TUE GREENFORT | MEDUSA ALGA LAGUNA

Collateral event of the 59th international art exhibition La Biennale di VeneziaFONDAZIONE ERES VENEZIA ARTE + SCIENZA
23 APRIL – 1 NOVEMBER 2022

For the first time, the ERES Foundation will be present at the Biennale Arte 2022 as a Collateral Event. Tue Greenfort’s project »Medusa Alga Laguna«, continues and expands the foundation’s Munich exhibition »Alga« (2021) in Venice. Greenfort’s approach of incorporating the ecological condition of an exhibition’s natural environment into his artwork interfaces with another core theme of the foundation – the scientific examination of climate change and species extinction. Venice, with its lagoon a sensitive ecosystem in itself as well as a city particularly affected by climate change, is just as much a focal point of the Biennale event as the foundation’s desire to help preserve Venice and its unique cultural heritage of arts and craftsmanship.

Crisp green glass works hang from the ceiling, while delicate paper tondi reveal filtered traces of algae from the Venice Lagoon. Medusa (jellyfish) sculptures from Murano’s glass workshops float in the exhibition space, plaster casts of beach sections concentrate on the coast as a biozone, whereas extracts of local newspapers elucidate the current environmental state of Venetian waters.
The installation »Medusa Alga Laguna« by Danish conceptual artist Tue Greenfort focuses on diverse interspecies life in the Lagoon. The artist brings in human and non-human relationships by reflecting on organisms that are mostly neglected and often barely visible. The fascination with scale is a point of departure for many of his projects. His micro/macro-cosmos perspective is the basis for his installation, which transports us into the biodiverse world of Venetian waters and reveals the complexity of lifeforms such as algae and medusas. Algae are pre-human lifeforms that are increasingly becoming a significant issue in the balance of oceanic ecosystems and the global impact of intensified industrial farming which has led to a glut of nutrients in the world’s oceans, a phenomenon known as eutrophication. These three billion years old survivors, creatures of the planet’s breathable atmosphere, are now a curse as well as a blessing.Tue Greenfort’s works change the view of familiar nature and send the viewer on an unusual journey of discovery. “Ulva II” is part of a complex of works in which Greenfort deals with algae, a group of organisms that defies clear biological systematics and classification and to which properties are attributed that could not be more contradictory: Algae can be toxic and life-threatening, they are considered a superfood and a possible cure, their chemical similarity to petroleum components make them potential suppliers of biokerosene. Algae live in the sea and in fresh water, but also in the air and even on snow.

Algae, which have followed so many different paths in evolution because of their particular diversity and can therefore often no longer be counted as plants, are in their contradictoriness to rigid classifications the ideal breeding ground for Greenfort in his search for another form of coexistence between man and nature.

The glass work “Ulva II” glows in delicate yellow-green tones and offers the viewer an impression of hidden underwater spaces in its poetic beauty. The handmade work, which hangs from the ceiling, consists of differently shaped individual parts made of recycled Craquelé glass, whereby, as in nature, no two parts are alike. “Ulva” stands for the eponymous genus of multicellular green algae, which is distributed in all the world’s oceans with around 130 species. The best-known species is “sea lettuce”, which was named Alga of the Year in 2015 by the Phycology Section of the German Botanical Society.
For approximately 20 years, massive jellyfish blooms ("smacks") have repeatedly been observed around the globe, causing not only injuries but considerable economic problems. One example is the rapid overpopulation of the toxic, pale purple luminescent jellyfish Pelagia noctiluca, causing a serious negative impact on the fishing industry. In summer, in the Mediterranean, these floating swarms are the nightmare of the tourist industry. Jellyfish invasions can paralyze the cooling systems of industrial plants and power stations, but this is also the sign of ecological imbalance. A lack of natural predators such as turtles and tuna, whose numbers have been substantially reduced by overfishing, water pollution, overfertilization and rising water temperatures due to global warming provide jellyfish with optimal conditions to reproduce.

Periphylla periphylla II, 2014, can be seen as an extension of Tue Greenfort’s ongoing research into the relationship between glassblowing techniques, ecological issues as a result of climate change, and the representation of biological specimens.
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© Images Thomas Dashuber
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