Friday, 5 September 2014

Is it worth considering whether Joseph Beuy's theory of Dutch Light could be transposed onto the regional landscape of the lower mainland? Beuys lamented the loss of a particular type of light that had historically reflected off the Zuyder Zee in Holland. The fracturing of the luminescent "mirror" that redirected sunlight off the sea and into sky was due to the installation of marine structures along the Dutch coastline in the 1950's to thwart erosion and flooding. The brilliant quality of this light was beloved by landscape artists who infused their work with the azure blues and puffy ivory clouds that often grace paintings we readily identify as "Dutch". As debatable as Beuy's theory is- whether Dutch Light is specific to Holland, or whether it has in fact been threatened due to development- it gives rise to a larger question which is whether this is merely an effect of a specific maritime geography, and if so, does it exist along a coastline such as Vancouver's? Intuitively I think the vast array of water features here creates pockets of aquatic light that simulate the Dutch effect. While muddy in hue there are Fraser River tributaries, but there is also the sea, the humidity that mountain lakes and streams produce, and pristine mountain reservoirs along the north shore which all contribute to some form of collective reflection. Such light has arguably framed the landscape photography of Jeff Wall, Rodney Graham, Stan Douglas and a host of street photographers in much the same way that Dutch Light infused the work of van Ruisdael, van Goyen and Vermeer.

No comments: