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They Call Me Theirs

  • Location:
    Notebaert Nature Museum Chicago, 2430 N. Cannon Dr, Chicago, Illinois, 60014, US

They Call Me Theirs addresses man’s desire to mediate the natural environment through technology. Forster’s multi-media project includes sound, sculpture, video and inkjet prints mounted on aluminum panels. By creating an audiovisual experience of the four seasons and placing them inside a rustic cabin, Forster plays with the way we have come to understand and experience nature.

The title of the work is taken from a line in the poem “Hamatreya” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, which questions man’s desire to claim ownership of the land that is inherently owned by nature. In the poem, the Earth responds, “How am I theirs, / If they cannot hold me, / But I hold them?”

Similarly, the exhibition holds a sound-insulated cabin or shrine for the viewer to enter. A handcrafted hardwood box containing a small personal monitor with images of the four seasons sits inside. Two different cacophonous soundtracks play from both the interior and exterior of the cabin, highlighting the tension between the realities of the two environments.

Exterior to the cabin is a hanging garden:
“Beckoning with its strong, curving branches, verdant foliage and draping vines of—paint? Forster extracted images of trees from her own digital film stills, then modified them manually with drips and squiggles of paint reminiscent of Jackson Pollock, before digitizing the final images and printing them on aluminum sign panels. Forster tidily encapsulates the human experience of nature in all its artificial glory. (Karen Huang, Newcity Chicago)