Video installation Jakob Kudsk Steensen at the oldest museum in the Netherlands — Teylers Museum

Video installation Jakob Kudsk Steensen at the oldest museum in the Netherlands

Nov 17, 2023 to Mar 03, 2024

Starting 17 November, the contemporary exhibition Beyond the Glacier, by artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen (Denmark, 1987), will be on at Teylers Museum. It is the first exhibition by Rieke Vos, curator of contemporary art. She invited the Danish artist to create a presentation both sensory and socially topical, in the historic Pieter Teyler House. Since its opening in 1784, Teylers Museum has promoted contemporary art. With the recent appointment of Rieke Vos (formerly of Het HEM, in Zaandam), the museum is honouring its commitment to this tradition. In Beyond the Glacier, 3D animations and the sound of ice creaking and drops of water falling immerse you in a melting glacier in the Swiss Alps.    

Arolla Glacier

Jakob Kudsk Steensen creates digital landscapes on the basis of actual landscapes on the verge of radical transformation due to climate change. The visual installation to be shown at Teylers Museum documents a glacier cave in the Arolla mountains in southern Switzerland. Steensen visited the cave in the spring of 2022 and recorded it in minute detail with digital scans of the glacier, plants in its vicinity, diverse geological layers and microorganisms. In the resulting work of art, you slowly float through the ice cave, past the rough bark of the Arolla pine and into microscopically small lichen. Like a reverie of the past in which everything is united by time, language and a multidimensional ecosystem. In September 2022, nine months after the artist’s first visit, the glacier cave completely collapsed, so now it only exists as a digital destination.  

Photograph of Jakob Kudsk Steensen. Photo: Joel Kuennen

Jakob Kudsk Steensen  

Jakob Kudsk Steensen creates poetic interpretations of forgotten or lost natural phenomena. His sensory multimedia installations recount layered stories about nature, ecology and related cultural histories. Besides the scans he makes during his expeditions, he speaks with local people, writes down old folk tales and records local songs that he and a composer convert into spatial sound installations. He brings these elements together within a virtual environment, to be experienced as an art installation.

Kudsk Steensen exhibits his work internationally at museums, festivals and biennales, including recently at Halle am Berghain in Berlin, commissioned by LAS (Light Art Space), Serpentine Galleries in London, Luma Foundation in Arles and ARoS Museum of Art in Aarhus. An earlier version of his work on the Arolla Glacier was shown at the Copenhagen Contemporary in the spring of 2023. For Teylers Museum, the artist is making an entirely new installation designed especially for this venue.

Beyond the Glacier

The study of glaciers in the Swiss Alps was an important subject of scientific research in Western Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. At the time, it led to radically new insights into the origin of human life. As a leading scientific institute, Teylers Museum collected many important books, fossils and minerals related to this subject. A nineteenth-century illustration, part of the museum’s collection, showing the recently shattered Arolla Glacier provides a moving perspective on Kudsk Steensen’s artistic observations. The exhibition Beyond the Glacier demonstrates how the transformation of our planet will ultimately also bring about a profound transformation in us.

Rieke Vos: “Teylers Museum is unique. Its historical context and rich collection in the fields of both art and science offer a unique perspective on urgent issues of our time. As a museum, we are very proud that Jakob Kudsk Steensen has accepted our invitation to explore the potential of the old museum as a stage for topical conversations and contemporary art.”

Jakob Kudsk Steensen at Pieter Teylers Huis. Photo: Franck Doho