The Heidelberg Manifesto
The Underwater Room is a magic space filled with clear water, level with the ground. Defined for the most part by plane colour, and populated, always under the water surface, with compositions of life-size figures or real objects and everyday architectural configurations, it owes its fascination to its inherent detachment a space no-one will ever tread.
The water here is calm, at most gently disturbed, and crystal clear. It remains an ambivalent medium, and in this
The state of mirroring, of refusing the eye access beyond the surface, is given with a shallow angle of vision; on approaching the piece, the veil of reflection disperses that is, when the viewer has the image of the pool at her/his feet and an angle of vision closer to the vertical is possible. Only now can we retrieve something out of the enigma of the concealed room, but momentarily, for unnoticeably the veil closes over again as ones gaze begins to drift.
A no less important physical characteristic of transparent water is its ability to act as an optical body. Objects lying below the surface are perceived foreshortened the more so with the increasing shallowness of ones angle of vision. A vertical view into a basin will let the same objects appear without distortion.
Although the underwater room is a three-dimensional, architectural structure, the mysterious, continually changing appearance of the surface is rather a planar, pictorial phenomenon and is comparable to a membrane mediating between outward and inward. It prompts the wish to be able to penetrate beyond the flickering play of the surface and wrest from it a glance at least, onto the core within.
Wolfgang Robbe: From the statement published alongside the catalogue at the exhibition, Wolfgang Robbe - Unterwasserräume, Heidelberger Kunstverein, 2001.
The Well Manifesto
The Underwater Room is a new type of well.
My wells are still waters, representing the dynamic equili-brium between the inner and outer worlds of experience in balanced relationship to each other. The image of their visible surface changes from one moment to the next.
My wells are not intended to hurl frothing eruptions at the heavens, - they shine all the more brightly the more they appear to be deep and profound.
My wells are magical places
My wells are still. They seek to open up a connection to the greatest part of all that exists; the invisible. Spectacular things can be found in stillness.
My wells do not look like wells. But their clear water is in a continual process of exchange and purification, comparable to an organism doing its work inconspicuously.
My wells are living beings that want to be loved. They must be cared for, just as a flower must be watered or a field must be cultivated. Care is an expression of love, and love is joy, is life. All that does not receive caring attention passes away.
Wolfgang Robbe, 07/2002