THRESHOLD

Threshold is a site-specific video installation that was originally commissioned by the American Writers Museum in Chicago. The video was shot entirely in and around a small room that the poet W.S. Merwin built for meditation in the middle of his palm garden in Maui.  This garden, which Merwin has described as “a garden that aspires to be a forest”, was planted tree-by-tree by Merwin and his late wife Paula.  They planted the garden on land that had been formally classified as “wasteland” due to the poor soil management of colonial plantations. It is now one of the most species-rich and abundant palm gardens in the world. The video alternates between the sounds of the garden-forest and the sound of Merwin reading poems that he composed in that place. The video is seen on a narrow band of the wall, as if looking through a window onto a different world. The installation elements consist of an obvious imitation of Merwin’s garden itself, including the same palms that are seen in the video, In this way, the video representation of the garden seems more vibrant than real plants which surround the viewer.  The installation  is  a  meditation  on  the  sort of  wakefulness  that  Merwin  embodies  in  his  work  and  also  in  his  life.  The title is taken from one of Merwin’s poems in which he writes, “all that I did not know went on beginning all around me.”