Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Rivers and Tides


RENT THIS DVD AT ONCE!!! Andy Goldsworthy is a weird Scotsman who is an “environmental sculptor.” And what the hell does that mean? Well, he’s not like Christo, who I love, whose works are all outdoors because they are so goddam big.

What he does is, he goes someplace, and he makes something. He uses no tools except what he finds there; for him, a rock or a thorn is hi-tech. His raw materials are ice, rock, moss, peat, leaves, sticks. No paint, no brushes, no hammers or chisels. Some of the things he builds leap out at you as made things, like his giant rock eggs made of flat sheets of rock, or his ice arches or spirals. Other things blend into the environment at first, then leap out at you as obviously made. He weaves leaves together and sets them floating down streams. He crushes little dull red rocks he finds and makes a natural red dye that is so brilliant it is shocking, and throws it into the air and water.

I know, it all sounds crazy and flakey. His rumination on the spirituality are a little bit high-flown, but they mean a lot to him; his sincerity shines through. He is a hard worker. His hands are a wreck. He freezes his butt off. He makes paintings by arranging autumn leaves or pins twigs together with thorns into patterns and spectra that are dazzling … and any moment a wind can come up and blow away ten hours’ work. His ice spirals melt when the sun shines on them.

This isn’t “conceptual” bullshit. It is not the “idea” that he’s created these ephemeral things, though often he’s the only one around when he makes them, and when they fall apart. No, he photographs them, and this film was made, so they continue to exist. You can see a very small selection of his magic here and here. But you really need the motion of this film to really appreciate them. Even better, I’d like to watch him work some time. I’d even help.