My first day back to work. ‘Place’, an ‘exhibition in a book’ by Tacita Dean and Jeremy Millar often helps me re-focus after time away.
Dean and Mililar’s synopsis of A K Dolven’s project looking back describes the complex, reciprocal relationships between our sense of identity and our understanding of the natural world. But how are these relationships complicated when the ‘nature’ around us is understood to be artificial, prescribed, constructed?
(I have recently read ‘The Garden of Mirrored Flowers’ by Hu Fang, a dreamy novel that follows an architect as he designs a theme park for a new Chinese city, inspired by online computer games and classical literature including the Quing Dynasty novel ‘Flowers in the Mirror’. A disorienting read, it is hard to navigate the layers of fictional spaces, imaginary walkways, dream gardens.)
A few pages on are images of Roni Horn’s Becoming a Landscape, and text exploring relationships between the body and its surroundings:
‘In stating that “the view is not separate from the viewer”, Horn recognizes one of the most important relationships in an understanding of place within contemporary art: a desire to re-enact the land with meaning, or to examine that area of overlap and coincidence between inner and outer spaces.’
“When space feels thoroughly familiar to us, it has become place,” says geographer Yi-Fu Tuan. A sense of place grows through familiarity, through processes of acquaintance? I begin scanning my 100+ new slides of Culpeper (which arrived from the lab just before Christmas) and consider this particular process of acquaintance – which is meticulous, repetitious; it involves examining, capturing, fragmenting and re-combining tiny details of a place to establish new relationships with it.
I really enjoyed A K Dolven’s show at Wilkinson last year, especially her video installation selfportrait Berlin februar 1989 Lofoten august 2009. It is evocative and giddy, it describes the sensation of being in a space and also inside your body. I loved its textural quality too, the colours and the grain – these qualities keep coming to mind as I plan my double-exposure animation sequences of the garden.