Nature Inside the White Cube

By Jacob Lillemose

Within the tradition of Land and Environmental Art the examples of artists bringing a physical piece of nature into the gallery space are numerous and varied. As part of his site/non-site dialectic Robert Smithson packed boxes with all sorts of rocks, Walter de Maria created the New York Earth Room by filling a room with earth from the city and in more recent years Olafur Eliasson has installed ice fields. Danish artist Nikolaj Recke has continuously played with this tradition since the mid 90s with his own emotional and poetical approach and in ”Calendar of tomorrows” he is at it once again, this time adding a touch of geo-political commentary.
Central to the exhibition is the work 10 Meters of Extended German Coastline (2006) where Recke traveled to North Germany and dug into the beach shore to extend the total sum of German coastline by 10 meters. In the gallery will be bags with the sand from the intervention and a series of documentation photographs. The act of removing thus becomes an act of extending and the ’leftover’ material is recontextualized in the gallery space as the artwork. As such the work is a generous gesture towards or rather a gift to the German people – Recke conceptually enlarges your country and allows you to own a concrete piece of that enlargement; at the same time as the work makes a reference to the fact that the size of Germany in terms of square kilometers is disproportionate with the length of its coastline (the complete opposite of Denmark) and that Germans often come to Denmark on vacation exactly because of that.
Recke also worked with importing nature in an early signature piece, Clover Field (1999-2000), an installation of a large size clover field. In this exhibition he is showing the video version of this piece (which actually predates the installation by one year) where a camera pans slowly over the clover field inviting the audience to see if they can catch a glimpse of one of the lucky green plants. It is a video monochrome anticipating mental concentration, aesthetic sensibility and existential hope that would make Yves Klein proud.
Nature, albeit not in a physical form, is also present in the video installation Tomorrow is Today (2006). This spring Recke traveled to the Fiji Islands and filmed the date line. In the gallery space he will show two parallel projections, one from each side of the date line, thus conceptually creating a visual space where you can simultaneously perceive two days; a space that does not exists in physical reality and a space where there are principally no todays, just yesterdays and tomorrows. With an indirect reference to On Kawara the idea of today is also being distorted in the last work in the show, the title piece Calendar of Tomorrows (2006). The work consists of a regular calendar that is always one day ahead of time thus allowing you to perceive the world as if you were already living the better tomorrow that you wish for.

Text for the exhibition:
Calendar of Tomorrows
September 2nd – October 20th 2006