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RIVERS AND TIDES

Albert Camusís "The Myth of Sisyphus" comes to mind while youíre watching Scottish environmental sculptor Andy Goldsworthy work on a project in Thomas Riedelsheimerís documentary. Heís trying to build one of his trademark pinecone-shaped sculptures out of stones on a beach before the tide comes in. After itís collapsed for the fourth time, he says that with each attempt he got to know the stone a little better, but he just didnít get to know it well enough. What most would regard as futility and transience Goldsworthy, like the mythical hero of Camusís essay, embraces. Art, he believes, is not about permanence, itís about catching the patterns of the ephemeral, the natural cycle of ebb and flow.

That all sounds a bit touchy-feely, but as Goldsworthy points out, his work often speaks better than his words, and the images of him pulverizing a stone into an iron-rich powder and then tossing it into a river so that it flows red like blood give force to the notion that even rocks are fluid. Goldsworthy finds a fine collaborator in Riedelsheimer, and the film shimmers with stunning images of intricate pieces achieving their apotheosis and then collapsing in a variety of environments. Riedelsheimerís illuminating recording of the process, however, begs the question: if a sculpture falls in the woods and only the sculptor sees it, is it art? (90 minutes)

BY PETER KEOUGH

Issue Date: February 6 - 13, 2003
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