Portrait of a Kelp Forest

A collaborative project with marine biologists, coastal communities and a kelp (2022)
Portrait of a Kelp Forest is a participatory, artistic research project that was carried out in Galicia (north-west Spain). With this project, the artist Elena Alonso Fernández portrays an essential element of this coast: kelp forests, one of the most productive ecosystems in the world. Following her idea of a portrait based on participation, Alonso Fernández worked with the people who know these algae best: the marine biologists engaged with their conservation and the coastal communities who have been in direct contact with them for decades. Alonso Fernández immersed herself in this ecosystem, dived with biologists and algae collectors, sailed with fishermen and interviewed several marine experts, documenting all these experiences and personal narratives with video.
Exhibition view Portrait of a Kelp Forest
Exhibition view "Portrait of a Kelp Forest" at gr_und (Berlin, 2022). Three-channel video installation.
This research indirectly flowed into her paintings, testimonies of the algae that now come to the surface in vibrant colors and become protagonists. But more than objects of observation, the kelp plays an active role in its own portrait. With the help of an underwater sensor, Alonso Fernández recorded the movements of the seaweed for two months. Using her paintings as a starting point, she employed creative coding to generate animations determined directly by the movements of the kelp, which can now be viewed in augmented reality (AR) in front of the paintings. The seaweed has become, through this process, co–author of the project.
AR work
AR work 24th Dezember 2021 - 6th Januar 2022
Kelp Forest, 2022
Kelp Forest (2022). 200 x 210 cm, oil on canvas
Laminaria Ochroleuca I
Laminaria Ochroleuca I, (2021), 130 x 160 cm, Oil on canvas
Kelp forest II
Kelp forest II (2022) 180 x 130 cm, oil on canvas
AR work
Exhibition view "Portrait of a Kelp Forest" at gr_und (Berlin). AR work in front of the painting "Laminaria Ochroleuca III"
Exhibition view "Portrait of a Kelp Forest". Three Channel video installation
Exhibition view "Portrait of a Kelp Forest" at gr_und (Berlin). Three Channel video installation
Many thanks to all the people and non-humans that made this project possible:
Iñaki Ferreiro González, Alex Alonso Fernández, Manuel E.Garci, Leticia Eirín, Berta Barreiro Ríos, Pepe Bernárdez Solla, Maria Cristina Piñeiro Corbeira, Sara Barrientos de la Llana, Rafa Bañón, Alberto Menduiña Vidal, Rogelio Santos Queiruga, Juan Carlon Santos Queiruga, Orlando Silva Riobo, Carlos Molanes Molanes, Manuel Blanco Germade, Julio Alonso Vázquez, Verónica Cazorla García, Vanesa Arias Castro, lago Asorey Blazquezy, Jose Luís Lorenzo García "Colón", Marian Marx, Marius Valentin Neuner, Marco Accardi, Anja Schiller, Ben Brix, Mathias Taupiz, the kelp Buraceira.
The project "Portrait of a Kelp Forest" was made with generous support from:
Berlin Senat
logos Bild Kunst, CSIC, IIM, Biocost, Iportunus, Neustart Kultur, UDC, BIC, Parque illas atlanticas, Kunstlerbund, Senat Berlin