Nordic nature: light and darkness represented

”As one follows the lines drawn at the map, across the light blue surfaces, further north, twists and turns, further north, straight lines, still north. This is where I see myself, at the island furthest north, at the North End, standing at the northernmost cliff, facing the North Sea.” (Tonje Bøe Birkeland/Lumiére, from Papa Westray in Orkney Isles, 1900)

Darkness & Light contemporary Nordic photography –exhibition just opened on February 22nd at the Scandinavia House in New York City. Norwegian Tonje Bøe Birkeland’s photograph, displayed above, is part of her project that reflects how she takes on the role of fictional photographer Luelle Magdalon Lumiére (1873-1973), and recreates an imaginary journey to the Orkney Islands. Birkeland’s project travels back in time.  Her art combines photographs and texts, and she is also writing letters to Lumiére who as a traveler explored ie. western parts of Norway and New York. The artwork is an interesting dialogue between past and present, that is encompassing two life stories. Yet the images appear dreamlike hovering between fiction and reality.

Two captivating photographers in the exhibit are from Iceland. Bára Kristinsdóttir’s Hot Spots’ photography-series portray Iceland’s geothermally heated greenhouses. Her style owes to Dutch Golden Age still lifes. Her photographs play with opposites, such as light and dark, cold and hot, indoor and outdoor, natural and artificial.  Kristinsdóttir shows interest in nature photography, and so does Pétur Thomsen, another Icelandic photographer. He takes, yet, a more critically environmental stance with his works. His ‘Imported Landscape’ project is based on his visits (since 2003) to a Kárahnjúkar Hydropower Plant, a construction site on the east coast of Iceland. The artificial lake and the construction project have spoiled the biggest wild nature in Europe. Environmentalists have been fighting for the preservation of the wild nature. The voices supporting the project discuss about the need to use the energy from the nature. Thomsen’s photographic project has explored this debate, as he has documented the transformation of the landscape.

Bara Kristinsdottir - Hot Spots2(above: Bára Kristinsdóttir ‘Hot Spots’ 4, 2004 From the series Hot Spots R print, 47 1/5 x 39 1/3 in. (120 x 100 cm), courtesy of the artist)

Pétur Thomsen Imported Landscape AL3_9a(above: Pétur Thomsen ‘Imported Landscape AL3_9a’, Kárahnjúkar, Iceland, 2003 Pigment print, 43 1/3 x 55 in. (110 x 140 cm) Courtesy of the artist)

Darkness & Light: Contemporary Nordic Photography will run through April 26, 2014. The exhibition focuses on a diverse selection of recent photographic works displaying a selection of over 30 works by 10 emerging and established photographers. The artists from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, (two from each Nordic country) are:

Thora Dolven Balke, Tonje Bøe Birkeland, JH Engström, Joakim Eskildsen, Ulla Jokisalo, Bára Kristinsdóttir, Tova Mozard, Nelli Palomäki, Katya Sander, and Pétur Thomsen.

The exhibition aims to display ”the ways in which light—and the lack thereof—informs the practice of contemporary Nordic photographers. The exhibit  demonstrates the breadth and strength of Nordic photography today.”

The exhibition is organized by leading figures in the world of Nordic photographic art.

More information found on the  Scandinavia House: The Nordic Center in America’s website

Fog in art by Fujiko Nakaya

Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya’s environmental installations and fog sculptures have become widely known around the world.  According to her, fog represents an interactive medium which makes the audiences feel and participate in its pure natural wonder. Fog comes closer than clouds; although these are scientifically the same, fog calls for a different kind of dialogue with nature. The above fog sculpture by Fujiko Nakaya is at Toyota Municiple Museum of art in Toyota, Aichi.

Born in Japan, Nakaya is a daughter of the physicist and science essayist Ukichiro Nakaya, who is credited for making first artificial snowflakes in the world. Inspired by natural weather phenomena, she created her first fog sculpture for Expo ’70 (Osaka Japan) to be presented at the Pepsi Pavilion. Ever since, Fujiko Nakaya’s works have been on display on international venues, including Guggenheim Bilbao and Australian National Gallery. In 2013, her Fog Bridge became a waterfront wonder for local and international audiences in San Francisco’s Exploratorium. The work was part of the year’s waterfront celebrations, highlighting the bay area and its special weather conditions (famous for its dense fogs).

 

What makes ‘fog’ so dimensionally touching is that it as a natural phenomena varies in the circumstances. The fog sculptures live with the wind, temperature and humidity.

Nakaya’s fog has also entered theatrical stages. She created stage sets for Trisha Brown, David Tudor, and Bill Viola.

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