Branch Prop, 1975 Chateau de Pourtalés, Strasbourg, France
From 1975 - 88 most of my work consisted of temporary outdoor/indoor installation work. Usually the pieces lasted no longer that a month.
Branch Prop was the first of a series of temporary works utilizing fallen tree limbs. Created in Strasbourg, France in 1975. It was my first attempt in combining, process, performance and object-making in one piece. The pieces inspired by fallen tree limbs I found in the woods surrounding the Chateau where I had a studio. I was particularly interested in the forms created by the limbs that had fallen and had become tangled in other branches above the ground. At first I just gathered the branches and "propped" them against each other, trying to re-create some of the shapes I had see in the trees. After hours of various attempts I decided that I would use the tripod form to make strong free-standing pieces. I found a clearing at the edge of the woods about a half-mile from the rear of the Chateau; (all of the structures were made at that location) I would build a piece at the clearing, then move the piece furthest away forward 30' - then move the next forward, replacing that piece, and so on, until I once again had a clear spot to build another. I built about 5 or 6 pieces a day. About two weeks into the piece someone took it upon him/herself to totally dismantle the entire piece and... well, I never found any traces of the wood so I assume it became firewood somewhere. With the final performance/closing party already announced by hundreds of silk-screened posters plastered all over Strasbourg I immediately began rebuilding the piece. Starting over at the original site, I replaced all the "lost" pieces. This time I used jute to tie the pieces together - making them easier to move and harder to take apart. Over the next two weeks I continued building pieces and marching them toward the front of the chateau . Once I reached the front of the chateau all building stopped and I then moved all the pieces forward and into the grand ballroom of the chateau. The pieces lined the walls, were stacked on top of each other totally filling the space. A few of the lager pieces remained outside in the field in front of the building. A closing performance took place which included a improv jazz performance by a local band using the some of the larger tree limbs as percussion instruments. Special thanks to Ken Leonard, he dragged lots of wood and helped in moving many of the pieces.