When I started doing site-specific works and wall paintings, they didn’t come out of the wall-painting tradition. They were more around dealing with space because another interest of mine was architecture, which from a young age I was obsessed with due to its relationship with space.
I was also really obsessed with maps. I still love maps, and whenever I’m a bit down, or sometimes when I’m at home, I take out an atlas and look at maps. I found the shapes of cities amazing. If you look at an architect’s plan, you start to visualise what it will turn out like and that I find is the same with a map.
When I think about a country, I will often look at a map of it and then find three hours later I’m still studying it. Maps have an abstract quality. I think this is the same with dance. I think I just like the quality of a movement. I mean when you raise your arm or raise your leg or you just move, it always creates a shape.
Noelle Collins: There’s a kind of crossover with topography and cartography where you’re mapping out those undulations of peaks and mountains.
Lothar Götz: Yes, I think when you look at the map, something happens in your brain. I mean if looking at a red field marking a big city, I immediately imagine the city. Brown is often used for desert and green for forest. A map is made up of colours, but they mean something and open something in your mind.
For me, paintings do this and when I finally ended up studying Fine Art and started painting, I tried to bring in this element. The wall paintings were playing around with space — altering space. Some of the early works only had one colour in a room or were quite minimal. But they were not minimal because I was interested in minimalism, they were minimal because the only thing I wanted to highlight was the space.
I didn’t want to paint the painting into the space, it was about working with the space and making it so if something enters it becomes a bit like a performance.
I think these theatrical elements are important for my work when I make decisions. With Towner’s building I always thought that the work was a little bit like dressing up a giant for something, which then stands in the middle of Eastbourne so that, in the end, the whole town of Eastbourne becomes the gallery.
At Towner the site-specific wall painting is so big, which is great as it means someone can get close to a colour and then doesn’t see anything else. When you pass the colours, I think they’re just big enough that you physically feel the colour and the sequence of them.
I believe that with certain site-specific works, you can’t just see them with your eyes, but you feel them with your body. You see them from your back. I sometimes say that you must be able to see your work with your knee and your hip and your shoulder.
Where there isn’t an image, such as with a performance or an interactive work, you often approach a work differently. If the result is an image, you look at something and you use your eyes to interact. Something I found amazing about the reactions from people to the Towner work was that they did somehow prove that most people react quite physically and from different angles to the colour. I think this is mainly possible because it’s not an image. I think that people react to the work in a specific way, or very strongly, because it’s becoming something else. It’s becoming part of the fabric of the town.