HR Giger's Passages I-IX

leading from
HR Giger's Art


Passage I (1970)

a) The Passages nightmares
Giger spoke about the Passages painting series, how the first of his corridor pictures were prompted by a series of dreams. In these dreams he usually found himself in a large white room without doors or windows, he would compare the place to being like a stone grave or a tomb and the only way out
lead to an all powerful evil represented by a dark, iron opening barred by a clamp in the form of iron hoop half way along that was basically a large safety pin. The dreams also reveal the place to be a sort of an oven and he would have his arms drawn up.

Passage II
b) Activities in the dream environment
Moreover in passing through this opening he regularly got stuck. And to crown everything,  the exit at the end of this long chimney, where he could see only a faint shimmer of light, would be promptly shut by an unseen force. Then he would be stuck in the tube with his arms pressed tightly by his sides unable to move forwards or backwards and feeling that he was running out of air.  He would always think in the dream "Oh my god, why am I here?" The only way out was to wake up.

Passage IV
c) Decision to paint his dreams
He subsequently painted some of these imaginary passages and then then had been spared this birth trauma. The passages became for him a symbol of growth and dissolution with all the possible stages of pleasure and pain, and continue to have a hold on him. His mother revealed to him that he had a difficult birth and that he didn't want to come out.

d) Influence on Alien
See also H R Giger's Passages i-ix influencing design of Nostromo Corridors and Giger's influence on Ron Cobbs Alien birth Temple

Source quotes
  1. HR Giger: A long time ago I used to have nightmares, they were, I was stuck in a kind of oven with my hands drawn up and I couldn't get any air, and that was probably a dream, which , from my mother... mine was a difficult birth, you see, that's what my mother told me, I didn't want to come out and of course I couldn't get any air and that happened again and again, and then from far away, I would see a light and then it would become dark again, couldn't get any air and so on, and these unpleasant dreams stopped when I began to paint those passages which actually represent that condition. At the time, I didn't notice that at all, but well it's turned out to be true because I haven't had any of those dreams since then. (report from unused conversation with H R Giger for Alien Evolution)
    Passage IV
  2. HR Giger: The strongest thing in my work, I think, is the claustrophobic stuff. I still sometimes have shitty dreams with that in… being inside rooms that are like graves, a stone grave, a tomb. And I always think in the dream, ‘Oh my god, why am I here?’ (He laughs)  Claustrophobic things are terrible. I used to think all that was finished but it’s still here. That’s more important to me than the erotic stuff.” (www.imaginefx.com/) 
  3. Giger: As a boy, I would dream every night that I was in a white room, from which I could only escape from a hole in the cieling. But even when I managed to reach this hole. I was stuck inside the wall and couldn't breathe. I freed myself from these obsessions when I began painting my Passages (Cinefantastique vol9, no 1, p37-39)
    Passage V
  4. Giger: The initial "Passages" paintings were created in 1969 following a series of dreams, I was in a large white room with no windows or doors. The only exit was a dark metal opening in which, to make things worse, was partially obstructed by a safety pin. I usually got stuck when passing through this opening. The exit at the end of a long chimney which could be seen only as a tiny point of light, was, to my misfortune, blocked by an invisible power. Then I found myself stuck as I tried to pass through the pipe, my arms pressed against my body, unable to move forward or backward. At that point I started to lose my breath and the only way out was to wake up. I have since painted some of these dream images in the "Passages" series (Passages I-IX) and as a result have been freed from recurring memories of this particular birth trauma. But the "Passages" which for me symbolize maturity and decay, with all the accompanying stages of pleasure and pain, have not released their hold on me (HR Giger's Retrospective 1964-1984 p34 (From Paasagen ["Passages"] H R Giger 1974))
    Passage VI
  5. Giger: The first of corridor pictures were prompted by a series of dreams. In these I usually found myself in a large white room without doors or windows. the only exit a dark, iron opening barred by an iron hoop half way along.  Moreover in passing through this opening I regularly got stuck. And to crown everything,  the exit at the end of this long chimney, where I could see only a faint shimmer of light, would be promptly shut by an unseen force. Now I was stuck in the tube with my arms pressed by my sides unable to move forwards or backwards and feeling that I was running out of air.  The only way out was to wake up. I subsequently painted some of these imaginary passages (I-IX) and since then had been spared this birth trauma. But the passages became for me a symbol of growth and dissolution in ever possible stage of pleasure and pain, and they had remained with me to this day.(From Giger's Necronomicon English edition, 1991)
    Passage VII (1970)
  6. HR Giger: The first passages paintings resulted from a series of vivid dreams. Most of the time I would find myself in a big white room without any doors and windows, where the only exit leads to an all powerful evil, which was represented by a dark, metal opening obstructed by a metal clamp. I often became firmly stuck when I tried to pass through this opening. To my misfortune, the exit at the end of this long tunnel, which could be spotted as a tiny gleam of light. was promptly locked by an invisible force. Now I would be stuck in the tube with my arms pressed tightly against my body and could not move forward or backwards, and I felt as if I was running out of breath. The only solution was to wake up. I then drew some of these imaginary PASSAGES (I-IX) and since then have been spared the birth nightmare. But the PASSAGES, which have become for me the symbol of Becoming and Passing with all stages of lust and suffering, have not let go of me to this day (Giger's Film Design, p10)
  7.  C J Fifer: I suffer from bad dreams, and use them to create my own art. Of all the night terrors you've had, is there one particular nightmare that has stuck with you .
    HR Giger: There are many. In a lot of cases, recurring dreams eventually led to the creation of some of my most poignant works. I frequently wrote about this in my books, such as the Necronomicon. An exampled of this is the 'Passagen' series of painting of the late 1960s and early 1970s. (Bizarre magazine, 2013 p67)
     
  8. Giger: ... sometimes I have these images, while I was painting the Passage, it was okay, but when I get into unpleasant situations, I suddenly find myself in some kind of masonry in which I get stuck and it's getting hot or I'm sitting outside and I have to get inside... (Through the eyes of Giger, video interview)
    Passage VIII
  9. HR Giger: A dream where I can’t get enough air, that’s frightening. Or the kind of dream where I was stuck in a grave or something like that, that was frightening. But later I developed these passages paintings [Passage I-XXX] and they were very good for that. I got some sort of relief. I got no more bad dreams when I painted these passages. It was helpful.
    Conor Creighton: Does that happen often?
    HR Giger: No, not often, but I did the right thing because at the time these passage dreams were ruining my work. It was the right thing to make me feel better.
    (conorcreighton.wordpress.com/2009/12/08/) & (www.vice.com/)
  10. Giger found inspiration for his art in the night terrors he experienced beginning in his childhood. Painting his dark and disturbing visions provided a kind of self-therapy: (www.cgsociety.org/ 2 May 2013)
    Passage IX (1971/1972)
  11. HR Giger: I don’t have these dreams anymore. Well, maybe I do but I don’t make sketches of them. I draw some of the things I have dreamt. For example, there’s a rather unpleasant dream where I am stuck in a tomb and the only way out is a very narrow passage. There are huge stones and I am totally stuck. I cannot move at all. So terrifying, claustrophobic nightmares. I made some drawings of them, and every time I look at them, it puts me back into that terrible situation. Looking at these pictures bothers me so much, that I don’t look at them anymore. (www.cgsociety.org/ 2 May 2013
  12. Interviewer: Do you get your inspiration from dreams, and does your art work reflect your dreams.
    H R Giger:
    My dreams are usually very realistic, there aren't any figures like the ones in my paintings. But I for example used to have an unpleasant dream, I always tell people the same thing but it happens to be true; a long time ago I used to have nightmares, they were, I was stuck in a kind of oven with my hands drawn up and I couldn't get any air, and that was probably a dream, which, from my mother... mine was a difficult birth, you see, that's what my mother told me, I didn't want to come out and of course I couldn't get any air and that happened again and again, and then from far away, I would see a light and then it would become dark again, couldn't get any air and so on, and these unpleasant dreams stopped when I began to paint those passages which actually represent that condition. At the time, I didn't notice that at all, but well it's turned out to be true because I haven't had any of those dreams since then.
    (report from unused conversation with H R Giger for Alien Evolution) 
  13. Sonic Seducer : Die Bilder, die sie malen, haben sie diese vorher geträumt?

    Sonic Seducer: The pictures that you paint, you have dreamed about this before?

    HR Giger: Nein, meine Traumwelt ist sehr realistisch. Es gibt dort sehr viel bergigen Wald, es ist dort ziemlich warm, es gibt einstöckige Häuser und Gebäude, manchmal mit geheimen Durchgängen. Ich bin dort meistens allein und ganz komisch. Oder ich fahre Auto in einer Gegend, in der ich mich auskenne. Mein Traumreich ist nicht besonders phantastisch. Ich habe früher häufig Träume gehabt, in denen ich in einer engen Röhre steckte und irgendwie keine Luft bekam. Diese Röhre war am Ausgang immer von einer Art Sicherheitsnadel verschlossen. Dieser Traum kehrte in ähnlichen Varianten immer wieder. Nun, meine Mutter hat mir erzählt, daß ich eine sehr schwere Geburt gewesen bin. Die Sicherheitsnadel wird wahrscheinlich die Geburtszange oder etwas ähnliches symbolisieren. Die Geburt muß wohl für mich ein derart schreckliches Erlebnis gewesen sein, das sich in meinem Unterbewußtsein verankert hat und erst im Laufe meines Lebens zum Vorschein kam. Dies war einer der wenigen Träume, die mit in meine Bilder eingeflossen sind. Heute habe ich diesen Traum nicht mehr.

    HR Giger: No, my dream world is very real. There are a lot of mountainous forest, it is quite warm there, there are one-storey houses and buildings, sometimes with secret passages. I am there mostly alone and it's very funny. Or I drive a car in an area in which I am familiar. My dream world is not particularly fantastic. I used to often had dreams in which I was stuck in a narrow tube and somehow could not breathe. This tube was closed at the exit always by a kind of safety pin. This dream came in similar variants repeatedly. Well, my mother told me that I have been a very difficult birth. The safety pin is likely to symbolize the forceps or something similar. The birth must have been such a terrible experience for me, which has been anchored in my subconscious and only in the course of my life came to light. This was one of the few dreams that have been incorporated with in my pictures. Today I no longer have that dream.

    Sonic Seducer: Als Embryo wächst man im Mutterleib heran und ist mit seiner Mutter praktisch bis kurz nach der Geburt als Säugling verwachsen. In ihren Bildern sind fast immer alle Gestalten, Symbole und Gegenstände direkt mit einander verwachsen und stellen ein gesamtes, organisches Gebilde oder sogar eine Einheit dar. Glauben sie, daß Malen eine Art Therapie für dieses prägnante Schreckenserlebnis in frühester Jugend gewesen sein könnte, mit dem sie immer wieder in ihren Träumen konfrontiert wurden?

    Sonic Seducer: As one embryo grows in the womb, and is convenient to briefly united with his mother after birth as an infant. In its pictures all shapes, symbols and objects are almost always grown directly with one another and make a whole, organic structure, or even a single entity. Do you think that painting could have been a kind of therapy for this incisive horror experience in early youth, with which they were confronted again and again in it dreams?

    HR Giger: Darüber habe ich mir eigentlich noch nie Gedanken gemacht. Aber wenn ich mir es so recht überlege, ist das sicherlich möglich. Es ist auf jeden Fall ein interessanter Ansatz, der mich vor einigen Jahren zum Grübeln angeregt hätte. Heute bin ich jedoch froh, daß ich diesen Traum nicht mehr habe, da ich jedes mal schweißgebadet aufgewacht bin.

    HR Giger: About that I have never thought, actually. But if I consider it so surely, this is possible absolutely. It's definitely an interesting approach, which would have inspired me a few years ago to brood. Today, nevertheless, I am glad that I have this dream no more, because I have woken every time bathed in sweat. (SonicSeducer_3_99)

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