Tue Greenfort: Witte De With

Article excerpt

Producing a 1.5-liter PET plastic bottle wastes twice as much water as the bottle will hold. That's the kind of fact you learn through the work of Berlin-based Danish artist Tue Greenfort, who is fascinated by the absurdities of our everyday ways of production and consumption, as well as by the smallest wonders of nature. But "learn" might give the wrong idea; Greenfort's works aren't didactic, finger-pointing lessons in ecologically correct behavior. Rather, his art is a smart, at times minimal but always playful and poetic investigation of how cultural and natural behaviors coexist and interact. Partitur einer Fliege (A Fly's Composition), 2004, for instance--a suite of ten photographs--portrays a fly leaving its footprints on a steamy window, turning it into a kind of drawing or musical score.

Greenfort's first major solo survey mixed existing and new work, the latter coming out of a monthlong stay in Rotterdam, where the artist examined the city's peculiar neighborhoods of cultivated nature--largely defined by its seaport, Europe's biggest, and its vast horticultural landscapes of greenhouses. Herbarium of Origins, 2006, is a gathering of natural immigrants, both legal and illegal: A cabinet holds drawers filled with pressed specimens of expatriate plant species borrowed from the city's Natural History Museum, exotics that arrived and settled in Rotterdam via seeds that came along with foreign ships. Smiley stickers from imported fruits were neatly glued around the wall in a beautifully understated installation. The juxtaposition of dead, scientifically labeled plants and plastic fruit labels amounts to a sort of ethnographical exhibition within a Pop art show, but presented with minimal means. In another room, set up like a greenhouse, bumblebees busily traveled between the boxes in which they are sold for agricultural pollination and a flower arrangement of the sort typically found at Rotterdam's street crossings. …