This summer’s outdoor exhibition explores the relationship between mankind and nature.

3 June to 17 September 2017


NATURE (RE)TURNS, ARKEN, Nanna Debois Buhl, intervals and forms of stones of stars, 2017. Photo: Torben Petersen

The wings of a daddy longlegs spread across the outer wall of ARKEN. A 400-million-year-old, crab-like creature moves into the lagoon. Nature comes to the fore in new ways at ARKEN’s outdoor summer exhibition NATURE (RE)TURNS. ARKEN has invited the artists Nanna Debois Buhl (b. 1975) and Tue Greenfort (b. 1973) to join the conversation with a series of site-specific artworks based on the landscape surrounding the museum.

Tracing The Art Island

Nanna Debois Buhl’s photography project is based on the Art Island as a specific, manmade biotope. Three large photographs have been mounted on the façade of ARKEN, and seem to almost merge with the brickwork. In different ways they chart the flora, fauna and particles of the biotope. The grass grows beyond our control, dust particles and grains of sand look like a night sky, whereas the insect wing creates a topographic map. This shift in scale brings new visibility to what is usually overlooked.

The photographs are ‘camera-less’ prints, based on the photographic methods of William Henry Fox Talbot and August Strindberg in the1840s and 1890s. They have been taken without a photographic lens, using only light and photosensitive surfaces.


NATURE (RE)TURNS, ARKEN, Nanna Debois Buhl, intervals and forms of stones of stars, 2017. Photo: Torben Petersen

Living Fossil

Horseshoe crabs make their way up the bank of the lagoon. It is a rare sight, because these strange creatures  do not usually live in our part of the world. It is often called a ‘living fossil’, because as a species it is more than 400-million years old. Which means it has a longer history than human beings.

Tue Greenfort’s horseshoe crabs are cast in concrete. Concrete can contain fly ash, a by-product of power stations burning refuse. Fly ash is, for example, produced at the Avedøre power station, which lies directly in the line of sight from Tue Greenfort’s horseshoe crabs. Fly ash can be seen as a waste product of modernity. An Anthropocene problem, an unintended consequence that is impossible to get rid of.


NATURE (RE)TURNS, ARKEN, Tue Greenfort, Limulus Polyphemus – A Living Fossil, 2017. Photo: Torben Petersen

Human Impact


NATURE (RE)TURNS, ARKEN, Nanna Debois Buhl, intervals and forms of stones of stars, 2017. Photo: Torben Petersen

NATURE (RE)TURNS is a play on words referring to the dual role of nature today, which can be seen as changing, but also coming back in new ways. Living in an age where the human impact on nature is so huge, means having to rethink what nature is and what is natural, what is human and what is humane.

The Art Island

The artworks in NATURE (RE)TURNS have been created specifically for the Art Island  where ARKEN is located. The island was made in 2014 as the latest addition to the manmade landscape of Køge Bay Beach Park. The Art Island is an example of ´Anthropocen´ nature created by culture, providing the ideal setting for a dialogue on both.

The Antropocene

NATURE (RE)TURNS is based on the concept of the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene is the name of a new geological age  in which humans have become a force of nature, leaving such heavy traces on the planet that they will be present in the geological layers of the future. In NATURE (RE)TURNS nature answers back – insisting on its presence and leaving its own traces.


NATURE (RE)TURNS takes place on the Art Island, at Ishøj Library and at DIAS (Digital Interactive Art Space) in Vallensbæk. ARKEN, in collaboration with DIAS, is screening video works by Nanna Debois Buhl and Tue Greenfort at Vallensbæk Station, just one stop from Ishøj on the A train.  The works can be seen in the station area from June 3rd-August 6th. At Ishøj Library an exhibition satellite runs from June 3rd-September 17th. Ishøj Library is located in the shopping centre by Ishøj Station.

The exhibition is made in collaboration with Nils Bubandt, who has been a Guest Professor at ARKEN from 2016-2017 with the support of the Danish Ministry of Culture’s Research Fund. The exhibition is part of ARKEN’s exhibition series Art in Sunshine, which started in 2015.

Nils Bubandt, Professor of Anthropology, Aarhus University.


Talk by Nils Bubandt

Wednesday June 21st at 17.30
Nils Bubandt, Professor of Anthropology at Aarhus University, presents a talk on the Anthropocene epoch. Free entry with your museum ticket. No bookings necessary.

Art and Nature Walk on the Art Island

Wednesday August 16th at 17.15 and Wednesday August 23rd at 17.15
Go for a walk with nature guide Mads Ellegaard and ARKEN curator Camilla Jalving and hear more about encounters between art and nature. The walk is free, but please book in advance at

Please note that the talks will be held in Danish

Art Walks

Explore NATURE (RE)TURNS with ARKEN’s art guides at 2pm every Sunday from June 4th – August 27th. The walks start outside the main entrance of ARKEN and take about 50 minutes. Free of charge.

Family Sundays

How do nature and humans impact on each other, and what imprint do we leave? At ARKEN’s Family Sundays we will photographically register nature and the human imprint on the Art Island. Nanna Debois Buhl is ARKEN’s artist in residence this summer, and will be joining our Family Sundays on August 6th, 13th and 27th.

Supported by the Danish Arts Foundation.


In weeks 26, 27, 30 and 31 NATURE(RE)TURNS provides inspiration for art workshops for children and adults. In weeks 26 and 31 the workshops are for children from 8-12. Weeks 27 and 30 are for adults only.

Book in advance at

The Art Island Signs

At various points on the island you will find conversation starters – small signs about the Art Island and the landscape surrounding it that enter a dialogue with the Anthropocene. Because the transformation of nature is not only happening ‘out there’. It is right here.


Photo: Ulf Svane

The exhibition is supported by


Share your own photos from the exhibition on Instagram.
Also remember to follow ARKEN on @arkenmuseum.

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