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Nordic Moods: Landscape Photography of Our Time at Arken
Olafur Eliasson, Islandsserien. 1996.
COPENHAGEN.- ARKEN’s summer exhibition invites you on a journey into the Nordic landscape of today. NORDIC MOODS presents 65 landscape photographs by 23 of Scandinavia’s best photographic artists. The photographs have been selected because of their way of confirming or questioning the traditional portrayal of the Nordic landscape. The pictures show how globalisation and a modern lifestyle influence the way we see our surroundings and the pictures we take of them.

The Nordic self-knowledge is intimately connected with the Nordic landscapes. In national anthems and landscape paintings, rolling Danish hills, tall Norwegian mountains, dark Swedish forests and alluring deep Finnish lakes become images of national character traits.

However, the image of the national romantic landscape, as we know it from the landscape paintings and national anthems of the early nineteenth century, is only a section of reality. This is evident in ARKEN’s exhibition NORDIC MOODS. For the exhibition shows a different section in which globalisation and modern lifestyles are present in the pictures. With about 65 photographs by 23 of Scandinavia’s best photographic artists, ARKEN’s summer exhibition explores the Nordic landscape.

Homeland photographs in all man’s land
Several of the artists of NORDIC MOODS work abroad more than they do in their own homeland, and many of them were educated wholly or partly abroad. However, ARKEN has chosen primarily to focus on the photographs that artists have taken of the landscapes of their homeland. The purpose is to explore how modern depictions of landscapes reflect the self-understanding and mood in Scandinavia today when landscapes are altered and cultivated, and the perspective on them is changing and being influenced by still more impressions from without.

In NORDIC MOODS we still find the traditional view of a clear sky and beautiful perspectives. But there are also crossroads, clothes racks, traffic signs, plastic rubbish, abandoned fête grounds, train tracks and other traces of modern civilisation which point beyond the issue of a Nordic landscape. And which, even if they do not utterly change the image of the Nordic, do raise the question of what characterises the Nordic landscape and being human today in a globalised world.

More than just landscapes
The landscape photographs are about more than just the Nordic landscape as subject matter. Several of the artists employ the landscape as background for an exploration of other, more existential issues, including the relationship between man and nature today. They demonstrate that landscape is not just something lying there. It is also something we look at in a certain way – or merely zoom through on our way to something else. Thus ARKEN’s exhibition also shows how contemporary artists offer new perspectives on a traditional perception of the landscape.

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