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#4 The Gap

This is the fourth of a series of exploratory essays. With them I am aiming to connect the dots of my artistic practice and research endeavours.

There is a continuous movement, a driving force toward one side and then the other, circling
around an unattainable central-point. When I approach points of interest, something always
eludes itself, what I am aiming to reach moves away from me. What I desire to know turns out
more complex than I anticipated, forcing me to take a step back to see things in relation with each
other. It is just as my mother described in her notebook when I was an infant:

“Nele is crawling backwards, which means that she is moving away from the things she wants to

It was late in the afternoon, when I arrived.
A decent layer of snow,
covered the small town.
The surrounding landscape
had been swallowed by mist and darkness.
From my bedroom window,
I was told I could see the all encompassing mountains
– all I looked up to was an apparent emptiness.
(adapted from Franz Kafka’s Das Schloss)

Some clarities only come to me, when I am observing in a very specific situatedness – it is in those
moments that I experience things in their totality. I have read that at a certain age an infant starts
to experience their separatedness from the world around them. They are forming an idea of an ‘I’,
all of a sudden a border around themselves arises, sensing that they are situated within a separate
body. Before, everything appears as one big mesh. 1

Moving away from things, does not bring me to an end of my wandering – it solidifies a
perpetually changing in-between. Different sides and points appear, revealing transitions and
gradients that I relate to through the created distance. Situating the things I am looking at and
sensing their entangled relations clarifies and muddles at the same time. The awe I am
experiencing leaves me torn between wanting to know and feeling not knowledgeable enough to
even be where I already am standing.

January 2023

1 Siri Hustvedt, “Living, Thinking, Looking” (pp. 104-108, Sceptre 2013).

Nele Brökelmann

The Gap is the third iteration of Nele Brökelmann’s ongoing research trajectory Unstable Ground.

For The Gap, Nele travelled to the artist residency KH Messen in Ålvik (Norway) to engage with the natural forces during the month of January 2023. Ålvik is located at the Hardangerfjord, which formed a physical and experiential case study of the gap. The fjord, with the closest ferry in Kvanndal on a 12 km distance and no bridge in the proximity, provided an insurmountable distance that Nele explored, guided by the question: How do I experience this physical gap in-between the mountains and what might solidify in that, at least to me, unknowable territory?

Conducting such field-research-walks adds a layer of fragility and temporality to her Unstable Ground research. The natural forces she encounters unveil the limitations of the human body and of forcing our human structures and ideas on our environments.

Unstable Ground - The Gap and the residency at KH Messen were made possible with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union.

The research trajectory Unstable Ground developed from Nele’s residency at Witte Rook at the end of 2020. Starting off with the 3D animation and video essay: Platform | noun, often attributive (iteration 00) and 2D animation Unstable Ground (iteration 01). During the residency Nele explored how we as humans experience the world from the always already rootedness by other perspectives and enactment with others without explicitly knowing them.

In 2021, Nele started performing extensive field research walks along ‘border-regions’ during the residency Destination Unknown. During the walks she encounters the limitations of being human and the consequences of forcing natural forces into human structures. Difference across Distance (iteration 02), a book and exploratory installation, was informed by three long-distance walks. For one of the walks, Nele chose a (muddy) route along the river Meuse at the Dutch-German border just a few days after the major flood.

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