It’s approaching 6.30 in the morning here, so it’s already afternoon in Geumgang. I’ve been awake for a while, thinking myself eight hours and many thousands of miles away, and wondering what I want to say this morning. Here after what has been thus far a ‘good’ English summer –– quite sunny, quite warm –– the weather has broken. It is raining now, and the temperature has fallen to 14°, lower overnight than it’s been for a while. Today it is supposed to rain until early afternoon – just about the time the light is beginning to fade in Geumgang, and then the sun is supposed to shine. But this is a brief respite. Tomorrow we are due a storm of winter-like intensity, set to be worse here on the southwest coast than anywhere else in the country with gale-force winds gusting up to 60mph and intense periods of prolonged heavy rain. As we are also just past full moon and a fairly high Spring tide, local flooding is inevitable.
I describe all this merely in contrast to the weather in Geumgang, where the weather continues to be hot and humid. Everyone I spoke to yesterday mentioned this. But you, too, have a storm on the way. The weather map shows quite a large storm front heading your way, so perhaps there are some parallels here after all. But in tropical climates this often doesn’t bring relief from the heat, but an intensifying of it. While our temperatures are set to fall as the low pressure steams in, temperatures in Geumgang are set to rise even higher. The humidity and oppression will today just continue to build as monsoon approaches.
From my far away observations thus far some impressions are already emerging. These may be entirely unfair and incorrect, but here are a few thoughts.
I wonder what ‘Art Nature’ means? It already raises some thorny questions with it’s capitalised-noun rendition of ‘Nature’. There is much discussion to be had about this alone. What is this Nature I wonder? Does it simply mean ‘being outdoors’? Or does ‘Art Nature’ aspire to much deeper relationships with the land? From the work I observe shaping up, some of it I would describe as (to paraphrase Lippard) being ‘in’ the land but not ‘of’ it. There is work here that feels like an imposition, carelessly placed, something of an intrusion. To counterbalance this, I see a fantastic use of materials, and an ephemerality in the work that is completely appropriate for a natural environment that is itself in a constant state of decay. Our world, after all, is ephemeral: in a constant state of renewal as well as decay and death.
There are many artists here with a lifetime of experience of making work in and about the natural world and whose work has a conversation, a relationship with its place. It’s too soon to start discussing particular artists or particular artworks, but already I sense there are particular pieces I will want to explore further over the next ten days or so.
I look forward to those conversations with relish.
Good morning my world; good afternoon Geumgang.