Friday, July 06, 2007

into the woods

I wanted to love Xanadu, Patrick Dougherty’s new installation at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, but I found myself vaguely disappointed.

Not in the sweeping forms that made up the walls and revealed the windows and doorways of this free-standing structure composed entirely of slender reeds; not in the way the rooms fold in on themselves and lead you, meandering, to the central room which pulls your gaze upward through the open dome -- it was the way he topped it off that disappointed me, and maybe a little bit of the scale, which felt too puny, too much like a playhouse, too much for the kids.

Not that I’m not into sharing, and not that I didn’t enjoy the kids running around saying chase me, chase me to their grownups; the growling and spooking and hiding and surprising in half a dozen different languages. (And thinking: isn’t that what any of us want, really, to be chased, to be wanted, to be found?)

It’s the ill-conceived dome, like a granny's topknot, that makes Dougherty’s installation (which will be at the Arboretum through the year, to experience all four of the seasons) feel like artifice, like something “brought in” instead of grown from the soil, nothing like a Goldsworthy installation, organic to the place – as ancient as it is new.

But I'll go back, and maybe it'll grow on me as the seasons change. Maybe.

Patrick Dougherty’s Xanadu
At the Morton Arboretum
4100 Illinois Route 53
Lisle, IL 60532

Patrick Dougherty’s website, »

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