Georg Nordmark (b. 1994, Gothenburg, Sweden) is a Swedish sculptor based in Berlin. Nordmark’s art practice stems from instruments and objects used in the handling of animals.
The works are both informed by and aimed to critique the concept of ‘enrichment’ – the idea that captive conditions can be made tolerable with the provision of stimuli that evoke species specific behaviours, and the practice of constructing objects and situations that accommodates these behaviours within a restricted and man-made space.
‘Enrichment’ substitutes the abundance of a natural habitat with set behavioural responses that are deemed crucial for the mental welfare of the animal. While questioning the idea of enrichment as a measure of well-being, the works utilises a wry behaviourist approach to the art experience by transposing the forms, functions and aesthetics of animal husbandry – its toys, feeders and puzzles sourced from animal conservation, domestication or industry – to the conceptual and social context of contemporary art.
The construction of an art experience presents striking similarities in presenting an inanimate object or situation that by intentionality and expression evokes a response and on a more formal level, by constructing an experience within the limits of a cage/ exhibition space. The contrast that arises however makes visible the blunt and darkly comedic qualities of behavioural reductionism as well as the relational pre- conditions between humans and other species.
In the repurposing of these ideas and forms to the context of contemporary art, specific art historical affinities have emerged, from the behavioural orientation and scientific address of relational aesthetics, the dominant spatiality and industrial harshness of minimalism, to the absurdist assemblages or teasing tactility of surrealism. These conceptual and aesthetic meeting grounds are then probed by means of paraphrasing, advancing the works toward an inquiry about the function and concept of art, with the referential framework acting as a critical spectrum.
The wooden mazes draw inspiration from rotate-able puzzle boxes used on zoo- primates in exercises meant to substitute the foraging amongst branches and foliage, with a condensed intellectual and laborious challenge. The unicursal mazes utilise Babylonian patterns; a lesser known and more hypnotic relative of the Cretan maze, but in this case devoid of exits as the spiralling shapes lead into another in continuous futility. The reward rolling in the glazed grooves thus becomes a teasing oxymoron where desire, labour and sustenance seem absurd and endless.
Georg Nordmark lives and works in Berlin. He holds a BFA and MFA from the Royal Institute of Art Stockholm. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at NSFW/Svilova, Gothenburg and Gallery Mejan, Stockholm. His work has also been included in group exhibitions at Carl Kostyál, Hospitalet, Stockholm; Amazegallery, Stockholm; Handels X Mejan, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm; Issues Gallery, Stockholm; Inter.pblc gallery, Copenhagen and the Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm.