High marks for ‘highwatermarks’ at BRM

Dylan Gauthier, film still from highwatermarks, 2017, 4k video installation, dimensions: 60' x 10', r/t: 70m

When you think of the Brandywine River, you might imagine canoeists making their way downstream, or children frolicking in the water on a hot day or the beautiful vistas that surround it.

You don’t immediately think of mushroom houses, or other industry, or of drinking water for the city of Wilmington.

Yet the creator of Brandywine River Museum’s first video installation looks at its namesake river as a connector, drawing viewers along the Brandywine Watershed over four seasons and showcasing images of a river that has touched the lives of so many.

“The video is at once a portrait of place, the Brandywine River region, and an ethnographic portrait of the community of people who live there, use the river and find themselves drawn to it,” said the museum’s first artist-in-residence, Dylan Gauthier.

His exhibit, highwatermarks, runs now through Jan. 7. Gauthier will discuss his exhibit and his findings during his residency in a Nov. 1 lecture.

“Brandywine means many things to many different people; this film intends to share a little bit from each of them to each of them,” Gauthier said in a press release.

The 70-minute video plays in a loop on the third floor of the museum on 60-foot-long floor-to-ceiling screens that covers two walls. The room is bare except for six wooden benches designed and built by the artist spaced at intervals. The only sounds are the ones that Gauthier recorded over the course of a year – the gurgling of the river, the hum of equipment at a composting site, the shuffling of a goat, the music of insects.

The scenes encompass the four seasons along the Brandywine and include video so realistic it’s hard to imagine you are not right there.

One scene shows a close-up of a black frog and a tiny fly crawling across its body. Another scene shows an exterior of a composting operation, with liquid bubbling on the ground. Yet another scene shows the water rushing over rocks.

“It felt like the images were unique to the area,” said Gauthier, a Brooklyn-based artist.

He shot the scenes with a small tripod unit and also used a small boat – on display at the museum – to take some shots but also to ferry him to locations.

When Gauthier was finished, he had more than 1,000 hours of video and spent weeks editing it down to the finished 70-minute piece, said Thomas Padon, the James H. Duff Director of the museum. The highwatermarks exhibit was unique for the museum in that it brought the state of the river to life, showcasing protection efforts on the big screen.

“He definitely didn’t sugarcoat the river,” Padon said, watching video footage first of a mushroom house and then of people cooling off in the river. “This is what the Brandywine is to some people (recreation). To others it’s industry, and to others, it’s a good view.”

For more information about the exhibit or about the Brandywine River Museum, go online at www.brandywinemuseum.org.

If You Go:

Dylan Gauthier: highwatermarks
Now through Jan. 7, 2018
Brandywine River Museum, Route 1, Chadds Ford
Admission: $18 adults; $15 seniors (65 and over); $6 students and children 6-18; free for children 5 and younger and conservancy and museum members. Free first Sunday of the month.
Information: 610-388-2700
On the Web: brandywinemuseum.org





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About Monica Fragale

Monica Thompson Fragale is a freelance reporter who spent her life dreaming of being in the newspaper business. That dream came true after college when she started working at The Kennett Paper and, years later The Reporter newspaper in Lansdale and other dailies. She turned to non-profit work after her first daughter was born and spent the next 13 years in that field. But while you can take the girl out of journalism, you can’t take journalism out of the girl. Offers to freelance sparked the writing bug again started her fingers happily tapping away on the keyboard. Monica lives with her husband and two children in Kennett Square.



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