Documentaries: Leaning Into The Wind: Andy Goldsworthy (2017) - Reviewed

Dawn reviews Leaning into the Wind

For centuries, Buddhists have engaged in the spiritual ritual of the mandala offering. Traditionally made with colored sand, the mandala is a work of art containing geometric shapes that simultaneously represent a palace containing a deity and the entirety of the universe. Although these works of art are quite beautiful, the end product is not the objective. Through the slow and patient act of pouring the sand into perfect geometric shapes, the mandala acts as a meditative vessel, and serves as an invitation to enter the bigger perceptual world, reminding its creator of the infinite space that links the internal and external.

Like the mandala, the ephemeral works of artist Andy Goldsworthy are an exploration of the connection between the organic world and his internal perceptions. Working only with natural materials, Goldsworthy creates three-dimensional sculptures, that emphasize contrasting colors and repetition, which he uses to find meaning with both, the events taking place in his life, and the surrounding external world.

Sixteen years after his first film on the artist, Rivers and Tides (2001), director Thomas Riedelsheimer’s Leaning Into The Wind catches up with the artist for a second round of observational documentary filmmaking. However, unlike the first film, which focuses more on the details of his creative process, Leaning Into The Wind concentrates on the emotional landscape that Andy Goldsworthy expresses through his work.

Having already created one film that focuses on observing the artist’s method specifics, Riedelsheimer now appears to have an intuitive understanding of Goldsworthy’s mind and uses his stunningly beautiful cinematography to translate this intuition to the audience seamlessly. Viewers are woven in and out of Andy’s inner emotional spaces, as he speaks of major events and relationships in his life, and how they relate to specific fallen trees, leaf colors, or rock formations. Soundscapes ranging from ambient to something approaching Lars Von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark (2000) further enrich this intuitive link between artist, filmmaker and viewer, creating a nonverbal dance of the senses.

Simultaneously, if you are someone who is interested in learning about art but has no background in the subject, Leaning Into The Wind is a great place to start. The way Andy Goldsworthy describes his work, and his feelings surrounding its creation, can give a novice viewer insight into the creative process. Like the mandala, the artist uses his materials and the process to learn something, or express something, and it is the learning through expression that supersedes the end result.

Serene and meditative, Leaning Into The Wind is a visual and auditory journey through the beauties of the natural world and it’s ability to connect to something deep inside of us. It is an emotional step off of the everyday path and will open a doorway allowing the audience to feel and see the world through Andy Goldsworthy’s eyes, whose art will never let you look at your surroundings the same way again.

-Dawn Stronski