21.07.23 - 20.08.23, SKAL Contemporary 

Regitze Engelsborg Karlsen & Albin Werle

"The private is a planetary matter'' is written by Theis Ørntoft in the novel Solar from 2018. Here the dichotomous division of nature and culture is only possible as a thought and not in reality. Culture, which can be regarded as the human intermediate calculations between the "I" and the circumstances of life, is in this way of thinking inextricably linked to the fact that - after all - we are nature. Contrary to the Western understanding of nature, where nature, apart from humans, is an 'other', we are inextricably linked to our surroundings and the landscapes that shape our world. We are drawn towards them, towards nature's shabby creature; and we constantly try to understand it and comprehend it, even though it can turn our lives upside down in a split second.

Weathering is a duo exhibition showing newly produced and site-specific art works by Regitze Engelsborg Karlsen and Albin Werle. The exhibition is created on the basis of a series of studies of local stories, myths, landscapes, and experiences that the two artists have made during individual research stays in Skagen in the winter of 2022. Weathering works actively with the human narratives and offers its take on different translations of something outside of humans; a nature and a volatility that is difficult to grasp and hold on to. Throughout time humans have created narratives about their lives on earth through monstrous tales, otherworldly myths, and ambiguous symbolism; as explanations for brutal incidents and for the forces of nature that have challenged and eliminated human life at all times. Our language forms the basis of these narratives as a way of creating meaning.

In Weathering, the way in which we have tried to understand ‘the uncontrollable’ through various narratives is made clear. We attribute agency and intention to nature for its actions, and we understand nature as a personification of greater forces that, for example, wish to punish us for our actions. Among other things, this way of thinking about the world forms the basis of many of religions, which have been a way of maintaining cultures, social hierarchies, and moral codes driven by a need to understand the intention behind brutal natural disasters, epidemics, and the unpredictable nature, which is not immediately explainable.

"The big narrative" is created by mythologies, supernatural revelations, and realistic stories, which give the illusion of life experience and which help to create overall lines for how we should understand the world, and what our role is in it. Through tales of heroes, heroines, anti-heroes, and martyrs, morals and doctrines are shaped so that we don't all have to break the moral codes. At the same time, these stories offer explanations for everything that cannot be explained. Thor brings thunder and lightning fire, and Rán drags sailors down into her realm of the dead beneath the surface of the sea.

Nature is brutal. Yet we try to humanize it by viewing it as mad gods, or the moralizing force that punishes us for our sins and vices because we do not act in the best interest of the community. Its brutal nature forces us to look back at the crises of the past, just as religions do. What did we do wrong, what could have been done differently, and what can we actually learn from it? The time we live in, where the digital presence has become an extension of our reality, constantly offers us new ways of experiencing the world, challenges our beliefs, and provides unlimited access to knowledge that we ourselves are responsible for sorting through. The overall narrative, which in previous times has been controlled by various rulers, is now up to the individual to create.

We have never been more focused on ourselves, we have never been more disconnected from the nature that surrounds us, and we have never been more aware of our own decay. We have and are about to shift the balance of nature to such an extent that we are practically on the way to the extinction of our own existence. We have developed advanced technologies to deal with crises, even natural disasters, but in the end it is only a form of life-prolonging medicine, not a real solution. "The big narrative" is broken up into fragmented interpretations of our role on planet earth, but one way to gain a new understanding of our surroundings could be to approach them with curiosity - to understand ourselves and the surroundings as something that is inextricably linked, not in opposition to each other.

Weathering is curated by Anne Møller Christensen and Sara Løvschall Grøntved, and the exhibition is kindly supported by Statens Kunstfond, Region Nordjylland, 15. Juni Fonden, and Frederikshavn Kommune.

My prodction was supported by The Danish Arts Foundation 2023 

Photo (up): Rikke Ehlers Nilsson
Photo (down): Regitze Engelsborg Karlsen