New exhibition at Copenhagen Contemporary shows water in its least familiar form

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New exhibition at Copenhagen Contemporary shows water in its least familiar form
Karl Troels Sandegård, The High Seas of Your Intrinsic Ocean (2022). Installation view at
Copenhagen Contemporary, 2022. Photo: Jasko Bobar.

COPENHAGEN.- The Danish artist Karl Troels Sandegård unfolds the fourth state of water in his exhibition The High Seas of Your Intrinsic Ocean, presenting a number of mutable jelly sculptures indoors and outdoors at Copenhagen Contemporary and drip by drip across the city. Next month, Denmark is hosting the IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition. Marking the occasion, Sandegård is exploring water as an invaluable resource for all living things, based on the concept of water as a messenger, fuel or vehicle transmitting essential substances and information to organisms.

The potential of water is a recurring theme in Karl Troels Sandegård’s art. Until now, he has worked with the three familiar states of water – solid, liquid and gas, better known as ice, water and vapour. Now, The High Seas of Your Intrinsic Ocean launches an investigation into the more mysterious nature of water: its fourth state, the jellylike plasma that is created when water is absorbed by a human or plant body.

The High Seas of Your Intrinsic Ocean presents a number of different jelly sculptures cast on site and installed in the lobby and in front of CC. The jelly sculptures are large and organic in shape, their mutability tantalizing as an animated, mysterious body. The singular materiality of the sculptures is created by mixing a gelling agent into hot water, causing the water to gel as it cools. The plasmatic structure itself is fugitive, mutable and subject to natural decomposition – exposed to external conditions like wind and weather, the appearance of the sculptures continually changes.

During the exhibition, Sandegård will keep working on the sculptures in an open lab outside CC, where visitors can track their creation. The sculptures on display are still works in progress. Over time, they naturally turn into liquid water and vapour. The High Seas of Your Intrinsic Ocean allows us to follow the water’s transformation from liquid to jelly to airborne vapour, until it finally connects to the water around Refshale Island.

Marie Laurberg, director of CC, says,“Karl Troels Sandegård experiments with the mutability of water in sculptures that change over the course of the exhibition. Aesthetically, the artist plays with the connection between organic blobs and synthetic colour – and with the many associations of fluids and water, in the body and in the world around us.”

Water as a material

Water is necessary for life to emerge and be sustained. It is present in all known living organisms. Inside the body, water assumes a completely different form than the familiar ones – somewhere between liquid, gas and ice.

In his jelly sculptures, Sandegård explores water’s ability to change and its capacity for storing information and energies that reach back to the past and into the future at once. His work is based on the concept of water as a messenger, fuel or vehicle, a structured medium distributing information throughout the organism.

Researchers the world over agree that we face a number of daunting challenges when it comes to the most essential element for sustaining life on Earth: water. In September 2022, Copenhagen, and all of Denmark, is hosting the IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition, which will bring more than 10,000 water professionals to the city. Alongside the congress, CC and Aquaporin, a water solution company, are working together to engage the public in the current global discussion and highlight the essential nature of water. This partnership is embodied in The High Seas of Your Intrinsic Ocean, which will be shown at CC and three other venues across Copenhagen: Aquaporin's headquarters, the World Water Congress at the Bella Center and Industriens Hus.

Karl Troels Sandegård (b. 1979) graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen in 2007. He lives and works near Copenhagen. The link between art and science is a recurring interest in Sandegård’s practice. Often using his own body as a jumping-off point, he investigates physical and tactile aspects of the world to illuminate the complexity and mutability of our surroundings.

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