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A Swedish sculpture park between thriller and storytelling in Knislinge
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A Swedish sculpture park between thriller and storytelling in Knislinge

The white mansion of Wanas seems straight out of a Scandinavian thriller, but it is surrounded by a forest of fairy tales. By way of spells, the dozens of works of art that dot this enchanting estate, nestled in the heart of a huge organic farm, near Malmö, Sweden. At a bend in a path, in an abandoned barn, at the edge of undergrowth, they arise during long hours of wandering in a wild landscape: the Wanas Konst – Center for Art and Learning, in Knislinge , is thus offered each summer, when the flora takes its revenge on the harsh winter months.

In the domain of Wanas, it is above all a question of entering into conversation with the elements

The largest sculpture park in Northern Europe has been dedicated since 1987 to the dialogue between nature and contemporary art, under the impetus of its owners, a couple of collectors who, over the years, have invited some 250 artists, from Robert Wilson to Yoko Ono, to leave a trace here. Also endowed with a rich dance program, Wanas is not one of those green spaces that impose their fairground mastodons on lawns. Here, it is above all a question of entering into conversation with the elements. The artist is invited there, like the visitor.

On a pond of water lilies, a planet offers itself to the influence of the wind. She panics as she spins around, holding out her round mirror to the majestic trees that surround her: Jeppe Hein offers us, in his kinetic way, to put us in tune with the world. Also placed on the water, a glass pavilion by Dan Graham superimposes the reflections and thwarts them from its moving perspectives. More frontally, a vast section of red wall by Gloria Friedmann plays with its violent contrast against a background of foliage.

Sound Ballads

When we go deep into the woods, a strange skeleton of a bourgeois living room appears, open to all winds: it is the ghostly intervention of Melissa Martin. In the middle of a path, a hieratic silhouette of Antony Gormley, all in steel cubes, makes an equally disturbing appearance, near an immense concrete mound by Jene Highstein, both buried bunker and Neolithic mystery. Maya Lin’s sculpture takes shape in the meadows offered to the cows. 500 meters long, it dreams of being seen from the air, like the Peruvian geoglyphs of the Nazca desert, or is gently caressed by the foot.

Lastly, Ann Hamilton has transformed an old grain shed into a symphony for strings: tensioned by hundreds of stretched wires, the space vibrates under a red light which, at night, radiates through the windows. But, suddenly, a cry or the whinny of a horse blows in your ear: Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller have composed, tailor-made for the forest of Wanas, one of those sound ballads that have made them famous. The murmurs of dinner, the stroke of midnight, the cry of a pheasant, the song of the nightingale… Listening to their sounds, the forest becomes a film, thriller and story all at once.

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