Friday, August 24, 2007

art : environment : function

Merwelanden nature reserve in Dordrecht

In an environment, among a city and a tide. Can art function, can the artist weild his creativity, regenerating his material, and in his action create a work of art? Here at Merwelanden nature reserve in Dordrecht, Netherlands, Lucien den Arend finds a channel to ask this very question. And in its making a statement is formed. For Lucien, yes is the answer found among the willow branches, freshly harvested from this public work created in 1990. These placed willows regenerate their branches to a desirable size on a 3 - 4 year cycle. They are then harvested and used for various projects.

I became concerned with this projects functions. It seeks to assert validity by emphasising the utility of natural processes inherent to the landscape and existing environment; perhaps a raw exposure of some post-modern naturalism (< words). The full value of this work therefore cannot be readily accessed by the lense of aestetics alone. Seen here it exsits seprately from its atmosphere captured by photographic image, and at its near best it exists as a series of punctuated moments in the memory of regularly passing viewers drawn to its transfomative nature. This work seems to validate its being through a sense of awareness, a glimpse of humanity found in the action of a maker aware of his connections to the cycles of the land. Does it fail as art and if so where? Implied here is another question. Since the acceptance of modern and conceptural art, has the art audience developed a sense of recognition which values conceptual content over other forms of artistic content? Does the experience of art today place emphasis on an aestetic system of valuation or is there a growing trend supporting the development of conceptual content in contemporary work?

Worth noting are the questions brought about by works of this nature. The extent to which this work integrates into the needs of the surrounding landscape is unknown, however it is likely that this work provides valuable flood protection and erosion control to the surrounding wetlands. What happens when a work evolves into a functioning element of its environement? Does this function recontextualize the work. Does it exist as art once seperated from the intentions of its maker? And in closing is there a balance between the inevitable modernist question "form v. function"? Does that balance point shift as one alters the environment into which the work is integrated?


above artist and image.

Lucien den Arend
tribute to Cor Noltée
pollard willow project

For more on this work visit source page directly:

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