Homo Sapiens = Tenants
Jheri St. James
There are 193 living species of monkeys and apes. 192 of them are
covered with hair. The exception is a naked ape, self-named Homo Sapiens.
The Principality of Liechtenstein (“Bright Stone”) is a doubly landlocked alpine country in Central Europe, bordered by Switzerland west and south, and Austria east. Covering an area about 61.7 miles, and an estimated population of 35,000, Vaduz is the name of the capital city. By measure of GDP per capita, Liechtenstein is the smallest yet richest GDP per capita German-speaking country in the world, and the only country to lie entirely within the Alps.
Vaduz castle, home to the Prince of Liechtenstein. Paul Trummer/Getty Images)
Man is the only creature that consumes without producing.
For centuries this territory, geographically removed from European strategic interests, had little impact on European history. The Liechtenstein dynasty, from which the principality takes its name, comes from Castle Liechtenstein in Lower Austria, which the family possessed from 1140 until the 13th century, and from 1807 onward.
Through the centuries the dynasty acquired vast tracts of land, predominantly in Moravia, Lower Austria, Silesia and Styria. In 1719, Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, decreed that Vaduz, Schellenberg and Liechtenstein were united and elevated the newly formed territory to the dignity of principality, named in honor of Anton Florian of Liechtenstein.
Then, as a result of the Napoleonic Wars, by 1806 the Holy Roman Empire came under the control of French Emperor Napoleon I, who dissolved the empire. Imperial, legal and political mechanisms changed, but its prince remained sovereign lord.
This tiny principality got involved in World War I, resulting in customs and monetary union with Switzerland because of economic devastation, also causing the disbanding of the Liechtenstein army in 1868.
During World War II, Liechtenstein remained officially neutral, but at the close of the conflict, Czechoslovakia and Poland took all of the Liechtenstein dynasty’s hereditary lands and possessions in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia, 618 sq. mi. of agricultural and forestland and several family castles and palaces.
In dire financial straits following the war, the Liechtenstein dynasty often resorted to selling family artistic treasures including the “Ginevra de’ Benci” by Leonardo da Vinci, purchased by the National Gallery of Art in 1967. Prosperity returned during the following decades and today the Prince of Liechtenstein is the world’s sixth wealthiest leader with an estimated wealth of five billion dollars. The country’s population enjoys one of the world’s highest standards of living.
Man, as we know him, is a poor creature; but he is halfway between an ape and a god and he is traveling in the right direction.
Dean William R. Inge
Liechtenstein Museum of Art: “Arte Povera”
From the beginning, those responsible for Liechtenstein Art Museum decided that the works displayed in their exhibition rooms would not be confined to established artists. Their primary concern is to create new perspectives by exhibiting not only new and, for the Liechtenstein public, sometimes still unknown artists and their work, but also contemporary artistic trends and concepts. There is an especially strong emphasis here on the concept of “Arte Povera” (“art by simple means”), a movement among visual artists from Rome and northern Italy in the second half of the 1960s.
The most important public collection of Arte Povera work is to be found at Liechtenstein Art Museum. The best-known work of these artists, who sought to decrease the distance between work and viewer, bridge the gap between art and life and broaden people’s perception by using as artworthy materials everyday objects generally considered worthless. Alighiero Boetti (1940–1994), Marisa Merz (1931) and Jannis Kounellis (1936) are well known names in this genre.
The commemorative stamps above were designed by Ewald Frick and depict first Boetti’s “Normale e anormale,” an embroidery commissioned by the artist from Afghan women in which the letters of Normale e anormale are distributed over a grid pattern composed of rectangles. The second stamp shows Merz’s “Testa,” a head crudely modeled from clay, plaster and modeling compound and then painted. Finally, the third stamp shows an object by the Greek artist Kounellis fabricated from steel, coal and wire.
I believe I've found the missing link between
animal and civilized man. It is us.
The Collection of Soil
Claudio of Schaan, Liechtenstein, wrote, “I would love to participate in your fantastic project. Please let me know what I can do.” He then collected the dirt in that country for the project. It came from the “Schlosswiese” in Vaduz, “next to the castle from our monarch.
“Vaduz Castle (German: Schloss Vaduz) is the palace and official residence of the Prince of Liechtenstein. The castle gave its name to the town of Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein, which it overlooks from an adjacent hilltop. At the Schlosswiese begins every year the official part of the national holiday . . . Liechtenstein does not only export false teeth, but also steering systems fo all Skodas, Fords, etc. It is furthermore well known for Hilti (drilling machines). In general, Liechtenstein is a lively industrial location which generates almost 50% of its GDP through its industrial sector. . . . Liechtenstein did not get involved in World War I. Before World War One, Liechtenstein declared for the first time neutrality . . . Renting Liechtenstein was a marketing attempt by a private business. It wasn’t officially approved by our government. It is not possible for anyone to rent the country. Kind regards, Claudio”
From examining the file, Claudio was evidently the last of three potential collectors. Here is a postcard sent by Kerstin and Family, which depicts the best known feature of this country—castles!
Our collector was referring to the current rumor that . . . “Executives with cash to burn traditionally hire luxury yachts, secluded villas or expensive hotel suites to impress clients. Now they can take corporate hospitality to a new level by hiring an entire country, albeit a small one. The principality of Liechtenstein has decided to make itself available to private clients, from $70,000 (£43,000) a night, complete with customized street signs and temporary currency. It's a big step for the country best known for its tax-haven status and exporting false teeth.
“It seems that Liechtenstein has awakened to the marketing opportunities of their mountainous landscape. The price tag includes accommodation for 150 people, although the 35,000 inhabitants would remain. Any personal touches, such as an individual logo created out of candle wax or a customized medieval procession, come at an extra, undisclosed cost.
Upon arrival in Liechtenstein, visitors will be presented with the symbolic key to the state, followed by wine tasting at the estate of the head of state, Prince Hans-Adam II. Other options include tobogganing, fireworks and horse-drawn carriage rides through the capital Vaduz. Visitors could also try cross-country skiing, snowboarding and snowshoe hiking to explore the picturesque landscape. Despite all these attractions, Liechtenstein has yet to be rented out – although a couple recently came close to hiring it for their wedding until the marriage was called off.” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/15/liechtenstein-hire-rental-scheme)
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“According to Mayan and Hopi Indian prophecies, as well as many other sources, humanity is in the process of evolving beyond Homo sapiens (Latin for ‘earthly being, capable of discerning’). Psychiatrist and researcher David Hawkins calls this new species Homo spiritus, ‘the awakened man who has bridged the evolutionary leap from physical to spiritual, from form to nonform, and from linear to nonlinear.’ Anthropologist and shaman Alberto Villoldo describes it as Homo luminous, beings aware of the divine light within and comprising all of creation. Astrologer and Mayan calendar researcher Barbara Hand Clow identifies the new human as Homo pacem, a species focused on peace, while mystic Michael Gurien terms it Homo infinens, the ‘unlimited human . . . the evolutionary energy of the universe, not separate from animals or plants or the air we breathe, but part and parcel of it.’ The speed at which this unprecedented evolutionary leap is occurring is just as extraordinary as its magnitude; instead of taking place over millennia, this astounding transition is happening for many in one lifetime.” (Stephanie Austin, The Mountain Astrologer, Aug/Sept 2011)
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Many people believe they are attracted by God,
or by Nature when they are only repelled by Man.
Dean William R. Inge
Once survival is assured, human beings often find they have time to devote to pursuits of the imagination. Offering one’s country for rent is pretty imaginative. Art is totally imaginative. And these creative endeavors are transitory point in the evolution of mankind. Wouldn’t it be lovely if mankind in Liechtenstein, the smallest, richest country on earth—ironic home of Arte Povera--were the template for the evolution of homo sapiens?
What if we all rightly saw ourselves as tenants, renters of not only Liechtenstein but of the totality of our Great Mother Earth? Our lives would look much different. After the long desperate history of death and destruction in the name of real estate that hampers progress in all the countries of the world, how refreshing to realize we are all only temporary residents.
Thanks to Claudio for his completion of this collection process. The soil of Liechtenstein joins the others in the jars on the wall of flags and jars in Gary Simpson’s studio. Common Ground 191 itself may be the forerunner of homo infinens! The word for peace in Liechtenstein is “der friede.”
Men are cruel, but man is kind.
- Rabindranath Tagore
(At right, Prince Joseph Wenzel I von Liechtenstein)