‘To what extent are we part of nature?’ wonders Jeppe Lauge, as someone who loves living in the city but feels a great need for the isolation of nature from time to time. But how much of the nature that he visits is actually untouched by people? Jeppe goes out into the world to photograph landscapes, cultivated or otherwise. Just as people manipulate nature, he manipulates his photos to construct new landscapes in digital collages on his computer. ‘I look at an image from a digital perspective – our other reality – and during the editing process I put a geometric layer on top of it.’ A painted landscape then arises on the canvas that evokes both recognition and alienation – for on closer inspection, a pine forest proves to be impossibly dense, and a tree turns out to be built up out of countless fragments.
Although the composing of a landscape from separate elements is reminiscent of the method used by painters in former times, Jeppe’s compositions are unconventional. He tells how a diagonal line leads the eye: ‘Your eyes zoom along a row of trees toward the bottom right-hand corner. There’s speed in that. The restfulness of the large area of sky then offers a counterbalance, which makes you put on the brakes.’ With the smaller canvases, he zooms in closer. ‘With those, I’m interested in the place where the forest and the sky touch, the line that arises there.’ Here too, excerpts from reality come together in a new image.
This approach is a trusted one for Lawrence James Bailey as well. He too collects material which he photographs and combines to make new representations in his studio. Although with him, people are perhaps more emphatically present, an aspect that comes from the type of ‘landscape’ he uses as a source: ‘The border area where the city and the surrounding landscape meet. A kind of no man’s land where hardly anybody goes and where criminal activities take place.’ In a world where people control most of the existing nature, he sees these terrains as the new wilderness. ‘You won’t be eaten up by a wolf, but it can be dangerous there just the same and end up in confrontations.’
The beer cans, stolen handbags, condom wrappings and cigarette butts he finds in these ‘edgelands’ are at odds with romantic ideas about landscape. He combines such objects to make a new whole in his textile pieces, which are layered both in terms of their construction and references. ‘An organic mix of realities.’ Whereas he previously ‘drew’ with thread and a sewing machine, now Lawrence frequently recycles textile and embroidery that he finds in second-hand shops or on Marktplaats, the Internet marketplace. A method of working that ties in with how he collects his source material. The landscapes that he creates in his banners, flags and wall hangings, accompanied by poetic or provoking texts, gain a history of their own. The longer you look at them, the more their story unfolds, just as Jeppe’s landscapes reveal more and more. What do you see when you look around the corner?