Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time

The effect of a documentary like Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time on Goldsworthy should be profound. It serves to tell the world about a relatively obscure artist, known primarily for photographs of his work. Worse, Goldsworthy's works often disappear back in nature. Goldsworthy works with ordinary objects he finds along the river or in a field. Rocks, twigs, leaves, and ice are all used to make beautiful, otherworldly looking objects. In effect, director Thomas Riedelsheimer (Llasa) is presenting an entirely new way of viewing Goldsworthy's work, that of a work in progress.

Too frequently, artist documentaries occur after the fact, so it is difficult to see the artist at work. Not here. Riedelsheimer spent over a year following Goldsworthy around, getting to know him and filming his work. The time together clearly made Goldsworthy comfortable with a camera around, enough that he provides a sort of running commentary as to what he is doing and why. This alone is fascinating material. Another fact that comes out is that Goldsworthy is a pretty low-key guy. He's pleasant, patient, and even when his works comes crashing down (sometimes around him), he pauses for a moment, sighs, then goes right back to work. He states that he needs to feel the material in his hands; he needs to be outside making something.

Rivers and Tides is just as laid-back as Goldsworthy is, so some people may find it somewhat dull. Instead, Riedelsheimer lets the work speak for itself. The audience can feel like they are outside with Goldsworthy, watching him make his art. And what beautiful things he makes. His 'signature' work seems to be the cone, what looks like a pinecone standing on its end. He's made these around the world, near the ocean, by rivers, and in fields. Goldsworthy's work is distinct. It looks stark and beautiful and out of place, although everything in it is from the immediate area. He can take small pieces of ice and connect them together to form what looks like a snake coming through a rock.

The real beauty of Rivers and Tides is that is suits some of Goldsworthy's work especially well. The camera rolls as a string of leaves slowly floats down a river, undulating like a snake, or as a clump of dye begins dissolving in the water. It's hard to imagine what sort of justice a photograph of this can do. This art is meant to be experienced as it happens. The beauty is in watching it in its element, looking as if it is alive.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Good.
1 hour, 30 minutes, Not Rated but contains maybe one or two curse words, a PG-13 or possibly an R.

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