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Starting with “politics”—the first of its three organizing themes—the exhibition examines works that take a political approach to the forest and nature. Germany’s Joseph Beuys’s lithograph Save the Woods (1972) anchors a contemporary collection of works—by An-My Le (Vietnam), Rosemary Laing (Australia) and Collier Schorr (U.S.), and Zwelethu Mthethwa (South Africa), among others—that look at issues of war, nuclear threat, colonialism, industrialization, and deforestation.
“Poetics” investigates the psychological, mythical, spiritual, and literary aspects of the forest, inspired by the Grimms’ fairy tales, Celtic mythology, and European ghost stories. Among the artists showcased are Kiki Smith (U.S.), Wim Wenders (Germany), Yang FuDong (China), Petah Coyne (U.S.), and Paloma Varga Weisz (Germany). “Practice” focuses on artists who are actively engaged with issues of ecology. The exhibition marks the premiere of a webcam project by pioneering media artist Wolfgang Staehle. Other artists include Simon Starling (U.K.), Alan Sonfist (U.S.), and Carsten Holler (Germany).
The Forest is cosponsored by the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences at Duke University.
Kathleen Goncharov is Adjunct Curator of Contemporary Art at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. She was U.S. Commissioner to the 50th Venice Biennale in 2001, Public Art Curator at MIT, and Curator of the University Art Collection at the New School, New York.