What is going on? A flock of horseshoe crabs appear to be heading up onto the shores of the lagoon. A rare sight indeed, for this strange, prehistoric animal does not even live in this part of the world.

Tue Greenfort, Limulus Polyphemus – A Living Fossil, 2017. Photo: Torben Petersen

Danish artist Tue Greenfort’s horseshoe crabs are not alive. Cast in concrete, their sense of movement is deceptive; they are actually completely still. The story of the horseshoe crab is very interesting in itself: it may be called a crab, but in fact it is more closely related to scorpions and spiders. It is often known as a ‘living fossil’ because, as a species, it is more than 400 million years old. Thus, its history extends much further back in time than that of humanity. The horseshoe crab was here before us and may also be here when we are gone. As such, it introduces a different time scale that puts our own time frame in perspective. We were not the first on this earth, and we will probably not be the last, either.

Fly ash

ARKEN’s horseshoe crabs are cast in concrete. Concrete can contain fly ash, also known as fuel ash, which is a residual product from the waste incineration done at power plants. For example, fly ash is produced at Avedøreværket, which is connected to the horseshoe crabs on the Art Island by a straight line of sight. The fly ash can be regarded as residues of modernity. A human impact on nature, an unintended consequence we cannot get rid of. Tue Greenfort’s horseshoe crabs establish a link between the Art Island, where ARKEN is located, and the Avedøreværket plant which can be glimpsed from the museum. Between an ancient animal and a contemporary problem, embedded in fly ash and encapsulated in the concrete sculptures.

About Tue Greenfort

Tue Greenfort (b. 1973) is a graduate from the Funen Art Academy, where he also teaches, and the Städelschule in Frankfurt. He lives and works in Berlin and on Falster. Greenfort addresses the crossroads between art and science – often based on nature. He has gained international attention with his participation in dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, as well as a large number of solo and group exhibitions at venues such as Den Frie in Copenhagen, the König Galerie in Berlin and the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Oslo. The work Limulus Polyphemus – A Living Fossil was part of ARKEN’s outdoor summer exhibition NATUR / RETUR in 2017 and subsequently entered the museum’s collection.


Tue Greenfort, Limulus Polyphemus – A Living Fossil, 2017. Photo: Tina Agnew

Film about the work

Learn more about Tue Greenfort’s horseshoe crabs from Dorthe Juul Rugaard, senior curator and head of collections at ARKEN.