Sven Fritz (NL)

Sven Fritz - Cresta (2017)
Disruption – Remapping Nature (2017)
Photography Gert Jan van Rooij

Sven Fritz – Cresta (2017)

A huge sense of wonder about small things in the natural world. This is the artistic motivation behind the work of Sven Fritz (b. Schiedam, 1983, lives and works in Castell’Umberto, Sicily). Small things such as a capercaillie’s stomach contents, for instance. 1088 maagstenen (1088 Stomach Stones) is the title of a work consisting of the same number of photographs, which Fritz took of the 1088 stones that were found in the stomach of just one single capercaillie upon dissection – essential for grinding up the seeds that the birds eat.

For Disruption, this modern romantic brought an existing miracle of nature to De Oude Warande: a curiously shaped 300-year-old olive tree from Sicily. The title, Cresta, refers to the village where Fritz found the olive tree. The peculiar appearance of the tree is the result of the way it developed over the centuries to protect itself from the extreme heat. A devastating fire put an end to this olive tree’s life, and yet its branches were barely touched.

This scorched, typically Mediterranean tree with its twisted structure looked completely out of place among the straight, towering pines, beech trees and oaks of the Baroque park. The olive tree was transformed into an object, as all the life has been burned out of it. This prompted thoughts of the human tragedies that often accompany wildfires while also emphasising the symbolic value of the olive tree. In the Judeo-Christian culture, this tree represents peace and happiness. In Greece, the olive tree on the Acropolis serves as a reminder of the wisdom of the Greek goddess Athene.

However, Fritz is mainly interested in the friction between nature and culture. The tree had been placed in a clearing, at a spot where a statue would be expected in a park like De Oude Warande. So the olive tree functioned as a sculpture – and it was, of course, part of an exhibition. Replanting it at De Oude Warande also reinforced its original nature: a tree. Fritz turns the definition of sculpture on its head, questioning existing notions of art and organism, sculpture and tree, natural and artificial. But, above all, he poetically demonstrated that death, depicted as carbon, is the beginning of all life.