“You must live life forwards but you can only understand it backwards.” These words from Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkergaard, are central to David Barr’s Stockade Labyrinth. From the first encounter, as viewed from the path, the work provokes a wealth of emotion and thought. Each seems independent at the moment of experience but becomes related when the journey through the work is completed.
There is the forbidding stockade, like those built by advancing Europeans to separate the worlds of immigrant and indigenous people. The words within the walls are French, the language of Marquette, Cadillac, Jolliet and LaSalle. The images, such as the hand, a horse pulling a plow and a soaring eagle, each reflect on the impact, both physical and spiritual, of human kind on nature’s abundance. The viewer can pause at “dead-end stations” pondering war, trapping, mining, farming and spiritual quests on the way to the overlook platform. Here is another maze, one that, when followed to its center, brings us to the exact spot of Michigan Legacy Art Park on the globe. Finally, the view… forests, not as they were but as we have made them, DNR managed plantations for renewal and production of lumber.