During the Berlin Art Week 2022 we also had a look at Tue Greenfort’s exhibition at Galerie König. The show is titled “Equilibrium” and consists of various new and earlier works. The expansive art installation occupies the entire Nave space of the gallery.
“The starting point of this exhibition is the widespread misconception that there is a stable state, a natural order, in nature. Framed by a series of larger, existing projects, a group of new works delves into and reflects on this misconception of natural order.” (Tue Greenfort)
Tue Greenfort: Equilibrium (19.8.-2.10.22) / König Galerie Berlin. September 17, 2022.
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Exhibition text (Julia Moritz):
Balance – who doesn’t seek it: personal aspiration, scientific dogma, spiritual practice, ecological maxim, athletic challenge (just pronouncing the word requires some skillful breathing, try it!), beauty. And yet, in the same breath is also a barely achieved goal, sheer impossibility, incomprehensible horizon, intolerable standstill. This is the full spectrum of the concept of balance that Tue Greenfort’s EQUILIBRIUM reveals. Central works by the artist meet new works created especially for this exhibition. Each poses the question of the possibility and meaningfulness of EQUILIBRIUM, from Latin “aequus” (equal) and “libra” (balance). Thus, the exhibition invites participation in correspondingly different ways, from quiet contemplation to active experimentation. Common to all works is the exploration of balance – who dares to achieve it? – the unsettling power of its imagination, the tightrope-walk between fact and fiction, the space of possibility inside of a vacuum.
Space is crucial here, and Tue Greenfort’s approach is site-specific. He relates to the circumstances behind St. Agnes – a former church space – which inevitably led to the question of the role of nature in relation to the notion of a divine order: the ideal notion of a balanced equilibrium.
The exhibition counters this idea of EQUILIBRIUM with all manner of dynamics. At the entrance, an organic wheat field grows, MONOCULTURE (2022) opening the space and time of the exhibition onto those specific to agriculture. On the adjoining wall are grafted ears of corn and stalks of wheat, CROPS (2022) immortalized as delicate bronze castings, set directly into the Brutalist plaster of the former church. The grains are rare, ancient varieties that come from the Kerkow estate in the Uckermark region of surrounding Brandenburg. Greenfort worked there together with farmers who are committed to the preservation and recultivation of ancient crops.
Direct prints of so-called weeds, rolled through a historic Leipzig printing press that the artist has in his studio in Denmark, line the surrounding area. Unframed, they also adorn a display case by the wheat field that looks out at the big picture: Water, edge, land, population – uncultivated knowledge.
The space is experienced in the trinity of its domains: floor, wall, ceiling. Staying grounded is the challenge of the new installation EQUILIBRIUM (SLACKLINE), 2022, where slacklines have been embroidered with trendy slogans of environmental movements, stretched over tree trunks from the Berlin forestry company. Hand-blown, coloured glass sculptures of invasive jellyfish species from Sweden cavort in the corners of the room. Neodymium oxide was added to the glass, causing the colour to change under different light conditions – blueish in artificial light, reddish in natural light.
Shooting up from the ground are three giant mushroom stelae, PROTOTAXITES (2017). Their alien-rocket-like shell houses the mysterious life of mycelium, whose yield will be revealed over the course of the exhibition, producing edible oyster mushrooms. The sculptures borrow their shape and name from a 400-million-year-old prehistoric fungus, whose true origin has only recently been scientifically proven.
Transplanted from the floor to the wall is the new series of BEACH CASTS (2022) as well as flowers, not found in real form in this exhibition, but instead represented as dazzling 3D prints of floral diagrams. The wall circle closes with new cyanotypes, one of the first photographic printing processes, a technique in which Greenfort has been working for some time. The cyanotype enjoyed great popularity in England, mainly through the work of the botanist Anna Atkins (1799-1871). She gave new prestige to the technique through her books documenting ferns and algae, and is now considered by many to be the first female photographer.
Finally, the exhibition’s ceiling space is populated by a larger-than-life balloon-shaped jellyfish, DRÆBERGOPLE (Danish for ribbed jellyfish), 2017. It too is an invasive species, first sighted in the Black Sea in the 1980s and also in the Kiel Fjord in 2006. Its appearance in these sites is attributed to the ballast water of global merchant shipping. Referencing the material reality of these circumstances, DRÆBERGOPLE hangs gracefully above, as uninvited guest in the local waters of the exhibition, admonishing, keeping watching – over meaning, stumbling, and wondering.