During the second wave of COVID-19 in the fall of 2020, anxieties about the unpredictable virus were at a high. In Germany—like most other countries around the world—the effects of the pandemic dominated everyday life to an unprecedented degree. Amidst all the fear and confusion, German photographer Jörg Gläscher channeled his anxieties about the state of the world into something that he could control—his art.
In a forest near Hamburg, Gläscher built an installation of nine colossal deadwood waves, meant to embody “the pure power of nature, the all-destroying force, which brings one of the richest countries in the world to a completely still stand.” He crafted the massive structures by hand, photographing each one individually before he would destroy it and recycle the wooden material to build the next swell. The largest of these stood at almost 13 feet high and 30 feet wide.
Part of a larger diaristic project that Gläscher calls C19, 1-20, The Diary Complex, The Second Wave is number 18 out of 20 pieces, ranging from sculpture to photography, that the artist completed during the pandemic. He has since made his work available in a series of self-published magazines, documenting each installment of his visual diary. Several of the pieces are also accompanied by an artist-written text that serves to distill the overarching theme of the work into written form.
“A wave is a periodic oscillation or one-time disturbance change in the state of a system,” Gläscher writes in the text accompanying The Second Wave. “A perceived object can generate impact in numerous ways. Is it standing still? Has it moved? Nothing is ever as it seems. Are appearances therefore deceptive? No, they are not necessarily deceptive, but they join me on a journey, wash over me, swirl through me, make me anxious, retreat, and then rush towards me all over again.
“Standing up, the second wave rolls over me. It is unique, it was unique. I lift my head, take it by the hand and recognize the vibration and the recurring sensation, and with it the fear disappears.”
Scroll down to see images of The Second Wave. For more of Gläscher’s remarkable work, visit the artist’s website or follow him on Instagram. You can also purchase all four volumes of C19, 1-20, The Diary Complex by visiting his shop.