Compass in Hand: Selections from The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection

Marcel Odenbach. You Can't See the Forest for the Trees. 2003

Cut-and-pasted printed paper, cut-and-pasted colored paper, ink, and pencil on two pieces of paper, 85 3/4 x 117 3/4" (217.8 x 299.1 cm). The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection Gift. © 2023 Marcel Odenbach / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Germany

Artist, Marcel Odenbach: My name is Marcel Odenbach, and you are looking at a piece which one I did called You Can't See The Forest For The Trees.

I'm always working with two different levels in my video works, and also in my paper works. That means I’m very interested in the surface, and then, when you go closer to the image, then you can discover little details.

Most of the leaves are faces: of people that were maybe important in society, or in history, or they were very important for me personally. So, why I use this faces is because, sometimes when you go as a kid, when it's starting to get dark, into the woods, then suddenly you discover ghosts and faces around you.

On the other hand, the birch wood is a symbol for the east, and if you go to many concentration camps, which are mainly built in the east countries like Poland, for example, the birch is always the surrounded tree in concentration camps. So the birch wood has a very German ... symbolism, for me being born after the Second World War.

When I was a kid, I was always into build with paper, and collecting things, and putting them together, and discovering certain new kind of ways of giving things a meaning. I was always the guy who was outside in the nature and collecting. And so I think this still has something to do with my fascination of books and images. And then of course, it's neurotic, and I am a neurotic person. (Laughs)

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