Jacob Galle is an artist and a farmer whose work draws on both practices as a means of exploring the aesthetic and social implications of farming, logging, and other forms of manual labor. At a time when digital information threatens to overtake our first-hand perceptions and experience of the world, Galles art gently and persuasively draws our attention to the essential yet often misunderstood and marginalized role of physical labor, which even in the
Information Age continues to serve our most basic needs for food, shelter, and transportation, while also providing us with unique insights from the front lines of our environmental policies.
Galles site-specific installation, Timbered [pitch], is a contemplative exploration of these issues, as reflected in the wooded landscape. Comprised of a roomful of younger pine trees that appear to be floating five feet above the gallery floor, Timbered [pitch] is an installation that is meant to raise our awareness by putting us, in the artists own words, in a place we never get to be.
Originally harvested to clear pastureland on Galles family farm in Bowdoinham, Maine, and repurposed as a work of art, the trees implicit record of the labor involved in their cutting and relocation (as well as the imagined space theyve left behind) is an intentional aspect of the piece and just one of many echoes and implications stemming from it.
While our initial impression of Galles installation might be fascinating, disorienting, disturbing, and calming all at the same time, its a mixture of emotions that signals our often conflicted relationship to the natural world. Whatever thoughts, memories, values, or impressions we might bring to it, Timbered [pitch] is an artwork that distills and brings into focus one of our most cherished and primordial experiences; the forest as a place of shelter and of solace, yet also oneas in fables, myths, films, and fairy talesthat can be as sinister and dreadful as it is nurturing and Edenic.
On view from mid-April through early July, Timbered [pitch] functions as a time-based piece as well, as the trees will inevitably brown and very likely drop their needles, with the gradual accumulation on the floor below them serving as a visual record of passing time. Heightening this effect is the conscious relationship of Galles installation to the exterior courtyard just outside the gallery windows, in which trees that similarly occupy a room-like space will be coming into bloom and producing foliage even as the trees inside the gallery are losing theirs.
Delightful, fascinating, and readily appealing at first glance, yet surprisingly nuanced and multi- layered upon reflection, Timbered [pitch], like all of Galles art, is a provocative yet unpolemical look at the state of nature and the fruits of our labors--as well as their consequences--within it.
As suggested by the wordplay in its title, Timbered [pitch] is also about the sounds of the forest and what they can tell us about the state of the landscape and our place within it. A sound recording of the wind whispering through old growth pine trees, made in Bowdoinham, Maine, emanates from the treetops at one end of the gallery. By contrast, a video of the artist walking through variously forested and deforested landscapes in the Pacific Northwest, projected on a wall at the opposite end of the space, captures the sound of the wind whistling through cleared forestland in a way that poignantly reflects an alternative approach to land use. Coleman Burke Gallery