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Les petites merveilles de Paris (The small wonders of Paris) - There is Hope

oscar furbacken

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Opening March 12th, 6-9 pm

pop up ART is an Artfair for young artists.

Oscar Furbacken is one of the 51 artists whose work has been selected by a jury to paticipate in this exhibition.

DIVERSE MICROHABITATS

An ongoing lens-based art project by Oscar Furbacken proposing an alternative
perspective upon nature and urbanity.

Close Studies III (Rome) 2017 by Oscar Furbacken [3 min trailer version]


Background:
Due to globalization, conflicts and climate change, individuals, as well as larger groups, are migrating across the planet. Many are drawn to cities in order to find education and work. By 2050, an estimated 6.3 billion people will inhabit the world’s towns and cities – an increase of 3.5 billion from 2010 [1]. Our planet will have undergone the largest and fastest period of urban expansion in human history. The UN-report Cities and Biodiversity Outlook demostrates the wealth of urban biodiversity and its role in generating ecosystem services upon which large and small urban populations and communities rely for their food, water, and health.

Microhabitats:
Within ecology the term ”habitat” typically refers to the zone in which an organism can find food, shelter and protection. Due to human impact on the environment, many natural habitats have changed or disappeared. As a result, urban areas with street corners, walls, tree tunks or pavements have become the new habitat for many insects and plants [2]. Botanically speaking these are vast territories where each organism struggles to find a niche with a specific combination of light, nutrients and humidity. In this scale, dripping water pipes, city lights and various shadowing objects create unique climate conditions. Therefore within the range of a mere meter one may encounter several radically different microhabitats.
The often overlooked lichens have the ability to survive extreme conditions thanks to their advanced symbiotic constitution. Air quality-sensitive species can be utilized to measure pollution over time. Certain fungi can be use for mycorestoration, [3], a process that enables toxic waste soils to recover. Mosses and other small plants are frequent colonizers of any new territory including humanly built structures. So the walls and pavements of cities like Paris or Rome where contemporary culture meets remnants of past civilisations are exciting locations for developing a project on urban diversity.

Project history:
During a period of many years Furbacken has been gathering image material from capital cities he has visited. Already during his early art studies Furbacken experimented with making videos of nature and details of street corners aside his sculptures and paintings. In the spring of 2008 when the artist had an exchange at Beaux-art in Paris he made the first serious attempt with the video ”Monumental”, featuring lichen and moss in close up with the Eiffel tower in the background. In 2010 he built a handmade jibb for small scale use. And so far he has collected video from various cities such as Stockholm, Paris, Rome, Helsinki, Seoul, London and Berlin. Recently, certain sceneries have even been rendered as high resolution still photographs, adding another layer of imagery and meaning to the project.

still from the HD-video "Close Studies II" Paris 2018, by Oscar FurbackenStill from the film Close Studies II (Paris) 2018


Artistic process:
This project has no ambition of scientifically mapping out the full range of existing urban nature. The choice of which microhabitats to engage with is, on the contrary, held quite narrow and subjective as to revisit Walter Benjamins concept of the ”flaneur” from a botanical perspective. The artist finds his shooting sites by randomly strolling around among tourists and all, to eventually stumble upon a microcosm that attracts his attention. By bending the limitations of scale through various optical processes, we get to peak into a fascinating parallel world which approaches the realm of a poets imagination as discussed by Bachelard [4].
After finding a point of view that translates the unicity of the specific habitat, Furbacken might take a moment to enhance or slightly tweak the light of the observed scenery. To make this whole shooting process possible he combines a home made miniature light-kit with wide angle macro optics. At a later stage the material is reviewed, edited and sequenced into a series of HD-video loops of around seven minutes each under the title Close Studies. In collaboration with Robin af Ekenstam, a meditative soundscape is also created to enhance the spacial experience of the final looped screening.

Project goal:
The aim of Furbackens project Diverse Microhabitats is to raise awareness and question how we perceive urban nature by unveiling the diversity of the small scale landscapes that have developed within our cities. According to late research the quality of life and health of urban populations is closely linked to the level of biodiversity in their neighborhoods. Therefore, preserving and restoring natures complexity is a crucial challenge for humanity, when urban areas keep expanding in the coming years.
All of our architectural structures are exposed to the forces of nature. It is only a matter of time before they will be overgrown like ruins, by moss and various fungi that can live for a thousand years. Precisely these often overlooked organisms have an important ecological role to play. And in the sceneries of urban nature highlighted through this artistic project, they have become the main characters.

1. United Nations report ”Cities and Biodiversity Outlook”, 2012
2. Nathalie Machon and Eric Mochard "Sauvages de ma rue”, 2012
3. Mycorestoratio is a therm coined by Paul Stammets in "Mycelium Running”, 2004
4. Gaston Bachelard ”The Poetics of Space”, 1958

 

Oscar with camera and light equipment shooting a scene of Diverse Microhabitats in Helsinki
Still from the film Close Studies II (Paris) 2018
Microhabitats of Paris 2019 by Oscar Furbacken, close up photography of "burning" moss in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral.Microhabitats of Paris #1, 2019

installation view of "Microhabitats of Rome #1", framed inkjetprint by Oscar FurbackenMicrohabitats of Rome #1, 2018

Screening of Close Studies III, Rome 2017, by Oscar Furbacken at Susanne Pettersson Gallery, StockholmScreening view of the film Close Studies III (Rome)
Oscar Furbacken with equipment during a photo shoot in Rome city center, 2016
Furbacken during a shoot in Rome 2016
Oscar Furbacken with equipment during a photo shoot in Stockholm city center, 2018
Furbacken during a shoot in Stockholm, 2018
Oscar Furbacken with equipment during a photo shoot in Helsinki city center, 2018
Oscar during a shoot in Helsinki 2018

 

 

 

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