“For its beauty, its scent, and its mysterious form, it has always been highly valued, and because of its color, it is the ancient symbol of love,” says the Lexikon der Symbole about the rose. Enough reason for the artist Aribert von Ostrowski to install his work of art for Petuelpark at the rose pergola. Three horizontal, matte, frosted glass surfaces feature words or fragments of text supplemented by images of animals and plants. It unmistakably tells the viewer of this work to “tell the story yourself,” even though the accompanying visual fragments provide no clear narrative structure. On the first pane of glass, six owls are grouped around an invisible center, flanked by spruce trees; on the middle pane, a goshawk and a fir tree can be seen, along with two more goshawks in a nosedive; to the right the motif of the owl and spruces is repeated.
For more than twenty years Aribert von Ostrowski has been dealing with the relationship between words and pictures, and he works with text fragments as well as signs and pictograms. In our work, the images of animals are taken from an early nineteenth-century publication, while the typefaces are from the famous Hortus Eystettensis by the Nuremberg apothecary Basilius Besler. This compendium, published in 1613 at the behest of the Bishop of Eichstätt, can be considered the most modern book of plants of its time; it symbolizes humankind’s desire to create order in nature, to master it, or at least to comprehend it.
Ostrowski’s work, however, vehemently excludes this desire for understanding. Text and image are arranged as equals, but they do not complement or interpret each other. The viewer and the site are confronted with fragmentary references to human cultural history of the past. The artist asks the viewer a question but at the same time refuses to provide an answer, because, as Ostrowski says, “Tell the story yourself.”