Michael Dawson Gallery is pleased to present Viewing Platforms, a photographic installation by internationally known artist Kaucyila Brooke. Commissioned by the Kunstverein Springhornhof in Northern Germany, Viewing Platforms examines the individual and temporary use of the architecture of "high stands" or "hunting towers" in the environment surrounding the small village of Neuenkirchen.
Viewing Platforms relates to the visual interrogation of what Brooke describes as "the natural," a concept that appears in many of her previous projects, including Vitrinen in Arbeit (2001-2005) and Burned... (1998-99). All of these projects are consistent with and inspired by Brooke's ongoing curiosity about how photographs of nature are constructed and framed historically. Brooke's use of the landscape as theatrical backdrop addresses the issue of land as a culturally determined social space; the landscape becomes a site for dialectical engagement rather than a transparent document of Nature.
The high stands are part of a system of wildlife management that has existed in Northern Germany for centuries. The German hunter leases the land from the farmer and installs his high stands near the fields. Typically these high stands are placed at the edge of the tree lines for camouflage and to view the game as they cross the open space of the fields. The hunter is responsible for controlling the game population so they do not destroy the crops. If for example the deer, rabbits, or wild boar become overpopulated and damage the crops, the hunter must pay a fine and reimburse the farmer for the loss of income. Although some local entrepreneurs do make and sell the stands, these hunting towers are usually designed and built by the individual hunters, and they range in size and complexity - some have doors and windows, some have shutters and carpeted interiors, and some are completely open, without roof or walls for shelter. To shoot their targets, hunters spend the night and early morning hours staring out of the viewing windows, waiting with gun at hand for any movement of their target that is visible from this vantage point.
For this installation of Viewing Platforms, Brooke has produced two large-scale color photographs of different high stands. The stands are photographed at a relatively close distance in order to recognize details, and from a low angle, emphasizing the monumentality and ominous quality of the architecture. Each photograph is accompanied by an un-edited video of the landscape with ambient sound, shot from the interior of the same high stand. Specially constructed benches are located in the gallery to encourage viewers to take the time to let the landscape appear slowly before their view. The videos show the landscape and its continuously changing light, the movement of the clouds, or the grass shimmering in the wind. The installation also includes four large photo montages presenting panoramas of other high stands found in the area as well as views from the interior of the towers.