I recently had the opportunity to visit Michael Sailstorfer’s exhibition, “Forst” at the Berlinische Galerie Museum of Modern Art. When you first walk into the gallery space, you are confronted with five trees that hang upside down from the ceiling. As you explore the space you find that each tree slowly rotates dictated by independent electric motors fastened to the steel beams. Suspended by their trunk, the trees have a presence uncomfortably large for the gallery, evoking a feeling of containment and sympathetic for the tree’s exploitation in the space. As the tress move within the space the braches branches scrape against the walls which conduct a creaking noise , chipping away the paint and leaving gestural marks on the stark white walls. Their crowns fold against the floor sweeping the debris of branches and dead leaves into circular shapes that collect as the exhibit continues and the trees further decay. It is clear that Michel Sailstorfer’s driving concepts in his work deal with time. It is an exposé of the transition into death exhibited by trees hang unnaturally in the exhibit.
In the back of the gallery is a secondary piece to Sailstorfer’s installation, “Schwarzwald”, a television monitor with a live feed of a forest. When viewing the television you see a 6×6 foot portain of the forest floor painted black, tucked in pre-existing trees and assorted foliage. The broadcasted live feed attempts to present that nature will slowly grow back over the 6×6 man made mark, re-conquering the space it originally prosessed. The live feed almost looks like a photograph because these natural shifts cannot be seen in one siting.
In it’s entirety, “Forst”, is an exhibition of two primary components. One being the installation of the gallery, and the other a live feed. There is an interesting communication between the two. The trees in the gallery are culled from nature, and placed in a sterile gallery setting, highlighting the slow death and decay of the vegetation. The video functions as a displacement from the gallery, but discusses about similar concepts rooted in time. The black square Sailstorfer painted in the midst of the forest will soon camouflage into the natural setting as plants grow and flourish. “Forst” highlights the interaction between man and nature, redefining visitors’ consciousness of their relationship with the outside world, and that their actions in urban scape dictates the rural landscapes that surround our metropolis havens.
Artist: Michael Sailstorfer
Exhibition Title: “Forst”
Venus: Berlinische Galerie Museum of Modern Art
Press Release Excerpt:
Michael Sailstorfer (*1979 Velden/Vils), is the prize-winner of “Vattenfall Contemporary 2012”. This choice pays tribute to an artistic position that re-questions and extends the classical concept of sculpture. In his often lavishly produced works he creates new, unfamiliar relations between everyday objects and processes, so generating images with great poetic effect.
The central motif of his first major solo exhibition in Berlin is the forest. Five trees in the installation Forst, hanging upside down and revolving around their own axes, take up the whole of the 10-metre high exhibition space. While Sailstorfer brings nature into the exhibition space here, with his second work Schwarzwald (Black Forest) he takes art into nature: he produced a square field in an area of forest using black paint, which is reminiscent of Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square dating from 1914/15. Its slow disintegration, triggered by natural processes, is watched over by a video camera and transmitted via live stream to a screen in the exhibition space.
Contributed by Nina Potepan