Hollow Trees & Storybook Ruins

Amy O'Neill

At Fri Art, O’Neill evokes in fragments two tourist attractions that were once popular in the United States: "The Shrine of the Pines" and "Forest Park". "The Shrine of the Pines", located in Baldwin, Michigan, owes its existence to Raymond Overholzer, who was passionate about memorializing the great white pine. Overholzer created a collection of furniture from recycled tree parts and presented it all together in a rustic hunting lodge. "Forest Park" was a family theme park where the scenery was supposed to have been inspired by fairytales and zoos. In the 1950s, young visitors would pay a nominal fee to stroke the animals housed in dynamically colored pavilion-type buildings and cages. While paying attention to such cultural productions may suggest a form of tribute, O’Neill’s intentions are not about documenting oddly original cultural creations. Nor does she aspire to some nostalgic aim of celebrating their authenticity. Her interest lies in petrified images, within the endless struggle between nature and culture. Her work aims at recording isolated attempts at building homemade, soon-to-be-abandoned, forms of civilization. It is more about this proximity, this immediacy, between a park and a forest and at the same time the distance that separates them. Thus the odd-sounding title of the film, "Forest Park Forest Zoo", on view for the first time. Amy O’Neill’s installations are presented like scenery, and the real subject is not the one portrayed, (somewhere between rusticity and the vernacular culture). Here, nature takes revenge on the intention that briefly dominated it. Certain pieces are emblematic of this collision, one such being "Shrine Bed", which evokes a coffin dug into a tree trunk, with roots still seemingly attached to either end. In ignorance of the glorious future that plastic held out, the vacu-forms of trees turn out to be more like ghosts of themselves than casts of the pine trees that gave them their shape. The suggested scenario is one of standardization in the age of its demise. The film "Forest Park Forest Zoo" is an Anna Sanders Production made with the support of the Wexner Arts Center, Ohio, USA. It will be its very first screening.

WITH THE SUPPORT OF Loterie Romande, Coriolis Promotion, Etat de Fribourg, Office fédéral de la culture, Fondation Ernst Göhner.

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