The work Judith Pfaeltzer, like so many of her sculptures, is like an artefact from a lost civilization or an archaeological relic, as a journalist once described it. A sacred symbol from prehistoric times, weathered by time and the elements. And yet it is not just that, although Judith Pfaeltzer leaves the viewer the freedom to see that in it.
She herself describes her sculptures as landscapes. ‘The funny thing is, over the years I have always wanted to do more with the surroundings, the setting. What was in the foreground kept needing to be less. Because the surroundings had a much greater influence on that one thing. You can see in my later photographs, too, that it’s always the setting that dictates the whole thing. Then I thought, I want to make more settings … Because when I drive through a landscape, what do I see? Why does it fascinate me or leave me cold? And, can I make that?’ By taking the lines of the landscape as her point of departure, perhaps even as the structure, and manipulating it, Judith Pfaeltzer creates new forms. This manipulation might perhaps involve tilting the horizontals—something that for many people has associations with awkward positions and uncomfortable experiences, as if you’re literally on a sloping surface. But to her this is a fantastic feeling. ‘Do you ever go to the beach? Sometimes you can lie on the beach, in the sand, and then you suddenly see the edge of the sea as vertical, with waves that suddenly start working like great undulating folds. Disorienting and superb. Well, that wonderful feeling, that sensation … if you can hang on to that, and keep it while you’re working, then a sculpture can emerge.’
Frits Scholten Senior Curator of Sculpture Rijksmuseum