Forest Geometries (Koningsbos)
To pass through the woods like a shadow...
During a residency at the Frans Masereel Centrum, an international printmaking centre in the Belgian countryside, I engaged in a site-specific performance project called Forest Geometries. Using forest floor materials - abundant and varied species of fungi and pine needles - from the lush Koningsbos forest nearby, I made a series of sculptural paperworks. Some of the pulp was formed into geometric shapes which distorted and tore themselves into unique forms as they dried. The rest was formed into sheets and cut into squares when dry.
The paper pieces were shown on the Frans Masereel Centrum gallery floor in sunlight, isolated from their environment by glass. They were then returned to the forest in a ceremony of apology. The paper, highly toxic to humans, was restored to a complex and ancient ecological system in which modern human intervention has been overwhelmingly short-sighted and destructive. Forest Geometries was an act of meditation on how far we humans have come from being able to emulate the cycle of complete disintegration and regeneration of every other species, and a challenge to the art-making culture which is often complicit in thoughtless consumption and pollution.
It began to rain, and the paper started its slow process of decomposition back into the ground. The pieces resembled fallen leaves in jarringly geometric shapes. New leaves and pine needles fell on top of them, and tiny fungi sprouted up in the gaps. Several days later the pieces were still intact, but barely perceptible among the forest debris. Soon they had been completely reclaimed by a new generation of forest life.
Paper sculptures in Forest Geometries at the Frans Masereel Centrum gallery,
with the Koningsbos visible in the background
Squares of paper made from fungi and pine needles
Fungus and pine needle paper cast over a cube
Returning the paperworks to the forest
This unique piece remained in the Frans Masereel Centrum Collection as a record of the performance.
All remaining forest matter has biodegraded back into its habitat.
Thanks to my stellar foraging team and collaborators in group residency and show Environment/Process/Meditation at Frans Masereel Centrum:
Jamie Scherzer, Sariah Park, Xuewu Zheng and Malgorzata Oakes (behind the camera)