The Rio-based Catalan artist Daniel Steegmann Mangrané presents his first major UK solo show at Nottingham Contemporary, with new and existing works.
A new immersive installation, architectural interventions, a 16mm film and a virtual reality work. Here’s the ingredients of this solo show: The Word For World Is Forest.
A new commission, Living Thoughts (2019), brings the biodiversity of the Atlantic Forest into a brightly lit white cube. Looking at how diverse mediums and technologies can represent aspects of the Mata Atlântica, the artist brings together dozens of native plants protrude from hand-blown vases shaped like branches.
Steegmann Mangrané provides a study into how environments can be portrayed, and in doing so, highlights the impossibilities of representation.
Behind the door to the second gallery, a dark room with only small slithers of LED light coming through irregularly shaped, polygonal cuts in the ceiling, titled C_A_N_O_P_Y (2019). The lights dim or brighten in response to weather data collected from the Atlantic Forest, mimicking the real-time light conditions of the area.
With this new work, Steegmann Mangrané attempts to collapse this opposition by showing that geometric forms can work in organic fashion and vice-versa. Visitors must wear a virtual reality headset to traverse the area.
Within the white circle on the gallery floor that indicates the “performance” area to be explored wearing the headset, the person experiencing becomes an inadvertent performer, their movements describing the environment they are discovering to the audience “outside”.
Steegmann Mangrané is using the forest as a metaphor for the present world, with its intrinsic fight to both preserve and exploit its resources and the endless opportunities afforded by its biodiversity.