering to a public Sculpture Festival.
The sculpture of Peter Pilz is entirely visible. Out of the excavated clay loam he rebuilds the negative volume as positive volume. 200 x 200 x80 (centimeters?) are the measurements of this compounded clay, a minimalistic stereometric block of earth, which plays an important role in the classical idea of form, color and composition.
The artist says, that it was particularly difficult to take pictures without the distortion of perspective that through shortened distance between object and motive can hardly be avoided.
Pictures of the underground space were mounted by Pilz in the corners of the bar where they were exhibited as Photo Markers together with a wall of wet claybricks. Robert Smithson called his snapshots of “sites” Photo Markers.
Pictures of sand, pebbles and rubble were taken to their places of origin and he re-photographed them in the landscape: the natural environment framed something artificial – the photograph.
Something opposite happens in the gallery: as by organization of the natural materials in the White Cube the artificial gallery room frames the dislocated nature, the non-site.
Peter Pilz reproduces his earth pit, a piece of designed nature, via photography in the exhibition room and repeats the motive beyond the wall of the interior room.
He plays thereby the conceptual game of land art with its displacements of nature, a copy of nature as image (or film) and the dialectic of the natural and the artificial.
Keeping the present work in mind one could call Peter Pilz an artist, who has developed his forms and instrumentation through his preoccupation with archeology. It is the history of architecture and minimal art.
The iconography of earth holes stretches from earthen villages of loess in China, beyond the hole filled in with white color in the garden of Lawrence Weiner’s studio, to the sit hollows of Walter Pichler.
„The shovel is stronger than the brush“ as was said once in a review of an exhibition.
The example of the sculpture based on a shovel by Peter Pilz hides within itself an element of performance and denies reducing material to its elementary substance, in the spirit of minimal art.
At the heart of PP’s work stands neither a formal concern as in stereometry, nor fundamental questions of economy.
To me the theme seems to be concentration. Concentration on another intensity of focused perception.