by Avy Claire
in the exhibition Dreaming Gardens
Suffolk University Gallery
75 Arlington Street, Boston
June 10 – August 22, 2014
Though at first it struck me as a kind of intentionally hazy and somewhat monotonous account of the movement of what seemed like trees, this film (so to speak) really grew on me. As I stood and watched it evolve, I saw the images change subtly: branches filtered in and out, backgrounds emerged, light and shadows played rhythmically and altered incrementally.
The subtlety of the changes, interestingly, brought to mind a 16 minute video by Bill Viola, The Quintet of Remembrance, I had seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York some years ago. At the outset it appeared that the live actors in what seemed like a contemporary replication of a Flemish group portrait were completely still, but, as I sat and watched, their positions changed incrementally. It was fascinating, and a great encouragement to slow down and pay attention.
I had the opportunity to speak with Claire at the opening of this show. She explained that the video was shot directly from her living room wall where the trees from outside her window had cast remarkably vivid shadows. When I realized that these were shadows and not an intentionally out of focus rendition of the trees themselves it changed my expectations and experience considerably.
Claire also remarked that she is interested in the idea of worlds behind appearances. When I suggested that she was a Platonist of sorts, she readily acknowledged the association. Curiously, in the allegory of the cave in Plato’s Republic Socrates likens things of the world to shadows cast upon an interior wall; that idea represents an interestingly close mythic analogue to Claire’s cinematic construct in Malus.
This video is part of a small exhibition at Suffolk University Art Gallery devoted to gardens and the fanciful interpretations of them, including, among other interesting offerings, some wonderful chromatic constructions of leaf arrays a bit reminiscent of Andy Goldsworthy’s work.