A Forest 

Site-specific installation (2019).

 

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"A Forest" (2019), site-specific installation, exhibited in Alfred Cooperative Gallery, Tel-Aviv. Installation views and details.

 

Plaster, wood, acrylic pigment, styrofoam, steel, polyurethane, light, water, clay.

4.30 m height x 80 cm diameter (columns)

120 cm height x 120 cm deep (fountain)

Overall installation: 8 m x 5 m x 4 m
 

A Forest is a site-specific installation comprised of 9 four-meters tall sculptures, and a few other rock sculptures scattered around the space, leading to a spring of water hidden among them in the shape of a fountain.

The sculptures are made of balanced plaster rocks, holding on to each other by a fragile reciprocal equilibrium in which the defects of one stone are complemented by the defects of the one sitting underneath it, recreating both a sense of random natural accumulation and careful intention, instilling in the viewer a sense of lightness and at the same time the feeling of being threatened by the perceived instability of the objects.

In their structure the vertical rocks are reminiscent of trees, but their texture and color recalls that of bones, almost as if they were spinal chords of giant creatures long gone.

The process of creation of the stones is, in a way, the most important part of the artwork: each stone had to be carved individually with a hot knife incredibly slowly, then had to be covered in several layers of plaster by hand in order to be painted later. The process is extenuating and finding the right balance for each column was as slow as creating its parts. The same sense of massiveness and slowing of time permeates the space while visiting it. The amount of rough work can be literally felt while walking around the columns.

 

The white trees inspire an innate sense of sacred, like archetypal symbols of universal worship as Stonehenge or Native American Totems. Since the viewers are forced to go through them in order to move forward, they have to make constant choices about whether to move left or right of every sculpture they find.

As they reach the final obstacle, they are faced with a source of freshwater: a fountain made by three plates of different sizes creating an optical illusion, gently falling into each other, surrounded by small round stones peeking out like mysterious creatures.

The top plate is empty, the middle plate is covered in broken mirrors and precious stones, while the bottom plate is filled with black stones and a thin layer of holographic paper, scattering light and rainbow reflections around the water.

In front of the fountain-shrine there is a chair, inviting the person to sit in front of it.

Once sitting, surrounded by the sound of water dripping and the smell of wetness, the viewers can concentrate on the reflections of light vibrating around the walls, or turn to the left and observe themselves in a mirror - this time intact, unlike the one in the water facing them.

Everything is white but them - the person becomes the only element of color in the whole forest, if not for delicate rainbow reflections caused by the light hitting the mirrors.

As they leave the space and exit the forest, each time that by accident or by purpose a stone is touched with any part of the body, the plaster (which wasn’t varnished on purpose) leaves a mark on the person - a physical stamp of their presence in the sacred space, completing the ritual and accompanying them home.

Elena Ceretti Stein © 2020

© 2020 by Elena Ceretti Stein