A Path in the Forest

Artist: Tetsuo Kondo
Location: Kadriorg Park, Tallin, Estonia
Year of completion: 2011
Researcher: Giusy Checola

Kadriorg (Catherine’s Valley) is a quiet area, established by tsar Peter the Great in the early 1700s, around an estate and a public park that consists of 300 years old trees. The area is located in the center of Tallinn, near the Old Town, the cornerstone of national and international tourism. Nearby the Japanese Garden, architect Tetsuo Kondo created a path of 95 meters which relies on the forest as it flutters through the woods, by changing its perception when walking along it.

The artwork has been commissioned by LIFT 11 Urban Intervention Festival in the frame of Tallinn European Capital of Culture 2011, whose goal was that of creating a Tallinn's new image, not viewed as merely as a post-communist city but as place both medieval and contemporary, by linking the image of the thriving period of Hanseatic League, when Tallinn was trading stopover on the maritime route connecting Western Europe with Russia, and that of a safe, clean and hi-tech Nordic city.

A Path In The Forest brought the audience to look at the park and the surroundings from a new perspective, and it did it during the autumn, when nature was changing.The artwork stimulated a feeling of symbiosis between visitors and the nature which our life is interdependent of, since the trees were physically a part of this architecture and without those trees the path could not stand.

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The spiritual and physical regeneration stimulated by the artwork's experience recalled the role that the place played in the early development of Estonia's spa culture. In 1813 Doctor Benedikt Georg Witte established what would be the first seaside resort of the Russian Empire. In the same way, the forms of the installation reminded the baroque virtuosity of the Old Palace and the park, designed by architect Nicola Michetti from Rome between 1718 and 1729. According to the main aim of LIFT 11, Kondo's suspended ramp prevented the authenticity of the old quarter from being undermined by the pressure of tourism, by combining the existential reflection with the sense of the place as the outcome of cultural stratifications.

One of the Tallinn 2011's objectives was that of internationalize the local cultural scene against a kind of cultural conservatism highlighted by European Capital of Culture's previews research, by promoting transnational co-operation that helped to create links with artists in other countries.

Actually the guide theme of Tallinn 2011's program entitled “Stories of the seashore” had replaced the former one ("Folklore and fairytales") under the request of Ministry of Culture, because it risked not offering a sufficiently strong European dimension and being mainly of national and local relevance. But actually, according to the Final Report for the European Commission published by the researching and consulting company Ecorys, the program didn't really change.

Looking like both a limitless carousel and an endless path to nowhere for its impressive dimension and its surreal lightness, the Kondo's installation responded equally to the local need for fairytales' narrative, to the implementation of transnational cooperation, and to the global need to make closer the human beings more sensitive about the nature as living organism, with which we need to establish a relation of co-evolution. The artist created a place for elevating physically and emotionally the body and the spirit, and, at the same time, he reminded us the transiety of our existence.

A Path In The Forest by Japanese architect Tetsuo Kondo, was created on commission and its preparations were started only in early June, by which time clear visions of other festival works had already been achieved. Hence the curators’ idea to complement the whole with an architectural installation of a fascinating structure creating a new, poetic spatial experience in conjunction with the surrounding park environment. Like other works of LIFT11, A Path In The Forest brought the audience to where people rarely go: to a walk above the ground amidst the trees, looking at the park and the surroundings from a different angle. The installation was completed in the autumn, inviting people to perceive how nature was changing, how the trees were changing colour and eventually dropping their leaves altogether. The 95-metre white metal pathway meandering between the trees was supported by a bent steel pipe, which stood by itself, only slightly leaning against the living trees.

Locations for the other public artworks of LIFT11 were evidently finds of the local artists. For Kondo, who is a Tokyoite, Tallinn’s Kadriorg Park, created in an international design language by non-locals, was the suitable installation venue. His work became site-specific by how the author read the location, sensing its distinctness and ambience.

All copyright belongs to Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, Shanghai University.

Progress Agency