Area Marked for Afforestation, West Forest, Kroppedal, 2008 Recreated Lake, Legind Lake I, Mors 2009 Fire-Bellied Toad Sanctuary, Klintholm, Nyborg, 2009 Newly Planted Forest, Gundsømagle, 2008

Back to the Future
by Gitte Broeng

Throughout Denmark there are landscapes lying in wait, ready to return to nature. Cultivated areas that were – maybe for centuries – burdened by farming, are to be set free to play a positive role in the Danish landscape of the future. This is the basic idea behind the many nature rehabilitation projects that are a high priority in current environmental policy. Lost nature coming home. Damage repaired. Nature rehabilitation with an element of atonement. Elevated ethics, that at the end of the day are yet another expression of human control, just like the interventions that destroyed nature in the first place.

For Denmark in Transition Trine Søndergaard has photographed nature rehabilitation projects throughout Denmark. All of them are funded by the state and can thus be seen to represent the ‘official’ view of nature. Her images also portray some of the paradoxes of these efforts: that some life forms have to be sacrificed so others can thrive. Among Søndergaard’s subjects is the West Forest. Since 1967, the Danish Forest and Nature Agency has been buying areas west of Copenhagen – former farms and nurseries – to plant forests. One of the images shows a derelict building. The roof is overgrown and virtually merges with its green surroundings. In their own quiet way, these images depict the changes in the landscape revealed by small details. They also show nature being helped on its way. But still a nature that can only grow at the mercy of culture.

In the landscape series How to Hunt, a collaboration between Trine Søndergaard and Nicolai Howalt, the focus is hunting in Denmark. Here we see the same objective gaze – a distance to the subject of the image. But in contrast to the hunt series, which is more visually oriented, in her work on nature rehabilitation Søndergaard is primarily interested in the ideas behind changing landscapes. Many of the nature rehabilitation projects are almost ‘non-subjects’ hovering between before and now and pointing towards a future that is not yet visible. In this sense Søndergaard’s project is also about time. The image of an afforestation project near Gundsømagle makes visible the role played by the future. A forest path has already been built in the wasteland. The path that will run through the wood that will one day be here – where we won’t be able to see the path for the trees.

- from the exhibition catalogue Places - Denmark in Transition, Museet for Fotokunst, 2010


Tilbage til fremtiden
af Gitte Broeng

Overalt i Danmark findes landskaber, der bare ligger og venter på at vende tilbage til naturen. Kultiverede områder, som måske i århundreder har været underkastet dyrkning, slippes fri og vil forandre det danske landskab positivt fremover. Sådan er grundtanken bag de mange naturgenopretningsprojekter, der har høj prioritet i nutidens miljøpolitik. Et stykke tabt natur vender hjem. Man gør skaden god igen. Naturgenopretning har på den måde et element af soning over sig. En form for højere moral, der i sidste ende også er udtryk for menneskelig kontrol, nøjagtigt som den adfærd der oprindeligt ødelagde naturområderne.

Trine Søndergaard har til Danmark under forvandling fotograferet naturgenopretningsprojekter rundt omkring i landet, der alle er finansieret af offentlige midler og således repræsenterer et natursyn, der vel kan siges at være tidens officielle. Hendes billeder skildrer også nogle af paradokserne ved indsatsen: At noget liv må gå under, for at et andet og bedre kan opstå. Søndergaard har bl.a. fotograferet i Vestskoven. Siden 1967 har Skov- og Naturstyrelsen opkøbt arealer på Københavns vestegn for at rejse skov, hvor der før fortrinsvis var landbrug og gartnerier. Et af billederne viser en ruin, hvor taget er tilgroet og næsten går i et med de grønne omgivelser. Billederne fortæller på deres egen stille måde om de forandringer i landskabet, som små detaljer kan røbe. De fortæller også om en natur, der hjælpes på vej, men som gror på kulturens nåde.

I landskabsserien How to Hunt, som Trine Søndergaard har lavet i samarbejde med Nicolai Howalt, er omdrejningspunktet jagter rundt omkring i Danmark. Her finder man det samme nøgterne blik, en afstand til objektet. Men til forskel fra jagtserien, som er mere visuelt orienteret, har Søndergaard i arbejdet med naturgenopretning primært været optaget af ideen bag landskaberne under forandring. Mange af naturgenopretningsprojekterne har nærmest karakter af ’ikke-motiver’, fordi de befinder sig et sted midt imellem før og nu. De peger imod et punkt ude i fremtiden, som endnu ikke er synligt. I den forstand handler Søndergaards serie også om tid. Billedet fra et skovrejsningsprojekt ved Gundsømagle viser meget sigende, hvordan der fokuseres på fremtiden. Tværs hen over et uopdyrket landområde har man på forhånd anlagt en skovsti, der kommer til at løbe i skoven, som engang vil stå dér – og stien være usynlig for bare træer.

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DENMARK IN TRANSITION is the largest art photography project in Danish history. Some of Denmarks most accomplished photographers create an image of Denmark from 2008 to 2009. The Danish landscape with its shorelines, harbours and cities has always attracted the attention of artists, painters and photographers. The project will examine how nature and culture interacts with each other in the landscape that surrounds us. What is the relationship between human life and the natural conditions at this present time?

The participating artists are: Jørgen Borg, Peter Brandes, Christina Capetillo, Krass Clement, Joakim Eskildsen, Mads Gamdrup, Nicolai Howalt, John Jedbo, Astrid Kruse Jensen, Fie Johansen, Kirsten Klein, Janne Klerk, Henrik Saxgren and Trine Søndergaard.

 
Denmark in Transition
© Trine Søndergaard
year: 2008-2010
80 x 100 cm
digital c-print on dipond
Throughout Denmark there are landscapes lying in wait, ready to return to nature. Cultivated areas that were – maybe for centuries – burdened by farming, are to be set free to play a positive role in the Danish landscape of the future. This is the basic idea behind the many nature rehabilitation projects that are a high priority in current environmental policy. Lost nature coming home. Damage repaired. Nature rehabilitation with an element of atonement. Elevated ethics, that at the end of the day are yet another expression of human control, just like the interventions that destroyed nature in the first place.
For Denmark in Transition Trine Søndergaard has photographed nature rehabilitation projects throughout Denmark. All of them are funded by the state and can thus be seen to represent the ‘official’ view of nature. Her images also portray some of the paradoxes of these efforts: that some life forms have to be sacrificed so others can thrive. Among Søndergaard’s subjects is the West Forest. Since 1967, the Danish Forest and Nature Agency has been buying areas west of Copenhagen – former farms and nurseries – to plant forests. One of the images shows a derelict building. The roof is overgrown and virtually merges with its green surroundings. In their own quiet way, these images depict the changes in the landscape revealed by small details. They also show nature being helped on its way. But still a nature that can only grow at the mercy of culture.
In the landscape series How to Hunt, a collaboration between Trine Søndergaard and Nicolai Howalt, the focus is hunting in Denmark. Here we see the same objective gaze – a distance to the subject of the image. But in contrast to the hunt series, which is more visually oriented, in her work on nature rehabilitation Søndergaard is primarily interested in the ideas behind changing landscapes. Many of the nature rehabilitation projects are almost ‘non-subjects’ hovering between before and now and pointing towards a future that is not yet visible. In this sense Søndergaard’s project is also about time. The image of an afforestation project near Gundsømagle makes visible the role played by the future. A forest path has already been built in the wasteland. The path that will run through the wood that will one day be here – where we won’t be able to see the path for the trees.