The Great Indoors: monologue with a mountain
(© Jean Hubert)
The natural landscape must be one of the most ubiquitous themes in art history. Artists have been depicting natural scenes for centuries, in a great variety of styles. Contemporary artists may be less inclined to maintain that tradition, but they still remained fascinated by nature. As can be seen in the exhibition “The Great Indoors” that Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk has put together at the invitation of Motive Gallery.
The exhibition looks at how we relate to nature and representations of it. In Some Plants Grow Protected by Their Image, for example, Fran Meana presents a photograph of a plant that leans at an angle against one of the gallery walls. Behind the photo is a similar plant, lit by a lamp and with water provided by an irrigation system. The New Zealand artist Clare Noonan, for her part, focuses on the relationship between text and image, showing a series of postage stamps from her homeland with an illustration of a Kowhai tree. Alongside is a text with her childhood memories of that tree. Aurélien Froment also often looks at memory: he exhibits a photograph in which the educationalist Fröbel’s three basic geometric forms are depicted on the bark of a tree. The photograph, however, has a back with a landscape seen from a “monument” to Fröbel. By turning the work around during the exhibition, Froment tests the viewer’s powers of observation. In his video, Thomas Jenkins shouts out a series of questions, from the banal to the existential, addressed to a mountain. His yelling is followed by long silences. The absurdity of the idea and the fact that the artist is barely visible alongside the mountain creates a tragicomic effect. Nature itself is heard from in Jean Hubert’s work: he presents slides showing him digging up a plant in a wood in Chernobyl and taking it away. Alongside the projector stands that very plant, with a radioactivity indicator that, because of the radiation, emits a peeping sound. Lekkerkerk has created a condensed and coherent exhibition. Powerful stuff!
THE GREAT INDOORS > 19/10, wo/me/We > za/sa/Sa 14 > 18.30, gratis/gratuit/free, Motive Gallery, rue Vandenbrandenstraat 1, Brussel/Bruxelles, 02-513.04.95, www.motivegallery.be