end of dreams    In 2003, when artist Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen was invited to the biennial at Sarjah in the United Arab Emirates, what was going to be a week-long visit turned into a year. Because they gave him a contract to teach the workers there to organize exhibition installations. Many of the workers had come from India and Pakistan and it was then and from them that Larsen got to hear about the long, dangerous journeys that immigrants have to take.

And since then immigrants have been at the centre of his work. He goes to the places with the highest proportion of immigrants (France, Turkey, Greece, ...) to film and interview them and uses the material he gets to create audio-visual installations: “Rendesvous”, “Promised Land” and “End of Season”, amongst others. In 2001, as part of the Thessalonika biennial, he made 48 human sculptures and left them on 48 beaches as if they were real bodies, wrapping them up in cloth, and calling the work “Ode to the Perished”.

So far, pretty normal. Another artist who wants to give us a chance to reflect on our reality. Where art and NGO’s meet. What’s more, a type of art which it’s difficult to criticise without feeling like a bit of a bastard. Art which meets with the approval of biennials, specialist magazines and your religious aunt.

Lars decided to hang all those human sculptures from a platform and put it in the sea. For the sea to move and transform. But the sea did more than that. A storm untied the human sculptures in the Bay of Calabria, sank them and spread them far and wide… “I was shaken up because I’d lost all my work and I decided to ask my colleague the photographer Giuseppe Politi to take some pictures of what was under the water. And in his shots I found sadness, anxiety, beauty and poetry. Suddenly I realised that the sea had made my art and the immigrants’ reality one.” They carried on filming and taking pictures over the following months and were able to “recover” some other underwater sculptures too. The result is “End of Dreams”. It’s the co-work of the artist
and the Mediterranean: a portrait and homage to the thousands of people who have drowned there.