From 1997 to 2003 the German artist Hannsjörg Voth lived in the southern desert of Morocco where he designed, self-funded and built several land-art works. The most prominent is the “City of Orion”, a monumental piece which synthetize the artist’s interest in incorporating the symbolic and the mythical dimension in his production. Specifically, this work establishes a link with the history of human will to build monuments to connect the Sky with the Earth.
Orion is a constellation located in the celestial equator and visible across the world. It is one of the most recognizable constellations in the night sky and is made by seven stars. Hannsjörg Voth’s “City of Orion” is composed by seven observation towers of stamped clay representing each one of the Orion stars. Their arrangement in plan follows the celestial location and their height amounts to approximately 15-16 meters while their dimensions in width and depth are derived by the brightness and the extent of the corresponding stars. The towers-observatories are provided with exterior stairs which lead on an alcove inside each one and are connected one with the other by a wall.
The precise location of this work (at the coordinates 31 degrees north and 5 degrees west) is chosen on the basis of an astronomical calculation for the orientation of the observation towers. On the 17th of January you can take a tour which lasts one and a half hour, beginning at 9 pm on the tower Saiph which is aligned with the star Procyon and then, moving from one tower to the other in a specific order and timing, you can observe the movements of celestial bodies.
Black & white photographs by Ingrid Amslinger
Other images by Tim Cullis
Drawings by HannsJörg Voth
HannsJörg Voth’s site (in German only)