Skabt Land

Hartmut Stockter

Formation Gallery

07 Jun 2024 – 06 Jul 2024

Formation Gallery presents Hartmut Stockter's first solo exhibition at the gallery: Skabt Land. This exhibition gathers works that all deal with humanity's eagerness to alter the landscape and open up new ways to sense and understand our relationship with nature and the landscape.

Hartmut Stockter invites us to join him in exploring his inventive self-made machines and constructions. Through these, we gain insight into and empathy for the relationship between humans and landscapes, between nature and culture. In the interactive works, these relationships are made tangible and invite the audience to engage, while the poetry and quirks of nature peek through in fine watercolor paintings and sculptures.

With "Skabt Land," the ever-relevant negotiation of what the landscape is used for or not used for becomes a collective concern, which we, as viewers, are co-creators of. The continuous interplay and mutual influence between depicting landscapes in images and their actual formation is in focus in Stockter’s works. Over time, people have tried to mimic and idealize the landscape in pictures and have attempted to create those painted landscapes in reality. How does our idealized conception of the landscape align with reality today? Through a combination of past and brand-new works, Stockter aims to give us a sense of co-determination and agency in some of the geopolitical issues that are usually negotiated behind closed doors, often alienating us as individuals. With a Storm P-like and quietly humorous approach, Stockter's works nestle between us and the dilemmas about the landscape that surround us every day. They allow us to study nature from new experiential angles, sharpening our senses and making us thoughtfully aware of details and perspectives we might not have noticed before.

This performative and engaging aspect of Stockter's practice is expressed in the construction "Arm Wrestling for the Landscape," where the audience can compete for the landscape's form in terms of which elements should be displayed in a landscape painting. Two opponents sit at each end of a table and pull up one of the two handles corresponding to the desired (or undesired) landscape element. When the two interconnected handles are pulled up, the arm wrestling can begin. Landscape elements include, for example, a wolf, buffalo, and horse, a pig farm, a wheat field with monoculture, wind turbine, and solar panel, or a beech forest.

Nature's impact on humans is explored in another construction titled "Apparatus for Generating Analog Virtual Reality." The device is designed to be worn on the head, where mirrors direct the user's gaze at watercolor paintings of plants on rotating wheels. The rotation is triggered by a leather strap attached to the user's knee.

In addition to the inventions, we also encounter "Blue Tit with Tit Ball" in the exhibition. A blue tit made of found plastic, found wire, and a tennis ball with a beak that is slightly longer than usual. The reason is that the evolution of English blue tits is influenced by the bird-loving population of the country. The blue tits whose beaks could reach into the feeder balls over the years have had an advantage, and thus evolutionary research can now state that the bird species have developed a longer beak. Similarly, feeding combined with climate change has led some bird species to spread northward. Not only are human-made fields and gardens a transformation of the landscape but also the immediate joy of nature affects evolution – humans are omnipresent regardless of intention.
The sculptural works are accompanied by a series of drawings and paintings in pencil and watercolor. They illustrate, among other things, one of Stockter's larger works titled "The Landscape Wheelhouse," which deals with the interplay and mutual influence between the idealized depiction of the landscape in pictures and its actual formation.

Hartmut Stockter's works are not just entertaining – they also focus on current concerns and pose questions about the world we collectively live in. Themes such as recycling, climate change, and environmental awareness are all central to Stockter's works, as well as highlighting all the small experiences and joys that nature can provide.

However the motivation for a sustainable practice is not only limited to a pervasive thematic and motivational interest. The materials of the works, which can consist of everything from collected chewing gum pieces, plastic remnants, recycled materials, and even part from old works, give new life. With care for the earth, we tread upon, Stockter manages to create an exhibition that, in a present, sensory, and whimsical way, sparks curiosity about the landscape and our impact on it.

Hartmut Stockter (b. 1973) was born in Germany but currently lives and works in Copenhagen. He has exhibited his works in, among others, Sweden, Scotland, Germany, and the USA. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Braunschweig and has also been a guest student in Greenlandic and Arctic studies at the University of Copenhagen and an artist-in-residence at Refugium Upernavik in Greenland (2002-2003). Hartmut Stockter has exhibited at Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Aarhus Kunsthal, Overgaden – Institute for Contemporary Art, and Viborg Kunsthal.