Change and the art of Helmut Lang

Why does a successful and influential designer suddenly sell his business and abandon the fashion industry?

What drives him to seek solitude and embrace the vibrant silence of the earth?

In his presumable search for the self, where does he look? To which horizon?

His art installation presented in 2008 in Hanover, Germany and Paris is entitled "Alles Gleich Schwer" or "Everything Equally Difficult" ("Equal Weight"?)

These first several images take different views of his work entitled Arbor, 2007.

"Arbor" means several things: a shady place formed by trees or shrubs or often by vines growing on latticework, the main shaft or axle of a machine which transmits mechanical force to other moving parts, or simply: a tree.

The installation piece does look like the main shaft of an axle, but it can also appear as the pin of a compass, pointing somewhere, navigating viewers.

The use of materials tells of the urgency and simplicity of a single message.

Guiding the lost? Reducing ideas to their bare physical minimum?

Focus on the materials on show

Photographer Juergen Teller presents snapshots from the designer's shows - on the runway and backstage

Three, 2008, made of mahogany and tar, shows what appears like three decapitated eagles, not unlike the damaged statue of the Greek goddess Nike at the Louvre.

They may stand for pure or suspended flight, or spurned authority, as the eagle is the bird of Zeus in Greek and Roman mythologies.

There is something haunting about it. It reeks of power made effete.

Or does it speak more of genesis?

Lang produced this series of pieces called Surrogate Skin, numbered separately.

It is a study in texture, thickness, and transparency.

They remind you not just of soil, sand, and minerals, but also of peel and bandages. Scars?

A quick overview across the pieces of the installation

Life forms, 2008

Are these germination beds?

Setting up of the installation

Untitled, 2008

Seance de Travail

This seems a jump from materials to the spirit.

A broken disco ball: Next Ever After, 2007. What do wrecked illusions reflect?

Is Helmut Lang healing from wounds? Redefining his direction in life?

Amidst the clamor of the fashion world for his return, he bides his time and sinks his hands in the thick fabric of memory and the elements.

Waves can wash away old priorities. What is it that glitters for him?

Images from, absolut insert in Fantastic Man No. 8 Fall/Winter 2008, Wallpaper 115 October 2008, and Arena Homme Plus 30: Hard Times Winter 2008/Spring 2009