Forest Geometries (Koningsbos)

I wanted to pass through the woods like a shadow...

Next to the Frans Masereel Centrum (an international printmaking centre in the Belgian countryside) is a lush and fertile forest called the Koningsbos. During a residency there in October 2019 I engaged in a site-specific performance project called Forest Geometries. Using materials from the forest floor - abundant and varied species of fungi and pine needles - 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, which were cut into squares when dry. The collision of geometry and natural forms, an ongoing theme in my work, is a way of exposing the limits of human consciousness in relation to sophisticated ecologies of which we are only recently becoming aware, or have forgotten ​over centuries of industrialisation. 

The paper pieces were shown in the Frans Masereel Centrum gallery in sunlight, separated from the natural world by panes of glass. After the show, in a ceremony of apology to the earth, they were brought back to the forest. The paper, highly toxic to humans, was returned home 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 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 so often complicit in thoughtless consumption and pollution.

 

It began to rain, and the paper started its slow process of decomposing back into the ground. The pieces resembled fallen leaves in absurdly 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. By now they have been completely reclaimed by a new generation of forest life.

Paper sculptures in Forest Geometries at the Frans Masereel Centrum gallery.

 The Koningsbos is visible in the background

Squares of paper made from mushrooms and pine needles

Mushroom and pine needle paper cast over a cube

Returning the paperworks to the forest

This unique piece was donated to the Frans Masereel Centrum Collection as a record of the performance. 

All remaining forest matter was returned to its original site. 

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)

Arranging paper sculptures in sunlight

 

 

All material on this website is © Emilie Houssart 2019. Please do not reproduce without the express written permission of Emilie Houssart.