‘Cripplewood’ – Berlinde de Bruyckere, for the 2013 Venice Biennale

Berlinde-De-Bruyckere_Kreupelhout-_installation-designboom

(Image taken from; http://www.designboom.com/art/berlinde-de-bruyckere-cripplewood-at-venice-art-biennale/)

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(image taken from; http://www.hauserwirth.com/artists/6/berlinde-de-bruyckere/images-clips/)

As I have been exploring the image of the tree within Artwork, and more specifically, that of the dead tree; a symbol that is in a constant conflict with it’s revered, and traditional symbolism of life and growth, and yet, it’s usefulness, yet somber aspect of being a dead corpse. This work; ‘Cripplewood’, which I saw in the Belgian pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennalle three years ago, has stayed somewhere within me since my first experience with it. The image of the dead, waxen tree; it’s material nature resembling flesh, and the soft cushions, like bandages, providing support to the broken and battered form, has stayed within my mind’s eye for years. The piece is at once as monumental as it is pathetic, and the viewer can not help but feel sympathy for the seemingly damaged entity that lays in this dark and cold room. The way that the branches twist and intertwine is beautifully delicate, despite the already present associations with weight and density; these wax versions of the form hold a certain etherealness, they are distinctively flesh-like and therefore human, and yet are utterly not. I’m interested in this notion of abjection; of natural forces and synthesised ones coming together, and how this can be seen as a representation of Frankenstein’s practice; of the human desire to control and access the power of nature in their own way, and how they can come together.

This tangle of branches, of soft and of fragile, together with the harshness and density, is what I want to achieve within my own work. To create something as powerful and as natural as this, through my own hands, is something wonderful.

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