ARKEN’s exhibition takes up the concept of Nordic landscape moods. The great variation in the artists’ use of landscape reflects the many factors – bodily, mental, artificial, social and historical – that influence us when we perceive a Nordic mood in a landscape. The landscape mood depends not just on the image itself but on who is looking at it.
Per Bak Jensen’s (Denmark, 1949) Dreaming of Greenland (2006) is a compelling example of a mood depending on the eyes that see. A view of a horizonless sea seen through misty fog, both its title and its subject imply the teeth-chattering North. However, as the title also tells us, the work is just a dream image of Greenland. In fact, the picture was shot at Korsør harbor, Denmark, before Bak Jensen made the trip to Greenland. Conjuring up inner images of – and prejudices about – national and geographical landscapes, the photographer reminds us that our gaze will always be tinted by the images we carry with us and the words we use for what we see.
Many of the artists in this exhibition question the idea of a true, beautiful, natural nature. Lotte Fløe Christensen (Denmark, 1979) is one. Her Screen (2007) drains landscape of all the imagery we usually associate with it. Here are none of the haystacks, stags or cows so familiar to Danes from National Romantic paintings. What we get is a person impishly holding up a blank, white screen that we have to fill in with a landscape ourselves. Intimating our expectations of the landscape subject, Fløe Christensen in a simple, bold move emancipates landscape from stereotypical genre concepts.