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Publication: Sept, 2017. Edition 150
Liquid Landscapes was the second curatorial publication project within our association. We invited a curator and artists from our network to submit concepts that question the relation between photography and nature. The publication was extended in an exhibition presenting the works of selected artists from this publication.
I started my research on the conservation and musealisation of landscapes in natural history museums around Europe. I was fascinated about the pretentious ‘natural’ structures, and the idea of creating ‘fake natural’ surroundings in exhibition spaces. From this basis, I determined that the definition of landscape, as well as the artistic practice on landscape in general, has increasingly changed. Artists working in this field don’t show a clear tendency in the perception and definition of landscape. It’s such a wide field that it seems impossible to get an overall view, as it varies from pure documentation of nature through to abstract digital fragmentations.
I decided to extend my own artistic practise on the topic, by undertaking a curatorial project to define and extend the contemporary definition of landscape. This publication is a selection of submitted projects by artist mainly nominated by the artists of our previous project, some of them exclusively produced for this occasion. It highlights the variety, but also the comparability, of what we consider as nature or landscape, which varies from political and personal to constructed or even imaginary. Liquid Landscape is the imaginary transformation of artistic works about Mars through the exploration of a photographer into the eye of an observer, touching all varieties of possible landscapes and its representations. Even though the human may be absent within the genre of landscape pictures, the role of the composer and also the role of the individual perspective is still very present. We experience a shift of focus when we look at the artworks collected in this book; it seems like we are more confronted with the absence of pure nature.
As in the tradition of Chinese landscape painting, where the spiritual element of the nature is as present as the representation of reality, I believe that the contemporary artistic practice of landscape heads towards a new kind of spiritualism in art – one which uses technological and virtual inventions to visualise the spirit of a so called reality. Photography undoubtably still has the leading role as soon as we talk about natural representation, yet it experiences a tendency beyond a pure capture: the transformation of captured reality into computer generated landscapes. There is a desire that combines all artists selected for Liquid Landscapes: the desire to explore and understand our environment. As fluid as the definition of landscape might be, all of these artists deal with the extension of conventional borders.
Absence, natural processes of transformation and transition, escape, desire or pure observation of landscape leads us ultimately back to urbanity. The idea of eliminating a city shape, whilst still keeping its shape as a spirit, might question our world of constant rapid changes and should leave some contemplation space at the end of this publication.
I invite you to a journey that may broaden your ideas on the perception of landscape, and which may set in motion a discourse on the relationship each of us has with our environment.
Christiane Peschek / Curator