Tue Greenfort Eats Den Frie
June 17th – August 13th, 2017. Exhibition opening: Friday June 16th, 17.00 – 02.00
A section of industrially farmed land and a fertilizer fountain. Prototaxites – a 400-million-year-old fungus, the primeval fungus and fungus of all fungi. The Periphylla Periphylla jellyfish, a barometer of the state of the ocean. Wasteland, terrain vague, vacant lot – all terms for areas that are not earmarked for any specific purpose, but bear the marks of human activity and random remains. In the exhibition Tue Greenfort Eats Den Frie, the galleries are infiltrated by living organisms and organic processes in dialogue with their surroundings and their human audience. With great precision, Tue Greenfort draws our attention to the complex relationship between human self-perception and nature. Fascinated by the mechanisms and mysteries of the natural world, he challenges the economic, social, political and biological realities that challenge our apparently persistent view of an omnipotent humankind, superior to its surroundings.
It is with great pleasure that we open the doors to the large-scale total installation Tue Greenfort Eats Den Frie, which extends throughout all six galleries of Den Frie. Greenfort’s title refers to the French philosopher and science historian Michel Serres’ classical text The Parasite. Serres compares human relations with the parasite’s relationship to the host body. The relationship between host and guest, the gestures of invitation and acceptance, are a recurrent theme for Serres. For Greenfort, it is the exchange between the art institution and artist that comes into play. In accepting the invitation to exhibit at Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art, he ingests and eats – literally – Den Frie and eats his way into the very innards of the art institution. In doing so he tampers with the division of roles, asking: Who gives and who receives? Who is the parasite and who is the host? Who is eating who?
When Greenfort focuses on issues like the loss of biodiversity in Danish agriculture, or oxygen depletion in the oceans, he does so without any pedantic finger pointing. What is at stake here is not that clear-cut, and the artist is more interested in localising and identifying the complexities that form the foundations of our mindset. Numerous artists have addressed climate issues in recent decades, but Greenfort distinguishes himself by having a nuanced, philosophical and far-reaching view of our perspective on nature and what he terms ‘the crisis of the Enlightenment’. The wider theoretical context for the exhibition is Greenfort’s interest in post humanism and the Anthropocene epoch. According to numerous theorists, we now live in the Anthropocene age, a new geological epoch in which the planet has been shaped as much by human presence as by nature itself. Humans have left such marked traces on earth that they will be visible in the geological layers of the future, making any conventional distinction between nature and culture increasingly blurred – and increasingly irrelevant.
Tue Greenfort’s interdisciplinary practice addresses the relationship between the public and the private, nature and culture, formulating – often with aesthetic effect – a direct critique of the current climate debate, as well as economic and scientific methods of production. The issue of the artist’s role in society and their unique autonomy are both key points of departure for the exhibition. Greenfort works with what he calls an open work category, i.e. processual works of art that focus more on relations than concluding statements. With inspiration from the dynamics of nature, he problematises and thematises urgent contemporary issues surrounding ecology and its history. In keeping with Serres’ The Parasite, here it is Greenfort who becomes the parasite, the outsider, who infiltrates the art institution to stir things up and provoke a public debate. As the artist himself says: “Art has the ability to elaborate on and open up discourses without being labelled and categorized as this or that political faction.”
Tue Greenfort has become a key voice on the international art scene with a large number of major exhibitions to his name, including his participation in dOCUMENTA 13 and Skulptur Project Münster 2007 as well as solo exhibitions at SculptureCenter in New York and Secessionen in Vienna. This is, however, the first time Greenfort has been given the opportunity to have the exclusive use of so much space, making Tue Greenfort Eats Den Frie his largest solo show in Denmark to date.