about the exhibition
The film triptych Three Windows is the result of a long-year collaboration of two filmmakers – the Swiss Nicholas Humbert and the German Werner Penzel – with the American poet Robert Lax. Three different films are shown paralelly on three screens/windows, interlinked into one audio-visual, black and white composition. The theme is the inner world of Robert Lax who lived more than twenty-five years on the Greek island of Pathmos in deliberately chosen solitude while being at the same time in vivid contact with the world.
Robert Lax, often called the grand old man of the generation of poets of classic Modernism, died in September last year at the age of eighty-five. His name has been connected with the New York artists of Minimalism, such as Ad Reinhardt, and the religious philosopher Thomas Merton. They all had a profound influence on the beat generation poets around Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. The artistic concept of reduction of the language, where a pause plays a role equal to a pronounced word, is, in the case of Robert Lax, related to the principles underlying the music compositions of John Cage. The close relationship of both artists to Eastern art and philosophy comes not by chance. With Robert Lax, who was born to Jewish parents of Austrian origin, this relationship conjoins with his conversion to Catholicism. The journey that he chose, particularly in the last twenty-five years of his life, is an extremely precious contemporary interpretation of the mediaeval way of spiritual life. The poet was able to apply the Minimalist principles of his work on his entire way of life and existence. Secluded from the distracting surface of the everyday and its unnecessarily plentiful variety, he lived a rich spiritual life in a place with a significant historical background and memory. The authors of the film triptych captured, on the background of simple everyday situations, the moments when Robert Lax pronounces his poems in a silent voice and drafts their words with a pencil. They did this with the unpretentious, concentrated, purely visual means of black and white film.
The film thus renders the extraordinary and precious possibility of being present at the innermost moments of the poet’s creativity, inviting us to tune in on the very origin of his poems, to witness the moment when they are first pronounced in their authentic context.