Middle of Nowhere Productions

Middle of Nowhere Productions

Andy Goldsworthy

Andy Goldsworthy : Grandeur in humility.

There is much to say about the interface art/nature ; they are generally opposed, since art is seen as man’s ingenuity and nature as, well, just nature. Some still believe that art, at its very best, is the imitation, or rendering, of nature ; all the Turners and Gainsboroughs and Stubbses and Boudins are exhibited in museums to prove it. Contemporary art then messed it up, with impressionism, abstraction, surrealism, cubism, and hyperrealism as a mock return-to-the-sourcesism. Looking at Andy Goldsworthy way of making art, one can think of Beuys, Rothko and Pollock mixed together, but it is the same thing when one looks at any humble cabin in a tropical area, with its clay walls carelessly sprayed with natural oxides just because man is man and has to mark the place . However important the market, however important the museums, the public commissions, the collectors, what ultimately surfaces is the act, the gesture, the intent, the motivation and the desire.

How can you sculpt an elephant? Just take a ten-ton block of marble and painstakingly remove everything from it that does not look like an elephant. Then chip off the rest to make the marble look like elephant skin. How can you paint a wild horse? Select the place in the cave where the rock’s curves indicate something like a horse’s leg, or rump, then mix some ochres with your own urine and finish the impression of the horse. How can you create religious art? Pour some different sands onto the ground, play your didgeridoo and wait for the wind to swallow up the work.

Some do it with motorways,(one of my friends’ conception of the biggest monument dedicated to the cult of the sun) but at the beginning, as Goldsworthy himself has understood it, they were called agriculturists and they did it with their bare hands, a spade, or with a plough, drawing lines through the wild and giving it sense. They say in the plain of Nazca it was made for eyes of the gods, a patient, almost blind moving of small rocks to create mile-long spiders or hummingbirds.

When someone tells you I’m an artist, look at his or her hands; if they are not stained with pigments, a bit callous, the nails uneven, the cuticles dry and flaky, the pulp scarred, then he or she is a liar. Andy Goldsworthy is more than an artist; he is a fieldworker, a pristine gardener of the earth, a martyr. He does not paint the flower, but organises it in its element, he does not use the animal’s hair as a brush on canvas, but as a crude tool that underlines the shape of the rock, he does not spread the ochre on a wall but lets the wind or the water, nature’s chief sculptors, do the job. He paints and sculpts with his bare hands and teeth, and his sculpting is neither subtractive nor additional, but neutral. He sculpts like a wasp, or a colony of termites. He does not imitate, he does not interpret, he does not modify, but reveals the fundamental energies of the cosmos. His work, like Prospero’s in The Tempest, is made to leave not a rack behind.

Paradoxically, because art is supposed to be man’s response to death, because art is supposed to last and leave a trace, he has chosen the absence of trace and the surrendering to the erosive force of nature as the trace of no trace.

Photography is here to keep the trace, of course, but then again, like in Boltanski’s works, what is photography but the trace of death and disapperarance, the interface of two deaths: the subject’s and more, the photographer’s.


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