Henrik Håkansson records fragments of natural cycles and recreates them in exhibition contexts, encouraging humans to become more receptive to the various living beings that coexist in their environments. Engaging with a vast array of species, and often working site-specifically, Håkansson consistently utilises scientific apparatus—surveillance cameras, recording devices, and computer programs which analyse acoustic and motor activity - resulting in artworks which are simultaneously research experiments.
In a new iteration of Håkansson’s ongoing work at the entrance of Taipei Fine Arts Museum, the artist has suspended a local tree, upside down. Hovering unnaturally above the floor, objectified, the tree has become a sculpture; here, the artist appropriates the Duchampian concept of transferring non-art into art space. With its branches reflected endlessly in mirrors above and below its crown, the tree becomes a synecdoche for all plants, and the human relationship to and exploitation of nature.
This sculptural piece is accompanied by Blinded by the Light, a new film commission produced in collaboration with the Low Altitude Experimental Station of Taiwan’s Endemic Species Research Institute in Wushinkeng, 2 hours’ drive from Taipei. The site is one of three Experimental Stations, at low, medium and high altitudes, whose vast cooperative conservation programmes aim to preserve all endemic organisms in Taiwan.
For the duration of 2018 Håkansson studied Taiwanese moths, which comprise just over 4,000 known species, including the Atlas Moth—the largest moth or butterfly in the world, with a wingspan reaching 30 centimetres. In Wushinkeng, the artist worked with local moth expert Hsu Huan Chih to attract these night-flying insects into a makeshift open-air theatre set. Drawn in using mercury lights, these insect-actors are covertly filmed against a white backdrop, appearing like shadow puppets; this midnight play is set to a sharp soundscape of bat ultrasound signals, which the artist has transformed into audible frequencies.
Håkansson’s 2018 film The Beetle is part of Taipei Biennial film programme.
Henrik Håkansson, born 1968 in Sweden, lives and works in Falkenberg and Berlin.