RISE AND FALL: ILLUSIONS AND DELUSIONS seeks to confront various issues in this new geo political reality: The installation consists of two ‘money trees’, a universal mythological symbol. The first tree is an almost entirely defoliate autumnal bronze tree, with fallen ‘leaves’ of US Dollars, through which appears a pocket of golden mushrooms. The second part of the installation is a large octagonal ‘packing crate’, containing a silver plated bronze Cherry Tree, in full bloom, with blossoms made of Chinese banknotes. The interior panels of the crate are mirrored, creating the illusion of an eternal ‘forest’ of trees, but growing contained in sterile isolation. The installation symbolizes various ideas, including the idea of ‘Natural Capital’ that all our wealth and resources ultimately come from the Earth, the ecosystem that sustains us, and just as damage in one ecosystem will impact upon another, so it is in our globalised economy, where a crisis in one will have consequences in others. Prior to this economic maelstrom, it appears that the Western world was in thrall to greed, and the idea of “Perpetual Growth”. There were theories that we had reached ‘The End of History’, and from the financial world we were being sold the delusion that it was somehow possible to transcend the natural order of things, where all in this world is subject to an inescapable cycle of growth, death and decay. The fallen leaves beneath the tree allude to the current decline of the US economy, whilst the mushrooms signify new growth from decay.
By contrast, the Cherry Tree appears to reproduce itself infinitely, yet the blossom itself is an ephemeral symbol, and in this context is used to express the historical fact of the transience of power whereby any great nation or empire, past or present, with dreams of eternity inevitably crumble and fall. The illusion created within the crate is that of a vast repository of wealth, which is at once compelling and repelling, as the power engendered from such wealth is seen as a source of resentment and fear in some quarters of the US and Europe, as it represents changes in the current world order. The crate itself acts in two ways: both to isolate the Tree from immediate view, echoing the secretive, semi closed state of the nation, whilst also referencing the source of much of the wealth of China as a major importer, exporter and new ‘workshop of the world’.
The two sculptures are shown independent of each other, but this belies the fact that they are linked, in that they represent different stages of a life cycle, each of which is inevitable and dependent on the other.
The current New York installation will be followed by a solo exhibition of the artist’s new works in our London gallery which opens on the 26th October.