Catharsis


A large-scale immersive contemporary art installation, that pulls audiences into a digital simulation of a re-imagined old-growth forest by Danish artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen.


Serpentine Galleries
Kensington Gardens, London UK

14 January - 31 May 2020



Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Catharsis, Serpentine Gallery, London (2019-2020) © 2019 courtesy of the artist.


 Producer: Alex Boyes/AB Curatorial Design

Artist: Jakob Kudsk Steensen

Sound Artist: Matt McCorkle

Curators: Kay Watson, Eva Jäger, Ben Vickers

Supported by CONNECT, BTS

Additional CGI Production: Werkflow

Website Development Black Shuck

Content type: Visual Art, Technology


Catharsis immerses audiences within a digital simulation of a re-imagined old-growth forest, a forest that has developed undisturbed over hundreds of years without human intervention.

Based on fieldwork undertaken by Jakob Kudsk Steensen and his primary collaborator Matt McCorkle, the work’s virtual ecosystem and synchronised audio comprises of 3D textures and sounds gathered from several real world North American forests.



Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Catharsis, Serpentine Gallery, London (2019-2020) © 2019 courtesy of the artist.

Set up as a single continuous shot that moves from the watery underground roots to the surveying viewpoint of the canopy, Catharsis draws on Steensen’s conception of ‘slow media’ whereby digital technologies can foster attention to the natural world and create new narratives about our ecological futures.

This was the first time Catharsis was presented in London as part of and supported by the international exhibition CONNECT, BTS that connected five cities; London, Seoul, Berlin, Buenos Ares and New York. The original version of Catharsis was commissioned by the Pinchuk Foundation in 2019.


Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Catharsis, 2019-20 (Installation view, 14 January 2020 Serpentine Galleries) © Photo: Hugo Glenndinning.


 Catharsis was displayed in three consecutive stages; indoors, outdoors and online. Each version represented the same digital narrative and perspective, but interpretation and physical design changed each time to best support accessibility and successful visitor reception.

The final version of Catharsis was presented as a major outdoor installation on the grounds of the Serpentine Galleries' Zaha Hadid-designed extension, set against the beautiful green spaces of Kensington Gardens.


Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Catharsis, Serpentine Gallery, London (2019-2020) © 2019 courtesy of the artist.
© AB Curatorial Design 2020 — London, United Kingdom