Curator text by Peter Hagdahl
Observations in nature, studies of plants and animals, are never simple. An investigation must have a goal, fill in existing knowledge gaps and correspond with a scientific system in time and space. A meditation comprises many dimensions, whether by a field biologist or an artist.
Henrik Håkansson’s work A Tree Reflected (Malus sylvestris) is a visual system, reminiscent of the study of plants and animals. Located in proximity to the botanical institutions, the artwork proposes a discourse on how we contemplate, study and understand nature. The gigantic glass walls placed around the crab apple’s trunk in four directions become botany’s visual instrument. It screens and reflects, while at the same time it is transparent and shows what is on the other side. Layers of reality are put together creating double tiers, like a simulacrum or a strange hallucination that changes depending on the viewer’s movements, position and direction.
It is interesting to see how Henrik Håkansson has used photography in a sculptural manner. A Tree Reflected (Malus sylvestris) is, in many ways, a work of images. The glass that creates photographs in several dimensions simultaneously places the viewer behind and in front of the camera lens. It raises the question of how we deal with the paradox of studying something when only parts of it are visible from a fixed position.
There is also a romantic backstory here. The focus is on a crab apple tree, its fruit symbolises knowledge, it is a living place that will be home for birds and insects. In time, the crab apple will grow and take over large parts of the hard glass plates, creating a symbiosis, an encounter between art and science.