Today is marksmen’s festival (German and Swiss tradition; festivity, featuring a target shooting competition). Another one, probably the last of those all weekend festivities, following the four-quarter-time.
Since seven o’clock in the morning, ceremonies are being held according to protocol: Main street is walked in rows of two, accompanied by drum rolls, then the clippety-clopping of hooves announces weighty guests in their carriage.
I’ve been in Schöppingen for a good three months now. The sculptor’s studio is located on this very main street. Looking through the upper window from my sleeping gallery, I can see feathers on three-pointed hats rocking, dip into the bell of the tuba.
The gate to the courtyard of the artists’ village is always open. People walking their dogs look straight ahead as they cross the grounds past the window fronts of our studios. I have often invited residents of the small town or the surrounding villages to a spontaneous visit. Of course, hairdressers and their clientele were among those invited. The hair of one or another is surely among the masses piling up around me.
So far, no one ever crossed the doorstep. Until today: within 90 minutes three women dared moving beyond boundaries.
The first was in an acutely desperate condition: Bicycle tour, picnic, her need to go to the bathroom was urgent and not to be delayed. “Of course,” I said and showed her the way through the buildup of hair bags.
Probably still indulging in relief, she had not yet appeared again, when a second lady showed up on my doorstep. Same concern. To me, the color of that lady’s hair – probably chestnut brown – is too brown for her age, what’s more, the cut condemns her hair – about five inches longer than shoulder length – to hang like a frustrated suicide collective, which is boring.
Due to repeated requests, my welcoming neighbors made their toilets available too, to visitors under pressure. The first lady disappeared ad hoc, dematerialized like a spook, when I corrected her perception and kindly enlightened her that the material surrounding me would not be animal hair, but almost three hundred kilos of human hair. Human hair, its fuzz covering everything, even the floor of the toilet.
The third needy person crossed the doorstep without hesitation, showing an almost resolute attitude, when asking where she had landed. I asked back, if she was familiar with the meaning of an artist’s workshop. She then asked for some understanding: “Bicycle tour, picnic, the marksmen’s festival and no bathroom!” I countered: “Human hair.”
Her suffering was overwhelming, she stepped through the plastic curtain, disappeared into the bathroom. Humbly, she walked away. “Very impressive,” she murmured when making an exit.
None of the three really thanked me. They may have been too shocked by the silence of the hair.
In the early evening, my neighbor Dohi and I forgivingly joined the procession of the celebrating people – as a return visit, so to speak.
The oompah band intoned the Steigerlied. Heated faces glowing in the evening light with the German miners’ greeting: ‘Glück auf!”