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MARKEN ER MEJET

In Tue Greenfort's first solo exhibition in the gallery, you are invited to take a tour through a characteristic Danish landscape, where the corn-yellow fields meet the clear shores. The exhibition deals with the intensive cultivation of useful plants in agriculture and the effects it has on all other life.

The Danish landscape is not wild nature, but a cultural landscape. The landscape has been cultivated, the soil has been bred and fertilized for generations so that man/human beings gets the most out of the plant on the plate. In the fields, only monocultures are grown - one type of crop grows in the fields at a time, is fertilized and sprayed with pesticides in order to survive and dominate. This has major consequences for the rest of the plant and animal life, whose habitats disappear due to conventional farming methods.

 

The exhibition is built around the harvest, with a series of cyanotypes, also called blueprints[1], in focus. On each cyanotype, the outline of wild plants (weeds in common vernacular) is seen, found at the edge of cultivated fields where the pesticides have not reached them. Several of the works show machines, formulas and technical drawings from agriculture. The cyanotypes are developed by the UV light of the sun and the outline of the plants is fixed by means of peroxide and well water. The images have been developed during the past week’s harvest, with changing sun, rain and storm, which is why they appear underexposed and overexposed. The works thus reflect the deteriorating living conditions of many plants - lost habitat, pesticides (a collective term for plant, insect and fungal toxins) as well as the man-made climatic changes that we are witnessing. The use of nutrients and pesticides by industrial agriculture is part of the water cycle, seeps into the groundwater and flows with streams to the sea. Here the over-fertilization leads to eutrophication - the algae thrive and bottom plants, that add oxygen to the water, die, and with them the animal species that cannot swim to new, more oxygen-rich places. In contrast, species such as jellyfish, that do not have the same need for oxygen, thrive. It has new effects with unknown consequences.

The exhibition shows some of the influences that monocultural agriculture has on the ecological cycle and how we thereby indirectly favor species that will dominate our landscape and meals in the future.

 

Nature is a major topic in contemporary conversations. The municipalities pride themselves on being a ‘wild municipality’, Rema 1000 collaborates with The Danish Society for Nature Conservation, and the restaurants refer to the sustainable farmer with the name mentioned on the menu. As in the Golden Age paintings, we like to stage ourselves with an ideal of nature that, then as now, was pressured by the effects of industrialization. A cultural consumption of nature arises, where nature becomes an aesthetic experience.

 

Julie Tvillinggaard Bonde

 

[1] The method was invented in 1842 by Sir John Herschel and was used to reproduce technical drawings on construction sites and in industry the following century. The botanist Anna Atkins (1799-1871) used the method to document her large collection of plants. She is considered by some to be the first female photographer.

Marken er mejet
3 September - 6 November 2021 
Photo credit: Alice Folker Gallery