Lynne Marsh, Builders: Canadian Biennial 2012

By: Lynne Marsh and Jonathan Shaughnessy

National Gallery of Canada, 2012

Lynne Marsh, Builders: Canadian Biennial PDF (139 KB)

Plänterwald was filmed on the site of a former GDR amusement park built in 1969 and abandoned after reunification. Its rollercoaster and ferris wheel sit motionless at the edge of the city of Berlin. After being closed to the public for almost a decade, the rides and fairground structures – once providing a distraction from everyday realities – are left to a gradual process of decay and overgrowth. Paradoxically this derelict site is patrolled and protected by security guards who attempt to maintain its separation from the public sphere and contemporary life as they situate it in the present social and economic conditions. The video stages a journey in, over and through this delimited park evoking the exceptional conditions of its persistent existence. Positioning the security guards as the guardians of a “dead” space, the work plays on the absurdities of the use of force and the notion of property in relation to the decay and obsolescence of the site. Plänterwald explores a world held together by an internal logic and quietly, yet relentlessly – like the defunct rollercoaster – echoes the potentially explosive rumbles of deep social and political fault lines.

Curator’s Statement

Through her work, Marsh examines the role architecture plays in the creation of meaning, focusing her lens on culturally and historically loaded spaces and terrain. Plänterwald was originally commissioned for the 5th Manif d’art 5 Québec City Biennial in 2010. Discarded, but clearly not forgotten, Plänterwald park suggests an enduring power of the past and points to that which lingers below the surface of social status quo. Plänterwald is the first work by Lynne Marsh to enter the collection and strengthens the museum’s holdings of contemporary female artists associated with Quebec. The video resonates with other works in the collection that explore architectural relics of the not-so-distance past including Montreal artist Pascal Grandmaison’s videos Soleil Différé (2010) and British filmmaker Tacita Dean’s Fernseturm (2001). As an exploration of failed or neglected political concepts, Marsh’s work also resonates with numerous sculptures in the Gallery’s holdings including Damian Moppett’s Endless Rustic Skateboard Park (Bacchic Peasant Version) (2002); Alex Morrison’s Provisional Structure (2007) and The Poetics of Grey (no. 4) (both 2004); and Hadley + Maxwell’s multifaceted installation 1+1-1 (2007–09).

Jonathan  Shaughnessy