Sarah Wood: Project Paradise


Sarah Wood works with found documentary images to interrogate the relationship between the narrating of history and individual memory. For Fruitmarket, she made a film inspired by the Black and White Oil Conference organised by Richard Demarco in Edinburgh in 1974 at which Joseph Beuys and Buckminster Fuller both spoke. The conference took place in the context of the imminent exploitation of oil and natural gas in the North Sea. It posed a number of questions and made observations frighteningly relevant now as we try to find ways to combat climate change, mitigate its ravages and keep fossil fuels underground.

Demarco asked: ‘Can the experience of art help? Can the artist play a role? Can the artist make sacred the land and the waters around the Scottish coasts so that they will not be exploited? Have we a visionary artist who can do for Scotland what Constable did for England and make sacred what is called landscape country, and no doubt safe, for the moment anyway, from the hands of developers?’

50 years on, Wood’s film examined the idea of Paradise as a way of talking about how we relate to nature now as often something simply to commodify. She argued that our current panic about resources is about the end of an era rather than the end of the planet. Instead the film invited viewers to open up thought and imagine how we might want to live in the future. Projected as a portal into the floor of the warehouse, Project Paradise invited midwinter audiences to gather round the light of the image and come together as participants in the reimagining of a new way of living in the world.


Download the accompanying text by Ali Smith


Images: Tom Nolan and Kate Livingstone


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