Leaning into the Wind: Andy Goldsworthy (2017) ****
Dir: Thomas Riedelsheimer; Documentary with Andy Goldsworthy, Holly Goldsworthy; UK/Germany 2017, 97 min.
Sixteen years after their last impressive collaboration Rivers and Tides, Thomas Riedelsheimer teams up again with the self-proclaimed land artist and sculptor Andy Goldsworthy, joining him around the world to film his ground-breaking experimental artistry with stones, branches, fallen trees leaves, clay, rocks, vines and even icicles.
We start in the Brazilian reservation of Ibitipoca where Goldsworthy admires the floor of a hut: thehomemaker, an elderly woman stating simply “that all you need is clay and cow dung’, but it is hard work”. Via the Presidio Park in San Francisco, the two explore the English countryside, Provence, Gabon, a museum’s courtyard in St. Louis before returning to the artist’s home in Dumfriesshire, where we witness one of the most astonishing moments: Goldsworthy looks like he is swimming through trees, floating, a total inversion of the usual images of men being swallowed by machinery. Goldsworthy sometimes collaborates with animals in what he calls “random art” where he initiates sheep painting with their hooves.
The overriding impression is ephemeral, or, quoting the late Roger Ebert, who wrote about Rivers and Tides “Watching this movie, is like day dreaming”. Goldsworthy himself is less sure about what he does: “I am contradicting himself in my creations, because nature is everywhere. It is not so clear any more. I am just trying to make sense of this world.” If Paganism was a religion, Goldsworthy would be its first apostle. But there are all also very worldly moments, particularly when he involves his daughter Holly; as does Riedersheimer with his son Felix.
Goldsworthy never hides his admiration for nature: he even eats a handful of leaves, before spitting them out. And the urban environment often creates opportunities for his spontaneous art: lying on a pavement, in what cold be a coffin-like hole, the rain fills up the basin to produce an art form of a different kind, verging on the surreal. The music of composer Fred Frith underscores this lonely, pure and transcendental meandering around the globe, a sort of spiritual trance. AS