End of Dreams - Portrait Series (2015), pigment print on Hahnemuehle Photo Rag, 120cm x 90cm
Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen has worked on the issues and dangers of migration in different geographies for a number of years. His most recent production End of Dreams — produced during a residency at the Italian art organization, qwatz — is an ode to the countless lives that have been lost by those attempting to traverse the Mediterranean Sea in order to reach Europe.
Initially envisioning End of Dreams as a sculptural installation, in 2014 Larsen began his work by submerging 48 concrete-canvas sculptures off the coast of Pizzo Calabro in Calabria, South Italy. The plan was to allow these sculptures, which are reminiscent of wrapped bodies, to slowly acquire a patina of sea organisms. They were then to be removed from the sea and exhibited as a sculptural constellation marked by the wear and tear of the sea.
During the making of the work an unanticipated violent storm ravaged the raft that was holding the structures in place and their remnants were scattered across the seabed and onto nearby beaches. Some disappeared altogether. Larsen believed that the intervention of nature brought the process of the work's production even closer to the feelings of trauma and peril he was trying to express, adding to the narrative of the piece, and so following the storm he hired divers to film the scene and collect the sculptures that could be found.
Larsen made a series of photographic portraits of the sculptures exposing the wounds, cuts and scratches the objects developed after having been violated by the forces of nature.