Yesterday I went to see the documentary about Andy Goldsworthy, Rivers and Tides. It was extraordinary. I’ve known about Goldsworthy’s work for a long time — when I was a bookseller, I loved Andy Goldsworthy: A Collaboration with Nature, but I’d never seen his work in motion. In the movie, there are these extraordinary images of his art floating out to sea, or a long sinuous chain of bright-green leaves working it’s way out of a pool and flowing downriver.
Goldsworthy himself was also inspiring. I’ve been having a terrible time getting any work done these past weeks — my sorrow has hit the immobilization stage where it seems all I can do is sit on the couch with the dogs and watch daytime reruns of Judging Amy and Law and Order. So seeing Goldsworthy talk about how he goes out and makes something every day really helped. He didn’t say he goes out and makes art every day, just that he goes out and makes something. He was also terribly moving discussing the relation of time to his work, that it’s all ephemeral, as well as talking about his attraction to “black holes” which seem to puncture right into the dark soul of the world. He made one in the base of a tree the day after his sister-in-law died young, and it seemed, on screen, to be the perfect expression of the mute mystery that is grief.
So in order to get off the couch and away from the TV, I drove to town and splurged on a copy of Godlsworthy’s book Time, which discusses many of the works he created during the filming of Rivers and Tides. Here’s a quote I liked:
I often see works — a balanced column of rocks, stacked icicles– looking stronger with each piece that is added, but also know that each addition takes it closer to collapse. Some of my most memorable works have been made in this way, and some of my worst failures could have produced some great pieces. Beauty does not avoid difficulty but hovers dangerously above it — like walking on thin ice.