3: Landscape as Political Text

Ilkka Halso

Ilkka Halso is a Finnish artist uses fabricated digital tableaux to  investigate the relationships between architecture, technology and nature, through photo-realistic renderings and collages set in natural environments. His artist’s statement begins tongue-in-cheek, with:

“In order to protect and restore nature we need stronger means. Ilkka Halso has continued his conquest in order to save the world. He presents plans for a brighter and more durable millennium.”


In “Tree Works” and “Restoration” (2000-2005), light structures are built around existing trees with the aim of protecting them and, at the same time, of turning them into a sort of “living museum” of nature explorable by a public. Nature is somehow commodified and transformed into a spectacle to admire from very close. The architectural language is that of the scaffolding, transitional structures used to build a construction or to refurbish it: the act of connecting metal poles to natural environments engages a surreal discourse based on man’s paradoxical attempt to preserve what he’s currently destroying.

In Ilkka Halso words:

“I show ironic visions of mans relation to nature and his confidence in technology in solving problems caused by his own activities .I builded fictive restoration sites. Scaffoldings are covering objects of nature instead of houses and man-made objects. Trees, boulders, rock faces and fields are under repair.”

In the Museum of Nature series, great biomes are in the process of being erected to protect areas of forest from pollution. Halso imagines a near future in which it is necessary to protect and preserve the natural environment with increasingly extreme interventions. He combines still photographs with 3D modelling software to realise his dystopian visions.

I make plans and construct visually buildings, which protect nature from threats of pollution and what is more important from actions of man. I visualize shelters, massive buildings where big ecosystems could be stored as they are found today, in the present. These massive buildings protect forests, lakes and rivers from pollution and, more importantly, they protect nature from the actions of man himself. At the same time, I study different aspects of man’s relation to nature as though a rare, unique and endangered place..

While putting nature into a museum you have to take under consideration aspect of audience/ consumer. Nature becomes joyride for turists or beautyfull landscape turns into a meditative theatre show.

Project is based on pessimistic vision of what is happening on earth. I am looking into future and I am not very happy about that. I am considering these pictures more as visual pamphlets than estetical images.

In the recent ongoing series, Naturale, Halso has imagined a gigantic, Ark-like warehouse, containing secure samples of flora and crates of micro-ecosystems, ready for re-planting should the need arise.

It’s typical for human beings to mould nature, justifying their actions with their aesthetic and economic aspirations. But nature can’t endure everything.

In my photographs, control over nature has acquired a concrete form. The elements of nature have been rethought and have, for logistical purposes, been packed into modules that are easier to handle. The whole of nature is stored in a gigantic warehouse complex and the most common types of nature, from soil and flora to fauna can be easily assembled into working ecosystems.

What’s happening? Has nature been evacuated to await better times, or has it been simplified into merchandise and absurd tableaux? I’m looking into the future. I don’t like what I see.