Start 5 reading the night sky


Everybody on the planet shares the same night sky, although they see very different things in the same stars. One constellation of stars, for instance, depicts an ostrich for the San bushmen in Africa while depicting an emu for the aborigines of Australia. The Austrian artist Oswald Auer compares these diverging perceptions with a kind of Rorschach test: “The night sky is like a matrix in which the cultural consciousness is embedded and that varies from epoch to epoch and from culture to culture.”

The artist — born in 1970 is Brunico, Italy, and holder of the Georg Eisler Prize and the Theodor Korner Prize, among other awards — has captured the night sky in a series of etchings. To create a striking impression of colour he applies a complex technique that allows him to work mechanically directly on the surface of the metal plate. “It is a very slow, decelerated process, so to speak”, explains Auer. “But an image is always a space where time stands still”.By roughening the surface of the printing block Oswald created a haptic-looking impression of colour, an “impression, like on a piece of velvet”.

His inspiration comes, above all, from a poem by Mayakovski where the poet compares the stars to holes pierced in the sky by lances, through which light floods. This is also how the dots that represent the stars on Oswald’s images resulted, as holes that he bored through the plate. The white paper onto which the image is printed shines through these holes and the space around the image, lending them order and meaning.