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It was a spectacular sight, during the summer of 2002 in the center of Berlin: on a still-deserted building ground, before the backdrop of the shiny skyscrapers at Potsdamer Platz, there stood, unexpectedly, a modest hut made of pinewood and larch shingles. The confrontation couldn’t be more striking: there a monstrous architectural structure of city quarter size, symbol of global capitalism and unrestricted consumerism, with multinational corporations like Daimler-Chrysler and Sony as faceless developers; here a tiny cabin, in its original form knocked together with found and used material by a single man.

Tobias Hauser designed the hut as a replica of the cabin that the philosopher and poet Henry David Thoreau had built for himself in 1845 in the woods outside the small town of Concord, Massachusetts – for just 28 dollars. Ever since, the cabin at Walden Pond has been a romantic symbol for a life close to nature and remote from civilization, just as Thoreau’s book „Walden; or, Life in the Woods“ has become the bible of all dropouts. At the same time, Thoreau, one of the „transcendentalists“ around Ralph Waldo Emerson, was an advocate of „civil disobedience“ who preferred to go to jail rather than paying taxes to a state that accepted slavery. Through this stance he is one of the fathers of all protest movements.

Tobias Hauser is a most political man, too. He developed the idea for „Walden“ after the terrorist attack on the New York World Trade Center and the subsequent war in Afghanistan; as he says, he wanted to revive the original democracy of the American founding fathers, without any trace of fundamentalism. It was no accident that for this he chose Thoreau’s hut, since houses are central for his work: the house as a symbol of the basic human want for shelter. Nature, too, is a constant theme in Hauser’s work, albeit in a stylized, abstract form. The most recent example is a five-meters-tall liberty tree made of aluminium tube, after a sketch by Goethe. Well known as a symbol of the French revolution, the „Tree of Liberty“ goes back to the independence struggle of the American colonies.

For Thoreau the cottage by the lake was not a life’s goal, but an experiment: he abandoned it after two years without regret. Other people took over and finally dismantled it; today there is a replica at Walden Pond. Hauser was not interested in an exact copy, so his hut is empty and cannot be entered. Instead, it is an illustration of the idea that made Thoreau construct his cabin: the necessity to choose one’s very own way. Thoreau: „If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.“

Changing the perspective, we will not see the hut as a comment on the Potsdamer Platz situation, but instead the high-rises as a backdrop that emphasizes the humble character of the cabin. So the little building is able to unfold its effect at other places as well, for instance at the Munich Olympic Parc where Hauser exhibited it in 2003. Today it is located in a private garden in southern Germany. Yet wherever the hut might stand, it is the materialized version of the maxim so popular today: „Don’t dream your life, live your dreams!“. „The mass of men“, Thoreau was convinced, „lead lives of quiet desperation“ – simply because they do not follow the beat of their own drum. The cottage tells us that this is possible indeed, that there are always alternatives for the dominant concepts of society, politics and culture.

For further information on the artist please see his website: Hauser Werke

Walden

2002

Wood, iron (screws)

Dimensions: 10 x 15 x 8 ft

Price: ca. 35.000 Euros, depending on the construction costs

Purchasing Interest

Biography

1959 born in Munich
1979-83 studied at the Art Academy Stuttgart with K.R.H. Sonderborg and Alfred Hrdlicka
1983-84 residence in Vienna, subsequently moved to Berlin
2007-11 teaching position at the Hochschule Burg Giebichenstein, Halle on the Saale

lives and works in Berlin

Solo exhibition

2016 Cette terre est libre, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin
2015 Stars, Galerie Artlantis/Müller, Stuttgart
Punishment of luxury, Fiebach & Minninger Galerie, Köln
2012 Flecken/Stains, Lage, Berlin
2010 Songs in Wood, Fiebach & Minninger Galerie, Köln
Rivers, Galerie Kvant, Berlin
2008 A German House, Zwinger Galerie, Berlin
2006 Bricks in my Wall, Zwinger Galerie, Berlin
2005 Childminder, Forum Kunst, Rottweil
2004 31.8.1939, Zwinger Galerie, Berlin
einsbisneunplusnull, Fiebach, & Minninger Galerie, Köln
2002 Walden, Leipziger Platz, Berlin
2001 Natural causes of death and other reasons, Zwinger Galerie, Berlin
2000 Bois d’œuvre, Kunstverein Ludwigsburg
Hotel Charon, Fiebach & Minninger Galerie, Köln
1999 Land in sun, Zwinger Galerie, Berlin
1997 Hauserwerke, Zwinger Galerie, Berlin
1996 Christian Gögger Galerie, München
Bones, Galerie Fiebach, Minninger, Köln
1995 The hideaway, Zwinger Galerie, Berlin; Galerie Christian Gögger, München 
1994 Predisposition for philosophy of nature, Zwinger Galerie, Berlin
1993 White Headquarter, Pariser Platz, Berlin, with Zwinger and Wewerke galleries, Berlin
Steierischer Herbst, Graz, with Daniel Richter, Juli Susin and Gunter Reski
1992 The class, Galerie H.J. Müller (Artlantis), Stuttgart
Institut für Heuristik, Berlin
1991 Galerie Zwinger, Berlin
Galerie Tanja Grunert, Köln
1990 Kunsthalle St. Gallen, Schweiz
1989 Galerie Tanja Grunert, Köln

Group shows (selection)

2016 Biennale Halberstadt
2015 Sculpture park St. Martin, Österreich
Galerie Artlantis, Stuttgart
Galerie Fiebach & Minninger, Köln
2013 sitzen, gehen, stehen, (f)liegen, Kunstverein K.I.S.S., Schloss Untergröningen
2012 Cabinet of curiosities, Polmozbyt, Szczecin
2011 Good neighbourhood, Studio I, Kunstquartier Bethanien, Berlin
2009 Berlin 89/09 – art between search for traces and utopia, Berlinische Galerie
Showing. An audiotour through Berlin by Karin Sander, Temporäre Kunsthalle, Berlin
2008 Country & Western, Schloss Plüschow
Bridge, Fiebach & Minninger Galerie, Köln
2007 Private/Corporate IV, DaimlerChrysler Contemporary, Berlin
2006 HannahArendtDenkraum, Former Jewish School for Girls, Berlin
Architektur wie sie im Buche steht, Architekturmuseum-Pinakothek der Moderne, München
2005 Patron of the art on paper, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
2003 impark, Contemporary art at Olympiapark Munich
2002 a country lane, Galerie Kerstin Engholm, Wien
1999 The space here is everywhere, Villa Merkel, Esslingen
1998 U-Neues Deutschland – Fin de Siècle, F.M. Schwarz Galerie, Köln
1997 Schöner Wohnen, Galerie Christian Gögger, München
Faktor Arbeit, NGBK Berlin
1994 Collection Ohrt, Forum Stadtpark Graz
Europa ‘94 – Young European art in Munich
1992 Galerie Grunert & Janssen, Köln
1991 Gulliver’s travels, Galerie Sophia Ungers, Köln
1990 Drawings, Galerie Tanja Grunert, Köln
1988 Galerie Tanja Grunert, Köln