Hanging Garden by Osaka-born Shinji Turner-Yamamoto is one of the more amazing art installations I’ve ever seen and, if you live in Cincinnati and haven’t yet checked it out, it looks like this coming weekend is your last opportunity. Go for two reasons — the installation itself is awe-inspiring, and this is a rare chance to check out the interior of Holy Cross Church in Mt. Adams, an abandoned, deconsecrated structure that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The installation features a live tree seemingly growing out of a dead one. It’s suspended in the middle of the church interior and, on a windy afternoon, the insistent creaking made me wonder whether the walls are keeping the installation afloat, or whether the strength of the tree is keeping the walls up. I stealthily took some quick photos and, on a sunny day, the light streaming in through the windows lit up the white bark so that it appeared to glow.
Glowing tree bark, sunlight reflected in the puddle on the floor, the twinkles of the gilded pattern on the wall, the eerie creaking in the wind, the constant sound of dripping water, the gem-like ice on the floor… It was all so atmospheric and emotionally overwhelming that I’m only describing it to intrigue you enough to go and experience it for yourself.
Maybe this touched me so powerfully because I was raised Roman Catholic and, although my stubborn inner pragmatist smirks at religion, the spaces of worship still have a profound effect on me. The structure is suspended in space and also, it seems, in time. Does life hang in the balance? The installation, suggesting both weightlessness and the effect of gravity, life and death, creation and destruction, with perfect symmetry and elements of sight, sound, and smell, really needs to be experienced in person.
This installation is concurrent with Disappearances, Shinji Turner-Yamamoto’s solo exhibit at the Contemporary Arts Center in downtown Cincinnati.
I like it. But I only took photos of the building ’cause some lady said I couldn’t take pictures of the tree!
Heh, I’m either sneakier or more daring than you are, apparently!
Thanks for the write up. I have a weekend plan I’m looking forward to now!
I’d love to hear what you thought of it.
Just saw it today and it was every bit as mesmerizing as you described. The artist was actually there so I got to chat with him for a bit. He talked about the process of clearing out the space, which was being used just for storage. There were dead birds on the ground and a carpet of dust covering the ground and the stuff, along with bits of gold powder that had eroded from the walls. As he cleared, he gathered up the gold and has used it in other works. i thought about how that lovely but derelict building was now supporting the new life of his art, just like the dead tree held the living one. I saw on some literature that monks from the Ohio Buddhist Vihara chanted in the space in september. Would have loved to have been there for that…
Thanks again for mentioning this. I linked to your blog on facebook and some other friends were able to venture out to see it too.
How incredible that you got to meet the artist! I know that some of what was found in this church was used in the exhibit that’s currently at the CAC.
Today is the last day of this installation, and I’m pretty sure there’s a Buddhist closing ceremony scheduled sometime this afternoon.
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