The Source of the Danube has moved! An installation for the young Danube by Michael von Brentano

14.07.2013 – 18.01.2015, Mirror Hall

At the heart of much of Michael von Brentano's works is the way we see and understand nature. Do we perceive a landscape as it is or as we imagine it to be? Preparing his installation on the source of the Danube, the artist was thus particularly intrigued by the myths surrounding the fabled source of the river. ‘What really counts and what is important to me,' he explains in conversation, ‘is that Emperor Tiberius declared the spring rising close to the present-day church of Saint John the Baptist as the source of the Danube. This allows us to conceptualise the origin of a river as imposing and historically important as the Danube.

The final work, however, draws on yet another myth that von Bretano came across in his preparatory reading. According to this myth, there is a farmhouse in the Black Forest whose roof acts as a watershed. Rain running down one side ends up in the Rhine, while the runoff on other side flows into the Danube. ‘The story of the raindrops struck me as so poetic that I just had to pick up on it. There is a long tradition of representing the major rivers as female figures. I wanted to find a new allegory. My Danube will be a female dancer,' the artist reveals.

Two films are projected onto an oval on the floor of Museum Biedermann's darkened hall of mirrors. They show a bird's eye view of a water droplet becoming rain and then a dancer gliding in and out of the image in circling movements. The second film presents the same scene, synchronous but left-right inverted, so that each movement in and out of the image is mirrored by its exact opposite.

The two projections are complemented by a large funnel-shaped wooden object painted in a light grey and containing a water basin and a photograph. ‘Visitors looking into the funnel will see the spring, and, who knows, perhaps they can throw in a coin and hear it make splash as it hits the water,' he says with a smile.

For about two years visitors can enjoy a highly poetic installation that allows them to experience the source of the Danube as a unique artistic project in the Museum Biedermann hall of mirrors.

View video The Source of the Danube has moved! An installation for the young Danube by Michael von Brentano

The project is supported by the Sparkasse Schwarzwald Baar and the city of Donaueschingen: