Then she commissioned me to create a new perfect state, a Free Republic.
Jerry Frantz about the foundation of République Libre de Clairefontaine
Mr. W, ardent patriot with tight spats, gray hair and just as much spirit, sitting at his regulars’ table, was loudly ranting about Countess Ermesinde of Luxembourg. Countess Ermesinde ruled the counties of Luxembourg and Namur in the 12th century. She was a very progressive regent for her time and had a significant influence on the further development of Luxembourg into a politically independent and eminently important country for Europe.
Not so long ago, the “founder” of Europe, Robert Schuman was born in Luxembourg. Through these and other politically highly groundbreaking events, which we lack the necessary space to list here al, Luxembourg can certainly be considered as the country of invention of Europe. Now, the Luxembourgers are in principle a relatively unwarlike people, and as a result of this, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has lost some of its geographical size in the course of history, due to unfortunate circumstances. The patriotic annoyance of Mr. W is to be blamed on such a circumstance (border shift). Our good Countess Ermesinde has found her last resting place in a small chapel in the beautiful village of Clairefontaine, which, due to such a border shift, now lies in the state of Belgium, 2 kilometers next to Luxembourg. Mr. W’s – rather suffering, patriotically drenched – suggestion was, one would have to reclaim this piece of land from the Belgians, so that the countess would lie again in native soil!
By this unintentionally humorous demand – I had followed Mr. W’s views standing at the bar, interrupted by frequent drinking breaks and new orders – my interest in the reign of Countess Ermesinde was aroused. During a following visit of her grave site in Clairefontaine an apparition overtook me out of the blue!
But first a small explanation about the origin of the small place Clairefontaine: When Ermesinde stayed at that time in this place, the holy virgin Mary appeared to her and instructed her to found a monastery consecrated to her, the holy virgin, at exactly this place. Which our Countess Ermesinde did with great enthusiasm, as befits a pious ruler. So, in this very historical place, I also experienced an apparition! Yes, I know, apparitions are old-fashioned, unbelievable, nowadays very rare etc.. This is perhaps only because the “holy apparitionists” have become lazier, or a large part of them are retired. So, it was not the Holy Virgin, but the Countess Ermesinde!
Overwhelmed, I listened to her words. She spoke with great regret of foolish patriots, who even centuries later still have not understood anything, of overambitious two-faced politicians, corrupt despots, unnecessary kings and emperors. Then she commissioned me to create a new perfect state, a Free Republic. It was to be in her memory and for the good of society, and the name of this state was to be: Free Republic of Clairefontaine.
- * 1955 in Esch an der Alzette, Luxembourg
- Studied 1976-1981 at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts Bruxelles
- Lives in Pratz, Luxembourg
- 2008: Solo exhibition Post-Incunables at the Centre d’Art