Land Art in Finland
ENVIRONMENTAL ART - ART IN THE ENVIRONMENT
Written by Lucien den Arend in 2012 for the book
Tämää on Meidän Luontomme
(This is our Nature) Eteläsavolainen maisema lasten, nuorten ja ulkomaisten taiteilijoiden silmin (Finnish landscape through
the eye of children, youth and international artists).
Displaying art in any environment creates new dimensions for
the work of art as well as for the surrounding area. Whether the
environment is urban, rural or it has a more natural setting, a
dialogue will always emerge. Installing already existing
sculptures, sculptors will take the character of the given
surroundings into consideration when selecting the optimal
placement for their work.
A step further is a situation
where it has been made possible for the artist to create a
sculpture to maximize its marriage with the surroundings in
which it is to be incorporated. Site specific art is custom made
for a given location.
Environmental art, on the other
hand, is a specific art form which was introduced forty years
ago in order to mold the materials of an environment into a work
of art. One such a form is land art, which more directly, and
primarily, uses natural materials without changing them to raw
materials which bear no resemblance to their original state.
Land art attracts and includes the viewer to enter it and
temporarily be taken up in the work itself. Instead of works of
art and viewers simply sharing the same space, environmental
artists encompass the viewer within the environment which they
have devised. Environmental artists utilize methods and
materials that range from earth and stone to water and plants.
Light and the climate also add to the art. When I coined the
term “environmental sculpture” in 1969 I had made my first work
of art consisting of a complete environment, incorporating
materials from our environment and not using a sculpture in the
traditional sense of the word. During a meeting with Henry Moore
we discussed this project and also the gardens of Isamu Noguchi.
Moore found that there should be a need to include a sculptural
element which was made by the artist; and that he sometimes had
difficulty accepting these gardens as sculpture. During the
beginning of the nineties a workgroup in Finland was setting up
an environmental art foundation for which some photos of my
projects were borrowed as examples for this art form. But during
the last twenty years the Finnish term “Ympäristötaide” has
evolved from its true meaning of “environmental art” to
describing the situating of any work of art in more or less
natural surroundings. In 2009, together with the art center of
Saksala ArtRadius and Mikkeli puisto, I organized an exhibition
in Mikkelipuisto – the park of Mikkeli - in Finland, and named
it “Ympäristötaide ja Taide Ympäristössä” (Environmental Art and
Art in the Environment) to illustrate this divergence of the
original significance of the term environmental art.