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Sierra Magazine
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Sierra's November/December 2004 Let's Talk film selection:
Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working With Time
A film by Thomas Riedelsheimer

What it's about
This artful documentary chronicles the work of Andy Goldsworthy, a Scottish sculptor whose raw materials are elements of the natural world: leaves, driftwood, ice, and rock, which he painstakingly assembles into startling, haunting, yet ephemeral creations. Until recently, most of his works were preserved only in still photography.

German filmmaker Thomas Riedelsheimer, however, followed Goldsworthy over the course of a year, documenting his methodical, serene approach, with voice-overs by the artist explaining the process. "A film that audiences hungry for beauty will likely devour with their eyes," wrote the Seattle Times. With music by Fred Frith.

Where to get it
Rivers and Tides is available at selected rental outlets, and also on DVD for $26.95 from Roxie Cinema Releasing, the distribution arm of the independent San Francisco movie house that introduced the film to North America.

About the filmmaker
German filmmaker Thomas Riedelsheimer's works prior to Rivers and Tides included Government on Air (Bildschirmherrschaft, 1989), The Brides of Christ (Sponsae Christi, 1992), Lhasa and the Spirit of Tibet (Lhasa und der Geist Tibets, 1997), and Metamorphoses (Metamorphosen, 1998). His latest work is Touch the Sound: A Sound Journey with Evelyn Glennie (2004).

Discussion questions
Not everyone has Goldsworthy's vision (or patience), but nearly everyone has built a snowman or daisy chain. How do you "play" with nature? How does this kind of interaction with nature affect you? What do you think about art that is made to be ephemeral? What sort of artist is Goldsworthy? Is he a sculptor, or more of a performance artist? How might the fine arts influence efforts to promote conservation? (or vice-versa?)

What kind of creation might Goldsworthy come up with in your part of the country? Art critic Rebecca Solnit once compared Goldsworthy's works to Sierra Club calendar photographs, finding both to be a "version of nature as pretty, friendly, and tidy...Icicles point down because of gravity; dandelions grow scattered because of seeding patterns; but Goldsworthy's reorganization seems to disregard the forces behind this natural order in favor of a more visible, aestheticized order." Do you agree?

What happens when nature is "prettified" by art? Does it bring people closer to nature, or present a vision that real life can never live up to?

Links
You can read about Goldsworthy and other natural artists in Sierra's "Restoration Art," May/June 2003. His works are well represented on the Web: See, e.g., the Cass Sculpture Foundation website and the Center for Global Environmental Education.


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