Daniel Steegmann Mangrané | Major survey show at the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma | 31 March – 10 Sept 2023

Daniel Steegmann Mangrané’s Finnish debut A Leaf Shapes the Eye opens at the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma on 31 March 2023. Presented over two vast floors of the museum, this major survey exhibition is the largest show of the artist’s work in the Nordic countries to date and encompasses collage, drawing, holograms, installation, moving image, photography, sculpture, sound and poetry.

Inviting visitors to question their perceptions of the world around us, Steegmann Mangrané (b. 1977, Barcelona), creates environments that they can experience with all their senses. By manipulating size and scale and incorporating light, colour, taste, and smell, the artist aims to disrupt the viewer’s usual ways of perceiving, leading them to question their surroundings and encouraging them to reflect on their own presence in the space. 

The fifth floor of the museum will be transformed into an immersive installation. Natural light will pour through blue coloured filters on the huge windows, creating a blue light that becomes a strangely tangible presence that changes and resets itself with the shifting light outside. The floor will be lined with blue carpeting, which denaturalizes and questions a typical museum space inviting the viewer to interpret their own reaction to the disorientating experience of the room. 
Other works continue this effect; Naranjas Naranjas (2001) is an installation where visitors can squeeze and drink orange juice in a pavilion with translucent, orange-coloured walls. While the smell and taste of oranges are familiar, the limited colour spectrum means that neither the fruit nor the juice look as we’d expect, dissolving the boundary between the work and its environment. 
Steegmann Mangrané has been based in Rio de Janeiro since 2004 and in his practice are numerous references to the rain forest in Brazil – branches, leaves, and insects – which interwoven with geometric forms and abstract motifs engender a reflection on the complex dynamics between the elements that surround us. In the film Phasmides (2008–2012) he investigates the relationship between abstraction and nature – what initially appears to be a branch is revealed to be a stick insect. The insects’ silhouettes appear and disappear and over the course of the film, and geometric forms become organic and organic forms reveal their geometry; the living seem inanimate and the inanimate infused with life.

Nature and artifice often meet in Steegmann Mangrané’s work. What is man-made and what is natural becomes unclear. For the artist, however, these are not opposites: humanity is part of nature, it is something we can’t place outside ourselves as if it were merely the backdrop to our lives. The rainforest is a metaphor for the interconnectedness of all things, and a museum is no longer a space for the accumulation of artefacts, isolated from reality – but a place where our relationship with the planet is reconfigured.

The exhibition is curated by João Laia, chief curator of temporary exhibitions at Kiasma and Hiuwai Chu, head of exhibitions at MACBA, with Piia Oksanen, curator of temporary exhibitions at Kiasma. The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication.
Daniel Steegmann MangranéA Leaf Shapes the Eye
31 March – 10 September 2023

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