Priber (2016)


Weimer, Leipzig, and Zittau, Germany

Tape Art Crew: Emily Bryant, Michael Townsend

One of a series of small installations featuring the German utopic thinker, Christian Gottlieb Priber. In 1735 Priber left his successful law practice, his wife and his four children to travel from Germany to the New World to start utopia. 

In the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee he found the Cherokee. Living with the Cherokee he saw the foundations for the utopic society he wished to create: free love, equality of genders, shared communal land.

Ultimately he was captured by the Brittish for assisting the Cherokee resist Brittish opression. He died in prison. None of his writings (including his book, Kingdom Paradise) survived.

The installation above was at the AAA Gallery in Weimer, Germany, which we transformed into a section of the Unicoi Trail in Tennessee. Over a ton of soil covers the floor and the tape drawings on the walls are of local foliage.

A plaster cast of Priber stands amidst a sea of deer carcasses that represent the deer skin trade that drove the Cherokee to hunt deer to almost extinction to repay the Brittish. He holds a glowing fawn to represent that despite watching his beloved Cherokee be decimated by smallpox and economically opressed by the Brittish, he always retained his utopic optimism.

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