Visual art exhibitions and events with a platform for critical writing
Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire
Reviewed by: Louise Short »
After twenty years of artwork being presented in the forest, Reveal shows how temporary new commissions in light and sound can operate in this context.
We had about three hours to view eight artworks over a mile of woodland paths. The glowing diaphanous fog spewing from Hells vents in Katayoun Pasban Dowlatshahis new commission was sublime. Reminiscent of Mariele Neudecker and Olafur Eliason, this work however did not benefit from the soundtrack of something either dripping (or smouldering?). Nathaniel Rackowes scanning elevators amongst the fir trees might have been playthings for adolescent squirrels to ride on in the dead of night.
I was intrigued to see so many trees illuminated by small lamps, since most were covered with lichens (some quite rare). Lichens are sensitive organisms: they enjoy a quiet life, slowly and symbiotically spreading themselves, sensitive to the air pollution we produce in our pursuit of progress. On closer inspection these lights, which were strapped to the trees, were miners lamps the rechargeable state of the art type, not candle or tallow. I thought about the disconnectedness we have to our relationship to nature. But then I was reminded of the history of the forest, riddled with coalmines that provided fuel for the Industrial Revolution, and later underground armament stores during WW2. It was sulphur dioxide from coal burning that produced acid rain which threatened these lichens. Laura Dalys work also required audio alertness to the sounds of miners hacking away at the coalface beneath if you happened to be under the right tree.
Early season moths were sometimes caught fluttering in the beams of the projectors; however this was not part of the artwork. I moved on, the cordoned path and stewards ensuring I stuck to the task in hand. The frenetic trampling of hundreds of chattering people with torches, glow sticks, walkie-talkies, and a range of luminous coats was intrusive.
Tabatha Andrews dilating black hole projected onto a row of evergreens, was a perfectly sited crescendo, which disrupted ones own sense of three dimensionality after having been so tuned in to the depth of the forest by the other works. It recalls the Hegelian notion that pure light and pure darkness are two voids which are the same thing1. In a curious sort of way, it reminded me of Magdalana Jetelovás Chair a ghostly giant chair made of tree trunks, created some years ago, was such a powerful object to encounter at night, on the crest of the hill, illuminated only by the moon with a half penumbra it has haunted me ever since. The hooting of the owls and various unidentifiable animal squawks made the moment as only the wild side can do.
Regrettably, despite being grateful for the lift, we arrived by car and left by car.
1The Science of Logic, translated by Miller (London 1969).
Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust »
Bank House, Bank Street, COLEFORD GL16 8BA
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