Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Of birds and men

In my last post, I referenced Ana Mendieta in relation to the group of tiny 'land works" I did on one of the beaches yesterday.  Not quite an appropriate reference, but she immediately came to mind, particularly her figurative earthworks she made.  A much more accurate comparison to my activity of gathering and arranging would be that of the bower bird which was very much fore in my mind.  More fitting too since, I've brought David Rothenberg's Survival of the Beautiful as my reading material on this residency.  A perfect book for working in and reflecting on a setting as perfect as this.  

Last night, prior to dinner, a fellow resident reminded me of the most obvious human analogy to this activity is in the work of Andy Goldsworthy.  I was stunned that I simply hadn't even thought of him once during that morning's beach excursion (for I went out to tinker again yesterday morning) or during Monday's for that matter, which is really funny since those resulting actions are virtually a direct copping of his M.O. 
It's crazy to me that Goldsworthy was washed from my mind and an artist like Mendieta, whose work I might be able to respect, but don't have much time was the one whose work rooted itself in my brain. Goldsworthy's work, which I find entrancing, entertaining and inspiring is not loaded with angsty-feminist conceptual underpinnings which one would rightly assume would make it even more amenable to my own preferences - which it does.  That just doesn't explain why she, and not him, was in my head when I was essentially channeling him.   
It might be a sign of the influence my oft-environment has had in altering my thinking - namely the types of work and rhetoric I'm surrounded by while working at Bard's Curatorial Studies Program which is more concerned generally by Mendieta's flavor of gender identity politics and other such stuff from other such artists.  

Synchronously, David quotes Goldsworthy in Survival of the Beautiful:
I am not a bird and I do not mimic the things I see that birds and animals make.  However, there are parallels to be made.
The sculptures are a response to place, light, atmosphere, the daytime.  But it starts with the material.  That's the beginning and if there are a lot of branches that have curves in them, then that takes me in a certain direction.  It allows me to work with the material in particular ways that I cannot with a straight branch.  

That sums it up the motive/process nicely.  
I revisited one of the works made the day before to see that the tide placed a small rock in the center - improving the piece.
I went out again yesterday, early, and messed gently with the landscape on other shores of the island while also and for more trinkets to bring back to my own temporary bower.  It was a real man-bird hybrid of production.  I found myself compelled to touch and arrange these objects as I went along.  Whatever I couldn't/didn't want to carry along with my, but still intrigued me, I included in some little gesture.  They're not really compelling, but great fun to do, and I understand that upon discovering these little leavings on their own walks, some fellow residents created their intervention of their own...which I have yet to go search out.  
 I lassoed this great boulder and tied it down to a small tree found on the shore.  It felt too much like a clothesline to me, so when I passed it again on my way back to the studio, I altered it.  I removed the tree and anchored the boulder to a small rock I wedged into a fissure in the granite shore.  Though not adequately expressive, I liked the idea of the large, large stone being anchored by the small, small stone.

The Watcher
I spied this great strong bit of geometry in the sides of a crushed plywood box.  A very modernist bit of flotsam.  I had to find an appropriate perch for it. So I tried various plinths and contexts to best suit it as either a hard edged framing device or reductive formalist sculpture:

In the end I returned it to the first pedestal I tried, and it worked well enough there.
I found this disposable cup in a crevice.  The hole appeared as a silhouette of  a flower.  It seemed beautiful (I brought it back to the studio.)
Short Pant and Shoe


Anonymous said...

The islands beauty has given you a gift, your thoughts and photos are evocative and lovely..Carole bonicelli

cralbert said...

Thank you Carole,
I'm very appreciative for the opportunity to spend time in this wonderful place.