Elisa Bracher (1965 - )

Untitled (1999-2000)

Angelim wood
height: 580cm
width: 195cm

Donated by Elisa Bracher and Marilia Razuk 2000


Elisa Bracher began to work with wood in the 1990s, creating small works with old, recycled furniture before producing a series of monumental sculpture. An example of this series is this untitled work, located on the Colchester campus of the University of Essex overlooking the Albert Sloman Library. Bracher makes such sculpture by sawing the bark off whole tree trunks with a chainsaw: creating faceted columns. The columns are then joined with dovetails and large metal bolts. The final sculpture is supported by its own propped configuration, keeping itself upright by the force of its own weight. While the bolts appear to reassuringly pin the propped trunks together in their upright position, their function is also aesthetic: conjoining the individual trunks into an integral whole. The use of a chainsaw places the artist's hand at a distance, giving this sculpture the appearance of an industrial rather than a crafted form. At the same time, the use of an entire trunk gives the work an unavoidably tree-like presence.

The wood ages; each work takes on a different hue according to climatic conditions (and the sculpture situated at Essex immediately drew the attentions of a woodpecker). While the work is not a natural form, it acquires something of the timeless, always-there resonance of an ancient tree: a sense of rootedness that prevents it from being merely extraneous public sculpture.

Bracher pays close attention to how people respond to these works in the different places in which they are situated and encountered. While some passers-by have greeted the presence of monumental sculpture in the urban squares of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro with surprise, others seem to blithely accept them, as if they had always been there. A case in point was the coconut seller who - as Bracher witnessed - nonchalantly nailed his cardboard sign to the work placed in Rio's busy Praça XV, as if it were a handy tree or telegraph post.

Isobel Whitelegg, 2008

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