The Forest: Politics, Poetics and Practice
The Forest: Politics, Poetics, and Practice, one of the museum’s inaugural exhibitions, included contemporary works of art by 30 artists from around the world who focused on the forest as a theme. The exhibition reflected–and inspired–a multidisciplinary response to the forest through art. The wooded landscape of the museum and the university’s 8,000 acres of forest provided a fitting backdrop. German artist Wolfgang Staehle premiered a new digital video project. Some of the works–including those by German artist Joseph Beuys and Rosemary Laing of Australia–examined issues of war, nuclear threat, colonialism and deforestation. Others, including Kiki Smith of the United States, Italian artist Giuseppe Penone and Yang Fudong of China, investigated the psychological, mythical, spiritual or literary aspects of the forest. A few, including Alan Sonfist of the United States and Simon Starling of the United Kingdom, were actively engaged in issues of ecology. Chapel Hill artist Patrick Dougherty enlisted help from volunteers to gather branches and saplings from Duke Forest and wove them into a large-scale sculpture outside the museum’s main entrance called Side Steppin’. The Forest was organized by guest curator Kathleen Goncharov and included drawing, prints, sculpture, photography, film, video and new media. The exhibition was co-sponsored by Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences.