“Burning Sky”/ Pursue a – Dream Simone Aaberg Kærn SOLO at NAC Nordic Contemporary Art Center Xiamen, China 08.03 – 03.06 2023

The exhibition raises the existential question: How can we continue soaring under the canopy of our life-tree while the sky is aflame? Are we capable of such a feat? 

Burning Sky – Simone Aaberg Kærn 2023 NAC; CHINA

The exhibition “Burning Sky” explores the dilemma of flying physically and mentally while the world is facing a climate crisis. The artist, a Danish pilot, spent a month as an artist in residence at NAC Nordic Contemporary Arts Center, where she was inspired by the Banian trees with their air roots, large canopies, and often religious shrines underneath, which she encountered while trekking in the Fujian Mountains. 

The three-month period was graced with the presence of both local visitors and larger groups of art enthusiasts who joined us in the exploration of our poetic, military, and commercial use of airspace within the aesthetic confines of the exhibition.

“Burning Sky” portrays us moving through a beautifully incandescent cloudscape, the air burning orange to ash. We soar over terrains where it remains unclear if they are formed of cities, rocks, or organic matter. The concept of combustion is every pilot’s worst fear. Are we on the brink of incineration or will we rise like the Phoenix?


Burning Sky – Simone Aaberg Kærn 2023 NAC CHINA.

The exhibition projects the Burning Sky and the Tree onto physical sculptures and painted elements. Guided performative meditations are conducted under the tree and the canopy of the sky. Artistic debates and performative conversations, meditations, and guided flights explore the brain’s possibilities for creating advanced landscapes, future visions, and flying in them.

Burning Sky – Simone Aaberg Kærn Nordic Contemporary Arts center 2023


The exhibition raises aesthetic connections between complex issues surrounding women’s exclusion or restrictive access to “airspace” and income, the demands of poor people for food and basic prosperity in the face of climate challenges, and the challenges that the population of a country poses in terms of possible solutions and methods.

The exhibition is a critical processing of the artist’s large multi-year China project. It raises the question of how we can strive for freedom, adventure, and getting the poor out of poverty – symbolized by the airplane and the sky – while avoiding that our urge to freedom and the good life will turn the earth into a burning desert.

The geopolitical situation in the region near Taiwan during the exhibition period necessitated the change of the exhibition’s name from the evocative “Burning SKY – Flying Under Our Burning Canopy” to a less politically sensitive “Pursue a Dream”. The shift was essential due to the highly volatile political situation, and we took every measure to adapt while maintaining the integrity of the exhibition’s spirit while not risking the exhibition space or the people working withn it. 

Although the change in title may seem drastic, it reflects our collective effort to promote dialogue and understanding, even in a complex political climate. The original poster, adorned with the title “Burning Sky”, carried an optimistic blue color palette, creating a visual embodiment of hope and resilience.

However, the new poster for “Pursue a Dream”, while carrying an optimistic title, depicts a more somber image: a pilot couple navigating through a scorched landscape. This contrast perhaps serves as a metaphor for the dichotomy between our dreams and the realities we must navigate, an echo of the journey we embark on as artists, viewers, and participants in this shared world. We strive to portray the turbulence of our times and maintain a space for aesthetic exploration, introspection, and creative engagement.

Music guided mental flying meditations was conducted during the exhiition.


Flying Meditations, talks and performances during the Pursue a Dream/ Burning Sky Exhibition by SImone aaberg Kærn.


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