Cairns

Last week’s post about The Life Cairn to be built at the 2013 Uncivilization Festival was sparked by a conversation about discovering Cairns in the desert of Arizona. I had seen them before and not given them much notice but out in the desert one could not help but be stopped in your tracks when encountering one. Cairns have a fascinating history which you can read about here. They were and are markers for fellow travelers on hiking trails and have been used as decorative and ceremonial monuments among other things.

Chris Corrigan who is an Open Space facilitator uses a variant form of Cairns, balancing rocks, as a meditative device. He leaves his work at many places he has traveled.

Chris Corrigan

 

 

Click on the photo to the left to see more examples

 

 

 

 

The ultimate rock balancer / Cairn builder though is Andy Goldsworthy, an environmental sculptor who works with a variety of materials found in the wild. His commisioned work and other projects include building Cairns in various parts of the world.

In 2001, a documentary was made about Goldsworthy – ‘Rivers and Tides’. It captures the risk and fragility of his work. It reminds me of the Buddhist concept of the impermanent nature of everything. Some of his work only lasts a few hours. He is willing to explore the creative interaction with natural elements in order to take the chance that what he is trying to assemble will be successful. He does not always succeed.

Watch the full documentary below

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