Two Fantastic Exhibitions in Nordatlantens Brygge
The Arctic has many ambassadors
Silaannaq (Air) The Green Land@Inuk Silis Høegh
‘ …… The feeling that Arctic nature is eternal and unchanging, the awareness that we have these experiences and feelings in common with generations before us, the experience that we are part of something much bigger, both in space and time, yes, you almost get religious …’
– Master of Science, Bo Christiansen, KULTURINFORMATION
The title is an allusion to the current discussion about who can be a suitable ambassador or representative for the Arctic. With ambassadors we usually think of diplomats who represent a country’s political and economic interests. But there are also other more unofficial ambassadors. For example, artists who are inspired by and present nature and thereby build bridges between nature and man, between nature and culture. Nordatlantens Brygge (The North Atlantic House) is holding two exciting exhibitions this summer, both of which are inspired by and present the Arctic nature. A film installation about a green Greenland and a group of Icelandic artists’ subtle play with modern wreckage from the country’s coasts.
Both exhibitions are found in Nordatlantens Brygge, a beautifully restored old warehouse on Nordatlantens Brygge, and can be experienced until September 10th, 2023. The two exhibitions are quite different, so they each get their own review.
Arctic Creatures ✮✮✮✮✮
Intriguing play with modern wrecks from Iceland’s coasts
Three artists, visual artist Hrafnkell Sigurðsson, film director and screenwriter Óskar Jónasson and actor and theater director Stefán Jónsson, obviously good friends, all in their early sixties, have over the past ten years created a series of pictures and sculptures and together carried out an imaginative, funny and thought-provoking play with modern driftwood and wreckage collected on Iceland’s shores. Individually, these pieces of nylon fishing nets, plastic buoys in worn and faded colors, fish boxes, remnants of seaweed, dead fish and birds and pieces of real driftwood, would be sad and ugly. Trash. Lost at sea or thrown out on purpose. But here, artistically gifted people have gathered them into provocative, funny and thought-provoking installations. The three friends represent the naked man and the garbage represents nature and the sea.
The Betrayal, 2020_©Arctic Creatures
Garbage as art
The three friends set up their art installations with their own bodies dressed in all sorts of trash found on the beach, fishing nets, plastic and driftwood. Several of the works refer to well-known works of art, others just look similar or have titles that seem recognizable. Poseidon’s Throne, Ophelia, Heart of Stone, a masculine version of the Little Mermaid, a bicycle built from wreckage, or a model of one of the simplest organic molecules, alcohol.
Garbage as nature
In a series of tableaus or scenarios, they are telling short recognizable stories, scenarios that investigate or exhibit a number of themes. First of all, the contrast between nature and man, which precisely meets in our waste. Waste that is actually on its way back to nature. Dissolution and decay. But much of our waste takes quite a long time to break down and be re-absorbed in nature, and perhaps we can learn to recycle it. And that is exactly what our three Icelandic friends do. Recycle waste and turn it into art. Along the way, they also tell about friendship and traveling and raise some thought-provoking questions.
Plastic Warfare, 2017©Arctic Creatures
In the midst of all the sad rubbish, this exhibition manages to be life-affirming. The exhibition deserves to be spent time immersing oneself. Examining the interaction between nonsense and seriousness. Thinking about our relationship with nature. Imagine if we could outlive our own garbage.
Pose-Done, 2022/2023©Arctic Creatures
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The Green Land ✮✮✮✮✮
Inuk Silis Høegh presents a green Greenland
There is an old description of a Greenlandic hunter who poetically expresses his admiration for the magnificent nature in which he roams. He ends by declaring that one day when he is no more, others will see and experience the same and feel exactly the same fascination.
Most people who have ventured out into the Greenlandic nature have experienced the same thing. The feeling that Arctic nature is eternal and unchanging, the awareness that we have these experiences and feelings in common with generations before us, the experience that we are part of something much bigger, both in space and time, yes, you almost get religious.
Issoq (Earth) The Green Land@Inuk Silis Høegh
Eternal … and changing
But human intervention and climate change are disrupting this timeless grandeur. What are we doing to the Arctic? Will future generations be able to experience the same as us? The artist and film director Inuk Silis Høegh examines man’s relationship with nature in a beautiful, thought-provoking and disturbing visual and sound narrative.
The film has neither beginning nor end. In a cycle of 34 minutes, we are led through the four elements, earth, water, air and fire, each represented by different Land Art installations. The color green is used as a general theme. It visualizes nature, growth and hope, as when we see the grass in the fjords around Nuuk and Maniitsoq, where the film was shot. Inuk places large cubes of peat around the landscape, dwells on roots, surfaces and zooms out, so we get the big picture. But the green can also symbolize something poisonous and sick, especially when the color unexpectedly sneaks into the lingering, meditative description of nature.
Imeq (Water) The Green Land@Inuk Silis Høegh
We follow the melting of the ice and the course of the water is made clear with green color extracted from seaweed. The movement of the air is emphasized with green smoke blowing through and over a mountain landscape. And as darkness falls, we experience green fire in the landscape, reminiscent of the northern lights.
Never has the Greenlandic landscape looked more Icelandic. It is not the Greenlandic nature as we usually see it. If you have already been there, then you have your own inner images, which will be brought to life and mixed with the impressions Inuk’s film installation evokes.
The sounds of nature
The sound side is exceptional. The sound artist Jacob Kirkegaard has created fantastic sound effects of melting ice, trickling water, crackling fire, even the rocks produce sounds. This sound, rumbling, scraping, near the deepest notes we humans can perceive, together with the echo of trickling meltwater creates a deep meditative rumble, an earthquake in slow motion. Beautiful, soothing and disturbing at the same time. For me, it reminded me of the sound installation found in the recently built Isfjordscenter in Ilulissat – enjoy Bo Christiansens review here, where you hear the sound of glaciers in motion. Each glacier also has its own special sound profile.
Where do we fit in?
The cyclic process leads the thought to both creation and destruction. And even though there are no people or human traces in this film, it is obvious to meditate on our own place in the great whole.
Inneq (Fire) The Green Land@Inuk Silis Høegh
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Two Fantastic Exhibitions in Nordatlantens Brygge is written by Master of Science, Bo Christiansen, KULTURINFORMATION
Redaktion: Jesper Hillestrøm