Dear resident of the Poort van Tooropstraat;
I’m curious how you’re setting into your new apartment. It’s a building I’ve spent the last two years living with, first in drawings and models, then as a construction site while the structure rose. Two years ago I started working on an artwork that was to encompass the two public spaces of the building into one artistic gesture. Right from the start I was aiming to give the courtyard and terrace of the Poort van Tooropstraat a sense of being a landscape rather than an urban space or a garden. I find something very contemplative and perhaps even restorative about being out of the urban environment in a space whose scale is beyond immediate comprehension. I find being in a landscape gives me space to think. It’s this idea of getting away to a place where you could think, even for a moment, that I wanted to try to create, in the same way that looking out across an ocean or surrounded by a expansive forest might allow a different mental state. The two landscapes I chose to evoke for me both have this quality. These two connected areas were to be distinct from each other in the atmosphere. Both are abstractions of romanticised landscapes; inside a mountain landscape, on the terrace a post-industrial grassy lowland. For me this artwork unfolds precisely in the shift of perception that the opposition of these differing landscapes creates.
With the act of replicating aspects of two landscapes within an urban context I intend to promote a questioning of how should we live with “nature” today. Does it still or did it ever exist somewhere in a form unmodified by human activity, or is this concept of the human and the world as separate entities touching across a divide between pure and corrupt or unconscious and conscious, a historical fantasy? As urban modernisation developed though out the 19th and 20th centuries so has its aesthetic counterpoint the idea of a wild and untamed nature. It’s precisely this dialectic between three environments I am trying to contrast; the modern urban, the wilderness, and the leftover industrial turned back to nature. The project of of 19th and 20th century modernity portrayed nature both as authentic wilderness and exploitable resource in equal measure. Bringing together elements of these seemingly separate realms I’m attempting to collapse the multiple viewpoints with which contemporary society views nature. The four sculptural works on the terrace are intended to oscillate between object and subject, nature and culture, image and material and in doing so bring together these separate fields. Through giving the works commonplace first names, Bengt, Lars, Mikeal and Jeanette, each sculpture is attributed with an individual personality and a sense of subjectivity. Standing like characters they silently narrate this works reflection on the contested notions on the natural and the urban, the human and the industrial.