Experience ARKEN's outdoor summer exhibition, where the two artists Silas Inoue and Nina Nowak invite us to reflect on nature's resources, extraction, and valuation.

21 May to 25 September 2022


Nina Nowak, Material World Pt. I: Equilibrium Tide, 2022 (detail). Photo: Stine Heger

Bauxite, zinc, lithium, cerium, lanthanum. Minerals and metals with strange names are crucial to our everyday lives. They are in smartphones, computers, batteries for electric cars and in the aluminium used for tin foil and soda cans. We interact with nature in all aspects of life. At the same time, the extraction of resources on a large scale affects both nature and people. In this year’s outdoor summer exhibition From the Earth, two artworks occupy the Art Island which pose questions about our valuation of nature’s resources. How should we relate to natural resources when our dependence on them causes imbalances in the ecosystem of our planet? With works by the visual artists Silas Inoue (b. 1981) and Nina Nowak (b. 1984), the exhibition examines how people trade nature’s resources for profit – an exchange that cannot be undone.

In this exhibition, the two contemporary artists create new images of the complex connections between natural resources and human life, and of the imprints we make on the landscape. Underlying it all is the question: how do we bring the fragile relationship between human beings and the rest of the planet back into balance?

A game of ‘heads or tails’ with our future

A huge bronze coin sticks out of the salt marsh, as if the landscape is a slot machine and a giant has thrown its bet into the soft sandy soil. On the front of the coin, which normally depicts the face of a ruler, the figure of power has been replaced by a fertility goddess; she is surrounded by wildlife, and vegetation sprouts from her arms and feet – a symbol of a symbiotic co-existence of man and nature. On the reverse side of the coin, a dancing jellyfish has been embossed into the metal. Jellyfish are among the creatures believed to be the most likely to survive the climate crisis. Is the coin an attempt to repay nature for the resources we take from it? Or are we engaged in a game of ‘heads or tails’ with our future?


Silas Inoue:
I imagine that a giant has had the coin in his hand and tried to stuff it into the ground in an idiotic attempt at returning nature’s resources – or as if the earth were a slot machine.”


Installation view From the Earth, Silas Inoue, Pla¥, 2020. Photo: Frida Gregersen

Installation view From the Earth, Nina Nowak, Material World Pt. I: Equilibrium Tide, 2022. Photo: Frida Gregersen

A Perfect balance

Two remarkable sandstone sculptures have found a home on The Art Island. Their folded, layered, and meandering exteriors are reminiscent of a landscape in its own right. The sculptures are based on the idea of the form of a sandstone quarry. Sandstone consists of elements of prehistoric seabeds; if you look closely, you will find tiny mussels in the surfaces of the sculptures. In ARKEN’s beach landscape, the sandstone sculptures have been reunited with their origins: the beach and the sea. In the lagoon a tidal clock, a self-operating machine, is connected to the sculptures via long steel pipes. Depending on rainwater, river flow and ebb, the pipes will carry water from the lagoon to the sandstone sculptures, which will slowly erode and transform over time.

Art in Sunshine

The exhibition From the Earth is the eighth in the series of ARKEN’s outdoor exhibitions Art in Sunlight on the Art Island. Over several years, the exhibitions have thematized the Anthropocene epoch in relation to the landscape architecture surrounding the museum and examined contemporary art in current, ecological, and existential issues.