The exhibition to be hosted in the Nordic Pavilion in 58th Venice Biennale takes as its theme one of today’s most pressing global issues: the complex and varied relations between humans and other living organisms in an age when climate change and mass extinction are undermining the preconditions of life on Earth. The exhibition Weather Report: Forecasting Future presents Nordic perspective through the work of artist duo Janne Nabb and Maria Teeri from Finland, Ane Graff from Norway and Ingela Ihrman from Sweden.
The commissioner of the 2019 Nordic Pavilion will be the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma / Finnish National Gallery. The exhibition Weather Report: Forecasting Future will be curated by Kiasma’s director Leevi Haapala and curator Piia Oksanen. The co-commissioners of the other Nordic countries are Moderna Museet’s co-director Ann-Sofi Noring and Office for Contemporary Art Norway’s (OCA) director Katya García-Antón.
Human actions have led to significant changes in the environment and the climate of the whole planet, climate being the common environment of all terrestrial ecosystems. The featured artists examine the complex interrelations between humanity and nature all aware of climate sensitivity and the inherent unpredictability in forecasting. While investigating difficult climate issues, the exhibition stresses the idea of coexistence of humans and non-humans and the responsibility of humanity to take into consideration multi-species configurations. Such entanglements and dependencies—emotional as well as material—and agencies on a scale that differs from that of humans are all made visible in the artworks.
The Nordic countries have a reputation of being a haven where peace and democracy have created the necessary conditions for the welfare state. Growing environmental awareness and the fear of losing the pristine nature and clean environment in the North have led to a new kind of recognition of the invisible work nature contributes to our wellbeing.
The invited artists are Finnish duo nabbteeri, Janne Nabb (b. 1984) and Maria Teeri (b. 1985), Norwegian Ane Graff (b. 1974) and Swedish Ingela Ihrman (b. 1985). Their media include installation, sculpture and assemblage, performance, digital material and text. The artists’ practices often involve a fusion of visual art with humanities and natural sciences, a collaborative or dialogical process that takes place within a multi-disciplinary community. All the artists will create new works for the show in the Nordic Pavilion.
Ane Graff combines a broad range of research disciplines, from feminist new materialism to microbiology and chemistry. Her sculptures and installations interrogate conventional and allegedly stable structures and classifications based on science and cultural practices. Graff’s works make observable how the human body is exposed to other agencies, such as bacteria, as well as the toxicity of the environment.
Ingela Ihrman’s plant-shaped sculptures grow, bloom and wilt. Her works are also comments on the 1970s wave of environmental consciousness but from the queer studies perspective. Ihrman applies ethnobiology to the examination of the relationship of humanity to non-human nature. The installations often include performative element. The subjects and writings include the relations between different forms of life and the concepts of belonging and loneliness.
Artist duo nabbteeri works with context-specific art. They typically begin by mapping the place where they are working. Their work develops in interaction with the environment, its materiality and its multi-species inhabitants. nabbteeri often base their work on the tiniest life forms observable such as fur beetles or various rotting agents. Coexistence and recycling are close to the heart of the artists, who live in the countryside near the Ostrobothnian coast.
Confirming the existence of climate change relies on data and forecasting. In art, however, the future is forecast differently. Tolerating uncertainty, future scenarios and the potential contained in future change, these are all part of the horizon of assumptions in contemporary art.
Images: Kansallisgalleria / Pirje Mykkänen & Åsa Lunden / Moderna Museet.