As terms such as rewilding and climate crisis gain a foothold in our consciousness, the Danish-Australian artist duo Studio ThinkingHand challenges our narratives about nature in the exhibition Feral Fetish. The word feral refers to ecosystems created in the meeting of humans and nature. As an agricultural country, Denmark is one of the most feral countries in the world with almost no primeval nature and low biodiversity. Yet we fetishize cornfields, cherry blossoms and beech plantations as pure nature, even though they are planted by, and for humans.

In the middle of the ‘urban forest’ at the Copenhagen city hall square, are three ornate round surfaces placed as a hint that a forest contains more than just beautiful trees. Fungal spores, yeast and bacteria are set to live in the engravings of the circles that represent patterns from subterranean fungal hyphae, brain nerve pathways, and cosmic tissue from outer space. In this way, they emphasize microbial structures and enormous systems that we cannot see with the human eye, but of which plants in the forest are all a part of.

A symbiotic culture of yeast and bacteria plays the main role in a video installation created in collaboration with danish film director Mathias Broe. We follow its encounters with, among others, a BDSM dominatrix, a little boy and a non-binary couple in feral natural areas. In the contrasts between the culture of yeast and bacteria, the sheared lawns and the sentient beings, the question arises, what is natural? On closer inspection, nature is as fluid and synthetic as the human gender and way of life in the video.

Facing the window section of the exhibition space are two glass installations. Shaped like hanging brains, one shows the essential role of one microbe in the development of our mind, body and environment. All the while, the other consists of breathing silicone robots rising from a layer of silicon. 650 million years ago, diatoms filled our atmosphere with oxygen. Today, they form a basic element in silicone, glass and microchips. Together, the two installations make us sense our intradependence on other life on earth. By giving us insight into different intelligences, microbial perspectives and the impure entanglements of nature, Studio ThinkingHand offers new ways of understanding our role in the future of the planet.

Exhibition Text by Ida Schyum, Art Historian

The exhibition is prodcued with support from The Danish Arts Foundation, Copenhagen Municipality Council of Visual Art and Councillor George Jorck and Spouse Emma Jorcks Foundation.

Exhibition Catalogue (Download PDF)

Politikens Forhal, Copenhagen, 2021

With support from The Danish Arts Foundation

With support from Councillor George Jorck and Emma Jorcks Foundation

With support from the City of Copenhagen, Council of Visual Art