[K. Pelikan] Baselj

is an artist and designer from the East Coast of the USA.

Interested in:
✷ landscapes
✷ ecology
✷ narratives
✷ hopeful futures

Working in:
graphic design

with a critical eye
and a curious mind.

Side project:
Pelikan Print Co.

Landscape Lab (2021)

Mixed media installation + video

If there is no nature we haven’t touched, how can we negotiate our role in greater ecosystems? To what level should humans intervene? These questions prompted the creation of Landscape Lab, a film that holds a mirror to the complexities of nature parks and conservation in The Netherlands. Picturesque landscapes can easily flatten and erase more complex histories — how humans and nonhumans engaged the land before it was delegated to recreational use, how the animals came to live in the parks, or even how certain species were artificially bred.

Landscape Lab is inspired by the failed modernist idea that nature can be fully created, shaped, and maintained. In the film, an ‘Expert’ character explains the history of three landscapes and how humans might prepare for the unpredictability of nature. The Lab represents a fictional future where landscapes can be modeled to fit any combination of human desires. It is closely linked to the Netherland’s development of New Nature, and the way that humans yearn for wilderness even when the ground beneath them is manmade. The fictional scenarios all begin with real Dutch landscapes and plausible problems. As the management of nonhumans grows increasingly absurd, the fight to regain control begins to parallel real-life conservation techniques. The maakbaarheid, or ‘makeability,’ of nature is pushed to new extremes.
There is no clear distinction between right and wrong in managing nature — but we often lean on the narratives that favor the inevitability and justification of human intervention. Nature parks are a commons in their hybridity: dwellings for animals and recreation spaces for humans. As commoning does not shy away from entanglement, I critique our broken relationship with nature through humor and absurdity.

Photos by: Roel Backaert, Marcin Liminowicz, and Katie Pelikan Baselj