Earthbound — In Dialogue with Nature

Persijn Broersen & Margit Lukács

«Bark with a Trace», 2022

In Bark with a Trace, the artist duo of Margit Lukács and Persijn Broersen examine the role photography plays in constructing our perception of nature in the digital age. Central to the work is a piece of bark that the artists took from an ash tree in Poland's Białowieża Forest – a heavily contested area that is the last remnants of the old-growth forests that used to cover much of Europe. Removed from its original habitat many years ago, the parched patch of bark still bears the marks of its history, engraved on its surface; an intricate network of ancient fungi, moss, lichens, and trees. Broersen and Lukács made an extremely close reading of the bark with sensitive photographic equipment, capturing the finest details. They then digitally combined hundreds of different photographs of the bark into a single image, presented here as a new territory, an unknown terrain. What is shown is a surface that is larger than the eye would normally perceive, but its depths remain impenetrable. The accompanying soundtrack is based on the mystical melodies of the region, Eastern European and Jewish heritage, in which the spiritual transcends the world of the material and physical. The music reminds us of sounds we have become acquainted with through a century of science fiction films in which people try to project and tame the unknown within the framework of their knowledge. Amplified or reduced to a meticulous mapping of its almost boundless surface, the artists present us with a new construction of nature, which maintains its roots in the earth beneath our feet.

Persijn Broersen and Margit Lukács (NL) employ a variety of media, including video, animation, sculpture, graphics, and spatial installations. Their work traces the origins of contemporary visual culture, revealing how reality, (mass) media, and fiction are deeply enmeshed in contemporary society. Their practice contemplates questions of perception, exploring in remarkable depth how digital interfaces relate to surfaces found in nature. Both artists studied at the Sandberg Institute and the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. Their works have been exhibited at renowned institutions and organisations worldwide and their videos have been presented at numerous film festivals. Persijn Broersen and Margit Lukács live and work in Amsterdam.