Nature Boy so Civilized is a phrase from the track Totally Nude by Talking Heads. Their song is about a person, who has detached himself from civilization, living in the wild.
The focal point of the exhibition is the present state on Earth, where humanity’s impact on the Earth’s geology and ecosystems, including the alarming climate changes, is now so profound that a new geological epoch – the Anthropocene – needs to be declared. Our moral ideas about, who to blame for the destruction of the biosphere is humanity as a whole. The problem is, as Mette Vangsgaard points out, that humanity can never be captured as a single unit due to the ever growing, extreme inequality of power relations. Again, we’re letting the big players go – everybody is guilty. Instead, perhaps we should articulate the decisive biological factor in the perspective of the certain way we have chosen civilization to be, and focus on how we convey things.
Like in Talking Heads’ Totally Nude, the idea about leaving civilization to start anew is a growing dream among us, as TV shows like Survivor and Alone challenges.
In Nature Boy so Civilized Mette Vangsgaard captures how popular culture is used to make us feel bad, to give us a bad conscience, but it seems only momentarily, it is as it does not really bite on us, or as we cannot overcome the devastation. On the contrary, it rather invokes ideas about, that we are well adaptable beings to the changes, being close to nature, feel connected to nature. Thus the exhibition presents figurative works in ceramics and glass in Vangsgaard’s characteristic eclectic and unpolished style based on the imagery of popular culture, for example an emotional press photo of a polar bear on a tiny melting ice flake. Motives inspired by comic strips, pocket philosophical proverbs and a sticker of a grinning sun. The works capture the binary condition of man’s perception of nature: catastrophe and harmony, beauty and horror.