Betrachtungen des Waldes

Elke Dreier

11.05 – 11.06.2021

Elke Dreier, Betrachtungen des Waldes, 2021, video installation (still image)

Elke Dreier, Betrachtungen des Waldes, 2021, video installation (still image)

Elke Dreier, Betrachtungen des Waldes, 2021, video installation (still image)

Elke Dreier, Betrachtungen des Waldes, 2021, video installation (still image)

Elke Dreier, Betrachtungen des Waldes, 2021, video installation (still image)

Elke Dreier, Betrachtungen des Waldes, 2021, video installation (still image)

Camera: Daniel Asadi FasziXylothek, TUM Holzforschung München

Elke Dreier, Betrachtungen des Waldes, 2021, video installation (still image)

Elke Dreier, Betrachtungen des Waldes, 2021, video installation (installation view)

Elke Dreier, Betrachtungen des Waldes, 2021, video installation (installation view)

Elke Dreier, Betrachtungen des Waldes, 2021, video installation (installation view)

Elke Dreier, Betrachtungen des Waldes, 2021, video installation (installation view)

The clearing in the forest is such a compelling image. It always seems to happen quite suddenly. The trees fall away to reveal an empty space. The sun shines there. Birds sing.  A butterfly flutters by.  Things become visible in the clearing as the eye adjusts to the bright light. We begin to perceive things that were previously hidden — things that otherwise might have escaped our notice. When we enter the clearing things show themselves to us. But what are these things that we see? And who are the ‘we’ to who see them?

For me, the clearing always will belong to Heidegger. When in ‘The Origin of the Work of Art’ he starts to describe the relation between truth and unconcealment, it is the clearing to which he turns. He writes here so memorably,

In the midst of being as a whole an open place occurs. There is a clearing. Thought of in reference to beings, this being is more in being than are beings. Thos open center is therefore not surrounded by beings; rather, the clearing center itself encircles all that is, as does the nothing, which we scarcely know. (‘Origin of the Work of Art,’ in Heidegger, Basic Writings, 114)

Heidegger makes good use of the way the clearing makes the forest visible to us, the moment when we finally see the space, light, and air, that despite always being present, within the forest remaining unnoticed, overlooked. For Heidegger, the clearing then becomes the metaphor for how beings stand in Being. 

But there are so many other approaches to the clearing, and it is this that the work of Elke Dreier shows so well: the clearing in its compelling-ness. We might look at the video footage of the local forest and see the light, the trees and the leaves. Those who are more observant might catch a glimpse of an insect or bird.  An expert bird imitator however, would know the names of all the birds he hears and be able to replicate their song exactly. Similarly, the staff at Munich’s Xylotheque could identify the wood structures of each of the trees found there. The clearing is thus open to all those who wish to enter. It invites us in.

The clearing as presented by Elke Dreier in Betrachtungen des Waldes is the first in a series of exhibitions (entitled, Thinking Nature) held at GiG Munich. These exhibitions hope to examine man’s relation to nature, or more accurately, how man’s thinking is structured through the relation he has with nature. For too long this kind of thinking had been focused on the relationship man establishes with nature. Traditionally, the condition of knowledge lies within the human subject and whatever his experience of the world might be. More recently Marxist, feminist, and postmodern thought have set to critique this relationship further.  I would argue the challenge is to think nature outside this relation, with our current climate crisis as well as the ongoing corona pandemic making this task all the more urgent. The clearing of Elke Dreier work is to provide the open space for discussion. 

Magdalena Wisniowska 2021

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