1 March - 5th April 2019
Essay by Maren Richter
Valletta Contemporary proudly kickstarts its 2019 calendar with the first solo show of the year with artist Nadine Baldow's Pristine Paradise.
What relationship exists between mankind and nature? In Nadine Baldow’s series “OCCUPIED OBJECTS” the artist considers these two parts as divergent positions rather than as a unit. In that context, Baldow analyzes the development of the recent past, in which man seems to be driven to spread out more and more, and to optimize the living space in a dominant way and on their own terms. There is hardly any place existing on Earth, where a human being hasn't already been. Nature is rather subordinated to those processes and rarely seen as an equal part, much less would the human being feel to be in an inferior position to “mother nature”.
Nature also owns a tremendous expansive power – if the human being has no active influence anymore or is leaving an environment completely, nature occupies its space immediately. In Baldow’s scenarios, foreign organisms occupy everyday-objects of the human being. The sculptures, consisting of fridges, washing-machines and cooking facilities, are occupied by a very artificial kind of nature, a fungus-like organism, which deforms, overruns and corrodes the object itself.
Therefore, the artist does not reproduce natural growth habits. Instead, bilious green, deep black, shocking pink and pastel blue shapes, sprayed by the alien polyurethane-foam are dwelling out of the objects and crack them up. There is not a lot left to the imagination of a peaceful nature as idyll. The question remains on the artist’s mind: What is nature for us?
Nadine Baldow opens her solo exhibition, Pristine Paradise, at Valletta Contemporary (VC) after a month-long residency on the island of Gozo. Baldow is a visual artist working mainly with site- specific installations. She studied with professor Eberhard Bosslet, who exhibited his work at VC in 2018, at the Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden after completing a woodcarving apprenticeship in the Alps. Baldow’s work predominantly addresses the relationship between humankind and nature, and their ongoing impact on each other. Aside from her residency at Gozo Contemporary, she has been an artist-in-residency in the Himalayas in India; the national park Šumava in Czech; the nature conservation island Vilm in Germany; and in Seoul, South Korea in cooperation with the Hansung University, where she created a site-specific intervention. She has also produced several public space interventions in Panjim, Dresden, and Görlitz; and has exhibited her work in Switzerland, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, and India. Her work has been shown at the Contemporary Art Week, Delhi; the International Exhibition for Contemporary Art, Ostrale; the Red Base Foundation, Yogyakarta; and the ArtFair Düsseldorf. In this interview for VC, she speaks to Ann Dingli about her ongoing research into the connection between man and nature.