Leaning Into The Wind Review
Leaning Into The Wind starts cryptically enough for anyone unaware of Andy Goldsworthy’s artwork. Quietly walking around the interior of an empty farm house located in rural Brazil, Goldsworthy is seen examining the hollow interior structure with serious intent. A shard of light pierces through the roof into a heavily shaded room and the sculptor is seen throwing up dirt into the crepuscular ray, almost as if attempting to communicate with the ethereal source.
While it appears to make little sense to outsiders, it’s a logic that fits his unique perception of the world around him, such are the artistic methods he uses to absorb himself into it. Goldsworthy’s work exclusively revolves around the use of natural materials, finding inspiration in the constant evolution of the surrounding landscape.
This is actually the second documentary made about the British artist, with 2001’s Rivers and Tides profiling the earlier part of his career, which was also directed by Thomas Riedelsheimer. As shown then he makes use of leaves, stone, branches, mud, snow, tree trunks or anything else stored in Mother Nature’s cupboard, transforming the visual state of the immediate environment into something spellbindedly new.
Where most of us view objects as they are, Goldsworthy sees the opportunity to create something fresh, even in its most simplistic form. A case in point would be the sharp shocks of colour he brings to a Scottish city centre with his daughter Holly. Using bright yellow, red or green elm leaves they painstakingly dampen each one before carefully laying them in a single line over the steps of a stone staircase, instantly adding a new perspective to a mundane and functional structure.
This is artwork made at the mercy of nature, where a gust of wind or rotting work materials can see an intricate construction fall apart in a matter of minutes. Yet this is all part of the process, and from the rapid decay of many hours of effort something new can be born that enables him to dig even deeper, searching for unheard stories embedded within the Earth’s underground.
Patience is a virtue, however, and Riedelsheimer’s shadowing will test many newcomers finding their way into Goldsworthy’s mind. Listening to the man himself doesn’t offer too much insight into his thinking as he struggles to capture his creative process in lucid terms. Which is not unusual for artists used to expressing themselves through a visual medium, but these cut and dry sections (of which there are quite a few) slow the pacing down considerably.
Riedelsheimer is primarily a cinematographer and puts his experience to good use with some eye-catching shots of Goldsworthy’s work set in the five locations we see him visit, namely San Francisco, St. Louis, New England, Brazil, Scotland and France. This is a documentary about an artist with an innate connection to the environment (the main image at the top of this review is Goldsworthy literally climbing across the entire length of the frame through the branches) who has his head in the clouds but his feet firmly rooted on the ground.