In times in which the blank spaces on the world map have largely disappeared and an “untouched natural state” virtually only exists in the form of areas designated as nature reserves, the “wilderness” is returning in art. The search for the last open places, the expedition as an artistic medium, visions of a posthuman world characterize the works of many contemporary artists alongside the renegotiation of the relationship between individual and beast. The Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt dedicates an extensive thematic exhibition to this recurring fascination and presents around 100 important works from artists such as Julian Charrière, Marcus Coates, Tacita Dean, Mark Dion, Jean Dubuffet, Max Ernst, Asger Jorn, Joachim Koester, Ana Mendieta, Georgia O’Keeffe, Gerhard Richter, Henri Rousseau und Carleton E. Watkins.
The exhibition unites paintings, photographs, videos, sculptures and installations, which explore the multitude of different links between wilderness and art from 1900 to the present. With “wilderness” a cultural concept is put up for discussion, which has always also served as a projection surface for anything that was different and foreign, for the longing fantasies beyond the boundaries of the supposed civilization. In today’s “Anthropocene,” the utopia of a natural state remote from culture and human influence seems anachronistic. And yet the examination of traditional images and fictions of wilderness seem more alive than ever before.