Responding to sites around the world through works created in site specific installation, intervention, ephemeral sculpture, video, sound, web, permanent site-specific sculpture, photography, printmaking,painting & drawing.
Looking south-west to passage to lake trail...
Ligne du Nord:Sud-Oest
La Ligne du Nord: Sud-Oest/The Line of the North: South-West includes three sites beginning with a site line that follows a stand of pine trees heading north, then turns south-west across a field to a passage way through another stand of pine, to a lake path which brings the viewer to the final site on the west side of the lake.
I spent the first two days hiking around the 1500 acre site and kept being drawn back to the stand of pine trees that line the main driveway, and entrance to St Bernard, creating a border between the forest and fields. Standing at this first site I was struck by the sound the wind made as it crossed the tops of the trees much like an Aeolian harp I wanted to bring viewers to this place to hear this ancient melody.
This first site is 180 paces in length and holds 60 pine trees, each ringed with a circle of birch bark. From a distance, these birch bands create a line that accentuates and follows the lay of the land, while inviting viewers to the site.
I chose to use birch bark, not only because it was fairly abundant, but also for its magical meaning of rebirth and new beginnings with the circle symbolizing the cycle/circle of life.
The birch bark was collected, over four days, from trees that had been cut down on the west side of the lake and left on the forest floor. As I was removing bark from these downed trees I was stuck by the thought that my ancestors in Finland had also gathered bark from birch trees, using it to make musical instruments, baskets, dishes, shoes and more.
The bark was then dried in the studio for two days, cut and pieced together to fit the diameter of each tree, and then soaked in water, to soften them, before being installed. Windfall sticks were collected, sharpened on one end, and used to pierce and hold the bark together around each tree.
At the north end of this first site-line, the line turns and crosses an open field to the south-west where two more birch ringed pines mark the entrance to a passageway that leads to the path that circles the lake, and brings viewers to the third and final site on the westside of the lake.
This third site was found after the decision was made to place a line of birch along the first site and to follow it across the lake. The discovery made at the third site began days of indecision, mystery and intrigue and caused me to extend my stay from 7 days to 10.
It was just past dawn, on an overcast morning, when I set out to find the third site, on the third day. I was walking along the path trying to follow the site-line through the trees when the sun came out from behind the clouds, for a few brief minutes, illuminating a large birch tree that was down and resting on living trees, creating an archway in the forest. As I made my way up the hill to this birch I was startled and amazed to see an old stone cairn resting under the birch archway. The cairn was covered in thick moss and lichen and trees had started to grow from it, it was being reclamed by the forest.
This cairn has been carefully made and is approximately 12' in length, 6' wide and 30" high. It is reminiscent of a boat in shape and built of three tiers of stones. It lies in an East-West direction and is set into, and protected by, the hill behind it to the West. Four trees seem to stand guard around it, one at each corner - creating a shelter of green leaves over it, perhaps also sheltering the remains of some living being.
No one at Domaine St Bernard knew what this cairn might be or that it even existed. When I brought someone back with me to investigate, I found a second cairn, nearly in the center of what may once have been a clearing. This one seemed older and more overgrown, and is situated in a North-South direction. It is similar in shape to the first, but perhaps slightly smaller.
This discovery added another layer of meaning to the work, and caused me to re-think the entire project. If this was a burial site was it 'right' to bring viewers there should I choose another site or keep this one that I had found or perhaps found me.
I pondered over this decision for a few days.* I brought other artists with me to the site, watching them as they became completely involved in the site, the mystery of the cairns and a thorough investigation of the land. During these explorations another 11+ stone sites were found to the west, and beyond the hill that hold the inital two cairns. Although these other sites do not have the same feeling as the first one, they are mysterious and thought-provoking. What are they? Who made them?
This discovery has given me the opportunity to further reflect on our own passage through the land what remanants do we leave behind and how do we mark our journey through this landscape?
* During this 'thinking-time' I continued working in the land doing a series of small ephemeral site pieces. Two of which completely vanished within two days - the third is BirchBerry.
Birch bark being harvested
Birch bark in the studio...
©Ingrid Koivukangas 2003
Copyright 2003 Ingrid Koivukangas, all rights reserved