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Casper Aguila, Maximilian Brown, Christine Clemmesen, Henriette Sabroe Ebbesen, Liv Ertzeid, Pauline Fransson, Mads Juel, Ida Lunden, Ragnhild May, Martine Myrup, Frederik Næblerød, Sophie Kitching, Liva Jo Juul Streich, Helen Teede, Maria Zahle

The Emotional Landscape

Katrine Stenum Poulsen, researcher and curator, Trapholt Museum.

The exhibition Landscape at Alice Folker presents a number of contemporary artists who each convey the landscape through a wide range of media such as painting, photography, ceramics and collages. Even though the exhibited works represent a diverse polyphony a common thread can be felt. It is this common thread that I will present in the following text as my suggestion as to why the landscape in particular seems to have re-emerged as a central artistic theme.


Contemporary art today is characterized by artists who largely have something at heart. This is expressed in works where we as viewers feel the intimate relationship between artist, material, form and message. There are in particular two present questions that many art historical researchers are investigating in these years; partly how the role of the artist is changing in the 21st century, partly how works of contemporary art are experienced by the audience as being particularly emotional of affective.

It is in the latter category that my own research most often takes place. The English researcher Dr. Caterina Albano aptly writes about the role of the contemporary artist in her article ”Art at the edge of emotion: Living in a state of anxiety” from 2017:

“Artists decode and interrogate dominant cultural climate. Their artworks act as an irritant to established interpretations and the affects that dominate them.”

In the context of the landscape and the works presented in the exhibition, the role of the challenger of current norms and interpretations and cultural norms, can be said to be represented. Here the landscape is not presented as a rendering, glorification or a documentary act. Rather it is a thought or an idea of the landscape as something internal – a feeling, that is expressed in the works. The artists show themselves, as John Berger wrote so elegantly, not as ‘creators’ but ‘receivers’ who are able to shape what they receive.

The year 2024 is written with a capital C: climate change, civil wars and crises. Landscapes are changing rapidly. The political landscape, the geographical landscape, the technological landscape, the inner landscape and the landscape that presents itself outside our door, where insects die and rising bodies of water flood our basements.

The emotional landscape is characterized by its strange presence and insistence on our interaction with it. It amazes, surprises and excites. It invites us to ‘look slowly’ in the spirit of Michael Findlay or rediscover the slow hermeneutic reading of art that Nietzsche, Heidegger and Wittgenstein all advocated. I would encourage everyone who visits the exhibition to give themselves time and permission to look at the works that instinctively evoke a reaction. This is where the potential for the emotional art experience lies and through this we as viewers can unlock new realizations within ourselves.

Realizations that are sensory and emotional as well as cognitive. The exhibition Landscape invites us to mirror our inner landscape in a small ant, a fragile balance or staring eyes. If the landscape is a thought, an idea about something, it can arise as a small inner seed with the potential to grow, sprout, take root and spread. Not only within the artist, but especially within the viewer – if we allow it.

15 March - 16 May 2024

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