Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time (2001)
Andy Goldsworthy is a Scottish sculptor and photographer who creates emphemeral works using only natural elements. (Click here to see some of his gorgeous work.) Rivers and Tides is a documentary about Goldsworthy's work by German filmmaker Thomas Riedelsheimer.
I was already a huge fan of Goldsworthy's work, but I fell in love with Andy as I watched this film. It's a slow hour and a half meditation on place, rootedness, and cycles in the environment. As I watched an igloo of driftwood he'd created spin slowly away on the rising tide of the ocean's current, it brought to mind the words of William Blake, "Eternity is in love with the productions of time." Timbers of the igloo floated away from the structure at an almost glacial speed. "It doesn't feel at all like destruction," Andy said as he watched it breaking apart in a graceful spiral.
Andy said that his works are gifts to the flow (of time or of water) and that flow makes more of them than what he, as an artist, is able to accomplish. He spoke of stories that are written in the landscape and how you cannot read those stories unless you spend a significant amount of time in one place. "Five years isn't enough to know a place," he said, and I knew exactly what he meant.
Andy said that when he travels he feels uprooted and he doesn't like this disturbing feeling. "Rooted" was a word he used often. Roots and place are central to his work and his vision of the world. His work explores and expresses his connection to the earth and, in particular, to his small village in Scotland. He expressed this idea particularly well in an installation he did in France. He created a wall from clay which was dug in Scotland. To bind the clay he used human hair collected from hairdressers in his village. He said he liked the idea of the human being bound up in the clay, and it was particularly meaningful for him because it was his village that was bound into the medium.
Riedelsheimer did an outstanding job of capturing the meditative and even trance-like quality of Andy's works as they develop. At the end of this documentary I felt quieted and soothed by the process of Andy's work and by the way Riedelsheimer allowed Andy to simply talk to the camera without any intrusive questions. The film is a beautiful journey into the flow of the natural world as it enhances the work of this environmental artist.