An article about this wonderful artist in today’s Financial Review Magazine reminds me how special are her creations. The first work of hers that I ever saw has stayed with me in dream images (both day and night) ever since: birds nests made from shredded US dollars.
These images are re-captured for me in Thailand whenever I catch sight of yet another extraordinary, but real, bird’s nest – constructed with its tiny entrance tunnel from beneath into a rotund protected home – a work of natural art.
There is a beauty in watching the birds build, slowly and deliberately, straw by straw. This care and perfection results in each nest becoming a uniquely beautiful temporary home. So too Fiona Hall’s creations. Her painstaking build of each work is derived from deeply felt concerns and needs. There is an aesthetic beauty that results from the conceptual function that is as mysterious as the forms and patterns of nature.
Her description (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_-3d75ZItg) of how her choice of media – (ie her materials: sardine tins, video tape etc.) – have often become obsolete soon after a work is completed is portentous in the case of these birds nests. Here she used the US$ and jokingly said that, “colour was added to the green-back shortly after…”
However perhaps her work was more in tune with the cosmos than she imagined! The shredding of the dollar bills seems to have been prophetic of the 2008 financial disaster. American debt has indeed shredded the dollar. Will the $ now cease to be the world’s reserve currency? Perhaps when future generations look back on the demise of the American Empire – they will take the Birds Nest installation as symbolic.
I conclude that the quasi-meditative, fully devoted and engaged process of creation is the only thing that gives true power and impact to art; and perhaps it is similarly the only way that life can be fully lived.