UrbanFestival 13
performans in public space
16.7. from the Square of Europe to the hills of Sljeme

Nature vs. Society

Nina Kurtela

Given the current processes of commodification affecting nature and the natural resources, to what extent is it still possible to see nature as wilderness and a virginal sphere in which the (economic) categories established by the society cease to be valid?
“The performance Nature vs. Society consists of walking from the centre of the urban texture – the central square – towards the northern edge of the city and then further to the forest. Thereby I mark the route as I progress, leaving traces. In reference to the Hansel and Gretel story, which was canonized by the Grimm brothers in the Romanticist period, I leave coins along the way instead of pebbles and breadcrumbs, which serves to explore the possibility of abolishing the value of money along with the change in the environment through which I am walking. In the area of the city itself, especially its centre, as it represents the economic and political power, the coins still retain their exchange value: they are accessible to everyone and open up space for interaction. At the periphery, where the urban area gradually fades away, the value of money is questioned; eventually, in the forest, it may be completely abolished, at least on the symbolic level, although not necessarily on the actual one.” (N.K.)

Nina Kurtela works in the cross-media field of research and creates her art between various disciplines such as the visual and performing arts. Her practice does not exclude any medium and her conceptual and multidisciplinary approach provides a chance to all means of production. Her work is therefore often multidisciplinary and site-specific, engaging specific communities, questioning monetary values, or exploring the notions of exchange through which different social relations are established. While examining identity and intimacy, she explores the ways in which different actions of the body and especially the specific social, cultural, and urban spheres determinate human behaviour, influence our experience, and affect us.

Kurtela often uses situations from everyday life and places them into a different context in order to render them visible and expand their meaning. She is interested in dedication, duration, and time. She explores the idea of immaterial labour in relation to everyday life, engaging specific communities or using her own body in order to question the exclusiveness of art, which serves to erase the distinction between the makers and the observers. For the past few years, she has been actively exhibiting her work across Europe and has received numerous scholarships and awards.