“I wanted to integrate China's cultural traditions.”
“I got a call. And all at once the possibility had arisen for me to realize a grand project in China. I had never been to China and even though I had no idea whatsoever as to how all this would happen, what would be waiting for me, I knew for sure: Let’s do it!”, this is how Michael Hammers describes the feelings he had before making his way to China.
“From the very beginning it was clear that it should be Chinese companies doing the work,” asserts Michael. “It was my wish from the get-go to be able to work directly with these companies so that I wouldn’t be creating something to being imitated. I wanted to integrate China’s cultural traditions by using the knowledge and the skills of it’s craftsmen to make my vision reality, I wanted them to working with me together.”
Without a doubt, Michael Hammers is experienced and has been tremendously successful in realizing spectacular and large-scale artistic projects, he also just has this amazing gift for winning people over to achieve his goals, all over the world.
Now would it, could it work in China, too?
Michael says: “… the greatest gift for me is to work with people. I respect everyone just as they are. And I know I will learn from them and I really want to. Each person is unique. 'The Chinese’ does not exist just as there is no 'the German’ or 'the American’. Of course there are cultural differences, and there are definitely barriers; first and foremost for me was the language in China. China is one of a kind. The only thing I am able to do is just to be like I always am and to approach everyone with sincerity in my heart.”
The crystals unfold from clouds of color to purity
Michael Hammers’ Crystal Wall in the World Financial Center Beijing is comprised of a total of 1200 “crystals”, made up of the most diverse grades of glass. Half of his “crystals” are not pure.“ As it happens in nature, in real life” he says, “perfection emerges from imperfection” and so the walls unfold from clouds of color, streaked with golden strands to be that perfect purity and brilliance of the crystals at the corners.
“The first attempts we made together of acting with colors and gilding showed me with just how much attention, sensitivity and dedication the people were working for me. I went home and based on my experience I drew up sketches which were to become the templates for a free artistic transformation. The next working session followed, and it was soon clear to me that even with all my words, sketches and plans I wouldn´t be able to get across my real message: Look at the big picture! See the vision and do have the courage to being creative yourself.”
Michael Hammers explains here that copying and working in a detailed manner must always be striven for, because it is only by working freely that each task can be given the freshness it needs.
In order to break down cultural barriers, you have to become familiar with the other culture. You have to want to learn and understand. The German word “Kultur” for example stems from the Latin word “colere”: to cultivate, to till the land, to make it habitable. The Chinese “wen hua” is related to the use of the term of the character “wen” and therefore bears relation to literature and intellectuality. And even the more poorly educated in China master the art of citing.
Freely realizing a grand idea is just as grand itself.
Michael Hammers wrote a poem and found in Ni Lingling the one who would make it into a Chinese poem for him:
“I worked hard to being able to recite my poem in Chinese. On my next trip to the glass factory, I again had new sketches and templates with me.
I worked with the leading artisan for three more days, once again talking and explaining a lot and I got really confident about the results. On the day I was to leave, I recited my poem. I know my pronunciation was terrible. But the people understood me anyway.
And what then suddenly became crystal-clear was that actively, independently, freely realizing a grand idea is just as grand itself. For me the stained-glass maker Pan is a great artist. And I have learned a lot.”