Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen has worked on the issues and dangers of migration in different geographies for a number of years. His most recent production End of Dreams — produced during a residency at the Italian art organisation, qwatz — is an ode to the countless lives that have been lost by those attempting to traverse the Mediterranean Sea in order to reach Europe.
Initially envisioning End of Dreams as a sculptural installation, in 2014 Larsen began his work by submerging 48 concrete-canvas sculptures off the coast of Pizzo Calabro in Calabria, South Italy. The plan was to allow these sculptures, which are reminiscent of body bags, to slowly acquire a patina of sea organisms. They were then to be removed from the sea and exhibited as a sculptural constellation marked by the wear and tear of the sea.
During the making of the work an unanticipated violent storm ravaged the raft that was holding the structures in place and their remnants were scattered across the seabed and onto nearby beaches. Some disappeared altogether. Larsen believed that the intervention of nature brought the process of the work's production even closer to the feelings of trauma and peril he was trying to express, adding to the narrative of the piece, and so following the storm he hired divers to film the scene and collect all the debris and sculptures that could be found. Working with this material, Larsen created a new work that is a multi-media installation comprising a five channel HD video shot under sea, and a composition of some of the remains of the sculptural elements.
This project was commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation.
End of Dreams
5 channel HD video, 12 channel audio
11 sculptures made of concrete canvas
Produced by Qwatz, Rome
Funded by Danish Arts Council, Sharjah Art Foundation