Faculty of Forest Fantasies
and other Forestic Affairs
Danish artist Anne Mølleskov is interested in exploring new ways of engaging in our complex relationship with nature. Her work is often responding to specific locations by making notions of wildness and wild nature the locus of real encounters, explorations and reflections. At the heart of her (ad)ventures is a desire to evoke alternative environmental narratives by crossing and re-crossing the boundaries between apparent opposites such as nature/culture, Self/Other, fiction/reality and local/global.
Anne’s multi-disciplinary practice is playful, experimental, and process oriented, incorporating photography, video, installation, performance, fashion, textiles, rambling, watercolour, social media, and texts.
Anne received a Bachelor of Fine Art from Central Saint Martin’s College of Art & Design, London (2000) and an MA in Fine Arts from LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore (2017). She has been involved in solo shows, group shows, artist residencies, and collaborative projects in Scandinavia, UK, China, India, and Singapore.
Forest Fantasies and other Forestic Affairs
For the residency in March, Anne converted the studio into a Faculty of Forest Fantasies and other Forestic Affairs. Everyday she went on a small expedition into the nearby, partly forested area which she sees as an unknown and wild’ land, ‘a landscape of possibilities’ and a place for wonder, imagination, and engagement. She would also take a variety of groups on 'forest visits', inviting them to re-imagine what it means to "go to the forest".
‘Backstage’ at “Faculty of Forest Fantasies and other Forestic Affairs”, she created and collected a diverse range of materials, such as a logbook, playful mappings, peculiar landscape poetry, magic/talking/walking/selfie sticks, forest fashion, a temporary territory (picnic blanket) and other essential requisites and quirky gear for dealing with forestic affairs.
In general, Anne is interested in how we as humans perceive and interact with nature, particularly with green areas like forests or urban woods. Through her multi-disciplinary practice, she plays with different perceptions of nature, thereby attempting to create alternative responses and approaches to the natural world.
View more images of the residency here.
Isabelle Desjeux interviews Anne Mølleskov about her residency [edited]
Isabelle Desjeux - ID
Anne Mølleskov - AM
I D - What was your initial project? What was the one question you were trying to address?
A M - What wonder, imagination, and engagement, does this particular “landscape of possibilities” (indoor and outdoor) call for in relation to my practice and focus on our complex relationship with nature?
I D - How did the reality of the studio fit with the idea that you had of spending a month here?
A M - Perfect. And I loved that I could “transform’ it to “faculty of Forest Fantasies and Other Forestic Affairs” and use it in connection with the nearby outdoor areas
I D - What did you think of interacting with the teachers?
A M - They were amazing. Very open, interested, and it was very exciting to go on walks with the children and them, experiencing their approach with children.
I D - You had mentioned some apprehension about working with the children before starting. What did you think of working with the children? Was this as you had expected?
A M - After you had explained, that I didn’t have to do anything but my usual practice (not work aimed for the children), I found it fun and nice, that they got excited about my approach.
I D - What would you say you have achieved during this month?
A M - Quite a lot of interaction and dialogue, Gained a lot of material to digest and use for future work
I D - You practice relies on the proximity of “the wild”, and the possibility of “going exploring”. Can you expand on how you used the surroundings of the studio for that?
A M - I won’t say it relies on it, but in this case I really enjoyed the proximity, and a higher permeability between indoor/outdoor. It became easier to experiment with different ways of interacting with and perceiving the forest and oneself in it. And as I like to work site-specific and challenge categories such as fiction/reality and nature/culture, and actually also ideas of art, and artist/audience, I find it interesting to bring myself and the audience into the real landscape, becoming part of it (instead of solely watching or experiencing a representation in a white cube). A kind of OOO or alien phenomenology approach.
Also the forest works on us--during the residency I walked every day, finding new forests and new interesting things to discover. And it was easy to play with the idea of going on an adventure – it doesn’t have to be extreme either/or ‘going into the wild’ as many people seem to think. Adventure is right there on your doorstep, ready to jump-start your spirit – and it is perfectly OK to enjoy the aircon indoor also afterwards.
I Used the outdoors to do and document performative works, such as “I am not a Sunday Painter”, and works that linked up to International Forest Day, Earth Hour, and International Womens Day. I Used social media. I played with ideas of how to dress ‘properly’ in the forest – created ‘forest fashion’ from the tropical forest in Singapore...
I have noticed how urban people often romanticize the forest (check #macritchie on Instagram) and use the forest as a ‘consumer product’, a back curtain for self staging as a for example “wanderer going into the wild’ – instead of criticizing this, I liked to play with it (e.g. linking up to e.g. #womenintrees) as I feel there is more to it that pure surface. And it was fun.
Initially I thought I would place works in the landscape around, but I realized it was already full of interesting objects, probably from the nearby junk shop. And I also like my work to be as ephemeral as possible. Leaving as little traces as possible (haven’t we (and Modernism) produced enough objects? ;-)). I just had to make “the gallery floor plan”, the names came during all the walks (creative writing desk, tv tree, trash tree, greenwash, the END (coffin) etc.) – the usual distinction between pristine forest and garbage/pollution/manmade became more blurred for me. I ended up really appreciating this secondary forest, full of human traces, as it was. Perhaps embracing our trash, is a step towards bridging the human/nature gap. The “floor plan” included the performative events that had happened.
I D - It seems that your practice relies on your relationship with the community too. You seemed to have engaged with a variety of communities during your stay here (school community, art community and the Danish Women community, any other?) Were you happy about the way you managed to engage the various groups?
A M - Yes, I think so. I trusted and followed the flow. Each interaction and event went it’s own ways. I counted 10 events, including the artist talk for teachers, group events, and walks with the teachers and children. I found it quite natural, and enjoyed including audience in my way of thinking and working, while I also learned myself.
I liked the unpredictability of working with the outdoors and other people. You might have a plan until somebody (humans, weather, ants, plants etc.) have other plans for you! And I am very happy, if any of the involved are inspired to ‘go outdoors on adventure’, also now, the school/nursery has become aware of the nearby forest.
I D - What are you taking away from this month?
A M - A lot of energy ☺ Happy memories. Being confirmed, that art really has a role to play in creating new narratives about ourselves and nature – as art can be playful, non dogmatic and embrace opposing perceptions and attitudes. I also take away my picnic blanket/landscape painting, which I see as another (even more portable and ‘light’) version of my tent or my ‘canvas gallery dress’ (I made in Shanghai), a territory, a landscape (painting), a portable gallery or base for interaction and dialogue.
I D - Will you be taking anything from this project to your next project? Do you have a plan for your next project? What will you be doing next? (Anything you’d like to share about furture plans).
A M - I will make an artist book (probably a zine) called Forest Fantasies and Other Forestic Affairs with material from this residency. I will be spending more time in Scandinavia during the coming year, do work there. I am also considering writing an article for a Scandinavian online art magazine about contemporary South East Asian art that interests me.
Finally, I have a project in India involving art, conservation, and women empowerment.
I D - Thank you for sharing your thoughts Anne. We look forward to the zine and wish you luck with your next projects. Keep us informed!