30' tall 2006
Installation at Natuurkunst Drenthe
Schoonoord, The Netherlands
Nederlands Palls/ Netherlands Poles
Learning the local language will contribute to the meanings embodied in the sculpture. How work is described, what materials are chosen, what their connotations are locally, this all is better exploited better through the use of language.
Naaien= Sewing, also Fucking.
Lang Pall= Long Pole, and also Big Dick.
There is a resonance in the language, albeit a bit vulgar, of the long poles, and the sewing of the materials, as fertility symbols.
Waterplant Pall/ Water Plant Pole
The disused Orajekanaal, once used to transport peat and other products to distant markets, gradually fell into disrepair and was blocked and closed to traffic in the 1970Ús.The canal is now stagnant and becomes choked by water plants in some areas. The local government sends out a boat from time to time to cut the weeds and haul them from the river. I have fashioned large grappling hooks from young Red Oak saplings. From the bank of the canal, adjacent to the main bridge in Schoonoord, I throw the hooks into the center of the canal and slowly haul them in, trapping large quantities of water weeds. There on the bank, I wrap the waterweed plants around the shaft of the hook, and bind it with thin twine. These are left to dry suspended from the edge of the bridge. I then bring the bundles by bike from the canal to the site of the installation. The process of collecting, binding and transporting the weeds, as it all takes place in the center of the village, is a performance. Each time I am working at the bridge, people in the adjacent café have watched and asked me what I was doing. First, came a gaggle of young boys, who thought that I had lost some money and was trying to fish it from the river. A local hairdresser and his wife thought I was perhaps fishing. Very friendly, they invited me to sit with them in the café, and bought me a beer. The act of making this work brings attention to the canal to the people of the area, to its possibility as a resource. I am eagerly going to great lengths to harvest and transport the most banal of materials. Perhaps people will look at the canal with a fresh eye after witnessing my actions.
Denappel Pall/ Pinecone Pole
The pinecone is widely distributed, in many variations throught much of the world. It is a simple and fun object, always fun for children and others to collect and throw, and play with in the forest. The strands of pinecones are fun and beautiful. By making Pinecone Poles in different areas of the world, I emphasize a connection between diverse regions and peoples. The project is installed on forest adjacent to the village. This land is managed by the Staatsbosbeheer, the state forestry department. This organization is a partner in the project and provides invaluable support in harvesting and transporting forest products for the artists, as well as providing tools, information, coffee, and a place to work. This branch of the Staatsbosbeheer manages 3000 hectares of state-owned land. The land is used for lumber production, wildlife conservation, and recreation. The majority of lumber produced is from varieties of coniferous trees. The pinecones are collected from a stand of mature pines close by the offices of the Staatsbosbeheer. The pinecones are drilled and strung at the workshop-barn behind the office. So, the pinecone, a seed, a toy and a phallus, moves from the forest floor to the cultural center of the forest (Staasbosbeheer), to the site of the installation.In this journey, both Nature and Culture are revered and empowered.
Wol Paal/ Wool Pole
The sheep was once an important economic resource of the area. Like the canal, the sheep has lost its importance in the area. Many sheep are still kept, but the bottom has dropped out of the market for wool. Through the ubiquitous processes of globalization and plasticization, no one will buy the wool. Petroleum-based fibers have replaced wool in much fabric production, and wool can be produced more cheaply in other parts of the world. Traditionally, sheep were watched by shepherds and dogs, and grazed on the fields of heather in the area. The site of the installation is one such area. The wool for the project was shorn from sheep which are still kept in the traditional manner, in the nearby town of Exloo.
Aardappel Paal/Potato Pole
Potatoes are grown extensively throughout the region and are consumed daily as the staple starch by the people. The Potato Pole moves Culture into Nature (Natuurkunst), food into the forest. It is heavy and tall, as are the people (Dutch people are ranked among the tallest in the world). It is made in a spirit of reverence for the Potato and for the local people. It is also humorus: Will it fall? Will it rot? Will it dry?, Will it sprout?
Tarwe Paal/Wheat Pole
Like potatoes, wheat is grown and consumed widely in the area. It was a staple food of the people who labored to build the canal, and remains a staple food in the area. I harvested young wheat from a field in the nearby hamlet of Odoornerveen, east of Schoonoord along the Oranjekanaal. At the farm, I loaded the sheaves onto a rowboat and delivered the harvest by boat the four kilometers to Schoonoord. By delivering to material in this way, attention is brought to the historical uses of the canal, as well as its possibilities for current recreational use.