German artist Julius von Bismarck, who is suspected of being responsible for painting giant letters on natural relics in the Mývatn region in Northeast Iceland, including tuff ring volcano Hverfjall, which is under nature protection, recently spoke to the New York Times about his controversial work.Photos: Hlynur Hallsson.
In his series Kunst (Art), a collection of photographs of pristine natural settings, such as a lava field or cave, tagged with the words corresponding to the image, he says he seeks to challenge viewers to contemplate how they perceive nature versus how they experience it.
The damage caused to the landscape in the process caused outrage in Iceland with critics branding von Bismarck a “nature terrorist.” The vandalism has been subject to a criminal investigation.
Hlynur Hallsson, a visual artist from Akureyri, came across photographs of the tagged settings in Iceland at an exhibition of von Bismarck in Berlin. Von Bismarck, however, has denied being responsible, saying that the series was a result of a collaboration with several anonymous artists, “who acted completely on their own regarding each inscription.”
According to the New York Times, the artist viewed the critical reaction to his work as “confirmation that society has lost touch with the soul of those natural places that it professes to revere.”
“I don’t want to attack nature, I want to attack the clichés on nature,” he said. “An attack is when tourists visit such a place, day in and day out, and infrastructure is built up around them.”