Pastoral Scene, Union Exhibition 2003 2003

Durant, Sam

US Historian 2002

Durant, Sam


17/09/2003 - 21/11/2003

Durant makes installations, photographs, drawings and models that cite, re-site, reflect, invert and juxtapose various cultural and political situations from the past thirty years. His output has often engaged the work of Robert Smithson, particularly his writings on entropy. Smithson himself can be seen as a figure linked emblematically to the collapse of the countercultural ambitions of the late 60s and early 70s, a theme that Durant revisits through much of his work.

Durant will present a major work entitled Upside Down: Pastoral Scene. The installation traces a variety of links and connections both within musical compositions and through the multiple symbolic meanings of the tree in American culture and history. It comprises a ‘field’ of 12 inverted tree stumps, roots uppermost, placed on mirrors. Ideas of the family tree, the tree of knowledge and the symbolic significance of the parts of a tree; roots, the trunk and branches are re-oriented in Durant?s presentation of the upside down stumps. Each stump is fitted with an audio speaker and the entire field of upside down trees is animated by a musical composition. Durant ‘composed’ a 70 minute musical narrative, which plays through the installation and ranges from Billie Holiday’s ‘Strange Fruit’ to John Lee Hooker’s ‘Blues for Abraham Lincoln’ to Public Enemy’s ‘Fear of a Black Planet. The careful selection of break-through songs, all by African American artists, creates a politically charged, social comment allowing the exploration of issues around U.S. history from slavery to civil rights struggles.

In addition to Upside Down: Pastoral Scene, Durant will present a series of large scale photographs that engage many of the installation’s themes.