Fieldwork brings together artists who all share a particular relationship to nature, by working on site, in direct relation to it. Whether it is on the seashore of Dunwich, England, on the chalky cliffs of Öland, in the southern Polish countryside, in America’s Yellowstone National Park, on the road from Iraqi Kurdistan to Europe, in the forests of northern Sweden, on the frontline in Mosul, by the Black Sea in Turkey, the Red Sea in Jordan or on a Grand Tour in Germany and Switzerland – the artists use the landscape as a means or a backdrop to unfolding tales.
As artists working on the ground, with the field as their studio, their artistic methods vary – walking, recording, documenting, painting in open air, performing, using archaeological tools, organs and senses.
For Jessica Warboys, Gustaf Nordenskiöld and Francis Alÿs their method is a physical act, engaging directly with the landscape through acts of dragging, pressing or achieving other types of imprints by nature making its mark on the work. All three artists combine painting with performative action, letting their work more or less become records of their own creation.
Others, like Axel Kargel and Spencer Finch instead focus on the impressions of a landscape. It is not necessarily about depicting what is before one’s eyes, but rather a recollection of sensory perceptions. They attempt to see what others have seen and to share that experience.
Fredrik Söderberg’s and Hiwa K’s work deal with personal and collective memories of geographies and places. On very different missions, they both embark on a journey through Europe. One is a simultaneously internal and physical journey through both culture and actual nature. The other a reflection on the possibilities and impossibilities of remembering and how one documents memory.
There are also works which engage politically with the history of places, such as that of Alicja Rogalska or Francis Alÿs. Rogalska’s work highlights concerns affecting communities in the Polish countryside, while on the front line of war, Alÿs reflects over the artist’s role as a witness.
On the island of Öland, Ebba Bohlin, Henrik Andersson and Emanuel Cederqvist have been following the traces of things and events once present in the landscape and now lost or abandoned, while Morten Norbye Halvorsen has been listening and recording nature’s architecture of reverberations.
In the exhibition all these approaches to the landscape intertwine and blend and may allow for new perspectives, filtered through the lens of nature.
Photo: detail from the making of Sea Painting, Summer, Dunwich, England, 2020 courtesy Jessica Warboys