Installation view of the work exhibited in the exhibition The Mountain Touch, curated by Andrea Lerda at Museomontagna, Turin 2022
Photo: Mariano Dallago
I embed everything that sounds against my chest before our own horizon (2022)
450 x 450 cm
In my site-specific installation at the Museo Nazionale della Montaga, I explored the borderland between the personal dimension and nature as a function and place of recovery in an urban urban environment. I was fascinated by how we see and approach nature as a security in existence where new research shows clear signs of well-being with being in nature in connection with serious illness. Italy was a country that was hard hit during the pandemic and I wanted to show how nature can be used both as a view and as a place for recovery. The fictitious bedroom would with small subtle details such as a fictitious window with motifs outside the museum in Turin invite to raise questions about the important role of nature in urban urban environments.
During the exhibition, patients at a children's hospital also had to create models in a research project that was based on my artistic works as a method to investigate how nature can be used as a healing tool for people in need of care.
Peter Stridsberg develops his research predominantly through the photographic medium. In his practice he tries to explore and expand the borderland between personal dimension, nature and stage set. Fascinated by how the concept of landscape has evolved over time and the way it influences how we see and feel a place, the artist reflects on the physical and mental dynamics (bound to thought and perception) triggered by the encounter between human and natural dimensions.
The artist usually creates domestic sets directly in the natural environment and subsequently immortalises them via photography. With the ensuing pictures, in which the artist’s presence is fundamental, Stridsberg explores the physical and emotional relationship that exists between human beings and the environmental context.
For the exhibition, the artist has expanded his work mode and created the set of a bedroom within the exhibition context, a private space that the onlooker is invited to occupy. Seated on the bed in the room, the temporary inhabitant of this place can turn his/her gaze to the mountain landscape outside the window. The artist brings into play the condition of forced isolation experienced during the pandemic period, the sense of the impossible and, equally, the perceived need to be in direct contact with natural and outdoor environments such as mountain spaces or city parks.
In this sense, his work makes reference to two highly topical themes: “nature-deficit disorder”
and “solastalgia”, both negative reactions generated by biological annihilation and the progressive extinction of experiences with nature. Richard Louv’s expression “nature-deficit disorder” refers to the impact of a lack of connection with nature on human health. According to Louv, this term describes “the human costs of alienation from nature: diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, higher rates of emotional and physical illnesses...”
The term “solastalgia” was coined by Glenn Albrecht to describe that chronic emotion, situated and painful – a mix of comfort, nostalgia and destruction –, felt by human beings when they impotently observe the loss of a natural place as a result of the environmental devastation underway. Albrecht also coined the phrase “psychoterratic mental conditions” to describe the emotions, sentiments and illnesses – such as eco-anxiety and global fear – linked to the earth and mental health.
The benefits of “mediated nature”
The first scientific studies on the influence of nature and vegetation on health were the work of Professor Ulrich who conducted several experiments in the 1980s to “measure” the leverage of exposure to natural elements on recovery from stress and on healing processes. In one of his pioneering studies, he showed that patients who had a view of a garden from their post-operatory hospital room had a far better outcome in terms of time, complications and drug use than those who did not have a view of a green space.
Similar results were obtained in experiments conducted in prison, where cells with a view of green space and trees were generally associated with a smaller number of healthcare calls by prisoners. Numerous subsequent studies have corroborated Ulrich’s results on different types of patients, confirming the ability of exposure to the natural environment to improve emotional states, health and recovery from illness and increase pain tolerance. Patient reactions linked to the presence of plants in medical in-patient/diagnostic screening environments are no less impressive. Patients operated on for thyroidectomy, appendectomy and haemorrhoidectomy, to provide but an example, were found to have a greater tolerance of pain and as a result required minor recourse to painkillers, as well as being less anxious when plants were present in their hospital room. Similar results have also been obtained in healthy subjects with artificially induced pain.
Ulrich was also the first academic to demonstrate that just visualising images of forests prompts improvement in certain physiological parameters (blood pressure, alpha brainwave amplitude, muscular tension). Today, multiple studies demonstrate restorative effects and a reduction of stress linked to even indirect exposure to natural environments, i.e. via various types of “nature substitutes” such as photos, videos and virtual natural environments. Although “technological nature” cannot, of course, completely reproduce the effects of real nature and lacks many major advantages of forest immersion, virtual “immersive” technologies might be significant in improving the wellbeing of people with no direct access to nature or for whom direct contact with nature is not possible or indeed hazardous.
This applies primarily to subjects with physical disabilities or in situations of bedrest and treatment but also to certain forms of mental illness, including depression and anxiety.
Francesco Meneguzzo, Federica Zabini
Istituto per la BioEconomia, CNR – Sesto Fiorentino (FI) CAI Comitato Scientifico Centrale
The home along our river (2019)
Temporary site-specific installation
800 x 350 cm
The house and the home had long united my interest in exploring and discussing the significance of places for us in everyday life. The installation would stand there as an impact in the middle of nature and in a place that is usually used as a green area in the middle of a growing city. I chose to build an illustrative image of a classic Nordic home with a colorful facade, two windows, a door and a roof. This is because I wanted to integrate with the people who passed the installation. I wanted to open up dialogue about the importance of the home in our lives, but also as a conversation starter about how we see the home's influence and influence in our lives both individually and collectively when cities and urban communities develop and change.
The project included processes ranging from building and painting myself and then hiring 14 people to help build the structure. The process also innovated, temporarily applying for a building permit from Umeå municipality and applying for a police permit to build the installation in a public place as well as snow shoveling.
Photos: Laura Cemin