The Moderna Exhibition 2014, Moderna Museet, Malmö
Participating artists: AaBbPp, Patrik Aarnivaara, Emanuel Almborg, Cezary Bodzianowski, Maja Borg, Eglė Budvytytė & Bart Groenendaal, Zenta Dzividzinska, Ugnius Gelguda & Neringa Černiauskaitė, Johanna Gustafsson Fürst, Joachim Hamou, Maj Hasager, Łukasz Jastrubczak, Laura Kaminskaitė, Tadeusz Kantor, Essi Kausalainen, Agnieszka Kurant, Anna Lundh, Henning Lundkvist, Maija Luutonen, Björn Lövin, J.O. Mallander, Jonas Mekas, Miks Mitrēvics & Kristīne Kursiša, Kristina Norman, Michala Paludan, Lea Porsager, Emily Roysdon, Imri Sandström, Algirdas Šeškus, Janek Simon, Ola Ståhl & Terje Östling, Mika Taanila, Anna-Stina Treumund & Marju Mutsu, Ola Vasiljeva, Visible Solutions LLC, Tris Vonna-Michell, Mette Winckelmann.
Curator: Andreas Nilsson. Co-Curator: Maija Rudovska. Assistant Curator: Julia Björnberg.
More news about: Johanna Gustafsson Fürst
Presenting new works on paper and metal composed of repeating and reflecting lines, Tottie can be said to question the divide between painting and drawing. The imperfections that arise from this free-hand exercise in drawing parallel lines become a reflection of their creators physiology in print. They are not only very effective optically, but – by accident – extremely associative in an almost hallucinatory way.
Currently professor at the Royal Institute of Art (KKH), Stockholm, Tottie has had a long career garnered with international attention since graduating from there in 1991, having previously studied at the Institut des hautes études en arts plastiques in Paris. Major solo exhibitions include Malmö Konstmuseum (1997 & 2011), Liljevalchs konsthall (2007), Göteborgs Konstmuseum (2002), DAAD Galerie Berlin (2001) and the legendary Konrad Fischer Galerie (2009), guest lectureship at Harvard University (2009–10), as well as participation in group exhibitions at MoMA (2010 & 2013) and Drawing Center, (2006), NYC.
Sophie Tottie — Time Is/Tid finns (exhibition text in Swedish)
”I am more than half way through my biological life and about half way through my creative life. I measure time as we all do, and partly by the fading body, but in order to challenge linear time, I try to live in total time.”
Under den tidsrymd det tar när järngallusbläck reagerar med luft och oxiderar får det sin blåsvarta färg. Men även om järngallusbläck fortsätter reagera efter att det omvandlats
i luften (med pappret på mycket lång sikt) var den kemiska processen inte egentligen en del av utgångspunkten för teckningarna ”Oxidopolis” och ”Oxid Square”. Istället var
det linjerna som först drev fram en visualisering av linjär
skrift och linjärt tänkande. Den linjära processen fortsätter
i överkorsandet men motorn här är att de sammanlagda linjerna ska göra tiden mer synlig i kraft av form, i en textur
av bläck. Teckningarna utvecklas på så sätt ur ett mekaniskt tillvägagångssätt som bygger på idéer om framsteg, rationalitet och logik. Under tecknandet förhåller sig linjerna också strikt till föregående linjer vars små avvikelser ger nästa linje. Men snarare än att frambringa läsbarhet och förklaring ger de hopräknade linjerna erfarenheter som inte är den sammanlagda summan av det logiska tillvägagångsättet. Istället uppstår erfarenheter av tid, material och rum där teckningarnas pendling som ett slags ”flip-bilder”/aspektseende förvånar mest. Linjernas bredd gör att färgbläckets djup endast framträder på stort avstånd eller genom fotografiets distans.
I avståndet växlar bläckets blåsvart färg från till synes fysiskt material till djupskapande representation för att vid närmare betraktelse växla tillbaka igen.
Järngallusbläck är liksom silverstift ett teckningsmaterial som varit känt sedan många århundranden men som i en del länder (som Sverige) verkar ha fallit i glömska sedan grafitens inträde och möjligheten att sudda uppstod. Silverstiftet ger en linje med en gråsvart ton som med tiden oxiderar och
blir brunsvart i sitt möte med luftens syre. ”Metal point”
(på svenska ung. metall stift) är en vidare beteckning för att teckna med ytterligare andra metaller såsom t.ex. koppar och dessa metaller ger andra färger än silvret i sitt möte med pappret eller grunden de appliceras på. Grunden
är av avgörande betydelse om man vill framhäva de olika metallernas färger men i ”White Lines (Metal Point)” I–IV försvinner nästan färgskiftningarna och teckningen ur vissa vinklar eftersom metallernas märken gjorts på en grund av endast lätt limmat papper.
Stålteckningarna ”White Lines (steel drawings) rattan texture” skiftar på ett liknande sätt när betraktaren rör sig framför
de tvådimensionella objekten där teckningen gjorts genom
att skrapa bort delar av grunden snarare än lägga till. Genom den bortskrapade ytan omvandlas betraktarens spegelbild dessutom till en skugga som genomskjuts av alternerande vertikala, horisontala och diagonala linjer – linjer som återkastar ljuset annorlunda beroende på vilken vinkel verken ses ur.
”Betraktar vi världen och oss själva annorlunda blir också världen och vi annorlunda.”
More news about: Sophie Tottie
Bringing a twist into the stylistic tradition of conceptual art born out of high (abstract) modernism, Alexander Gutke creates carefully choreographed analytical sculptural and cinematic situations that question our traditional understanding of “realism”.
His current solo exhibition features objects/sculptural works made between 2008-2014 and three recently finished videos, that all of which correspond to the idea and illusion of infinity in their own specific way.
The wall mounted Measure (2011), made from brass sheet, transforms a domestic object –the textile measuring tape– into a Möbius strip. As the twisted cylinder with engraved metric markings becomes both a poetic and deadpan metaphor of paradoxical nature that conveys the concept of the infinite surface, Folded Into One (2012) works with countable infinities. As an installation it presents variable configurations of the image of the universe squared and formatted as a heap of hundreds of stacked folded cardboard boxes. Printed both inside and out, the 3-dimensional collage is built as a modular system to be expandable through various arrangements that may spread out vertically and horizontally carrying the very same image of a starry sky.
Since the very beginning of his career, Gutke has been occupied with cinema’s material elements: the physical and technical characteristics of analogue film (light, celluloid filmstrip, screen and projector) and cinematic narrative. Three of his new videos from a series of five, Draw (2014), zoom in on some minimal theatrical spectacles of spontaneously combusting vintage matchbooks. Unfolding through changing image formats, Gutke`s seductive sequences, similarly to previous film-based works, reveal a studious process and dramaturgy. Held against a monochrome dark background, the torch-like fires appear like calibrated hourglasses measuring “their own time”, each burning, then fading away at a slightly different pace leaving only a smoke trail before the picture turns black again and the looped performance restarts
With an undeniable playfulness and self-irony, Gutke`s practice at large often challenge both our logic of viewing and the mechanisms of perception. Untitled (for Christian Andersson), a sculptural object from 2007 pays tribute to generous collegiality and to some enthusiastic late 90s experiments with two-way mirrors and light, recalling the novelty design lamps of 60s lounge lighting. Placed on the floor, the open box is equipped with light tubes, a mirror and a two-way glass, together creating the illusion of an infinite tunnel inside the box, which is revealed when one bends to look inside.
His new sculptural work Loud, loud (2014), made specifically for the exhibition, presents a 137,5% enlarged brass replica of a Marshall Amp volume knob displayed centrally on a large wall of its own, attuned to the scale and proportions of its immediate surroundings. Inspired by his subjective experience of a spectrum of noise qualities from unwanted random to expressive musical, and from loud to barely audible, the piece continues in a line of replica works with their considerable set of references to the heydays of analogue technology and music history.
More news about: Alexander Gutke
As the world is globalised the local is polarised, tribes become increasingly based on ideology rather than ethnicity. Kids from the same street wearing the same clothes express their belonging to different clans of the intellect (well…) by which hue they pick for their nylon Alpha Industries MA-1 military flight jackets: neo-nazis – green; graffers – blue; hoodlums – black; turks – red; gays – silver; et cetera. Presumably Orwell or Huxley could not have imagined how well the human aptitude for conformity would fulfil their aesthetic visions of dystopia.
Platform Stockholm, August 2011.
Maestro Mullan stands in the middle of an industrial courtyard, conducting a thundering sound performance from the sub-woofers of super-tuned Audis circled around him, their neon lights beaming in the black night. The species is different, but this is the exact same behaviour exhibited by the vivid birds of paradise or the peacock – male adolescents aesthetically signalling their reproductive advantages, in part by displaying a vulnerability; an invitation to attack.
Simon Mullan is attentive to these instinctive idiosyncrasies. Not for criticism or fetischism, just for observation.
More news about: Simon Mullan
Paintings and objects
Galleri Niklas Belenius is pleased to present Carl Michael von Hausswolff´s second solo exhibition at the gallery.
For the past several years Hausswolff has continued to explore the possibility of exposing different architectural and topographical settings with red light. The exhibition brings together five photographs from his Red series.
By photographing different settings using high-voltage red light, the image itself, or rather the subject of it, emanates from the means by which it is conveyed. The subject in question becomes transformed by its color bath into a real-world monochrome. The image thus becomes a painting in its own right through the monochromatic use of color where the transformative power of light and dark creates a painterly texture and nuance. The monochromatic surface also becomes an examination of changing values across the surface suggesting that repetition can in fact never produce the same meaning.
Even though the photographs offer no reference other than the viewer´s own, Hausswolff´s work is always rooted in a special relationship with the place itself. Red Dawn (2009) is portraying the ruins of German military leader Hermann Goering´s hunting lodge in the Kaliningrad area, Russia, (formerly Königsberg, Eastern Prussia). Through the forest the ruins of the former lodge is barely discernable, as the structure has slowly been erased by nature. By rewriting the history of a particular site brought to life with the color red, the image itself questions history´s disturbing sense of permanency. The overall tone is that of positive reflection on the ephemeral nature of existence and absence but one that never exceeds into nostalgia.
In one of the other recent photographs in the series, Red Cochineal (2007) several Nopal cacti are illuminated in the Mexican countryside. Here the almost invisible female shield louse, the cochineal, works as the extended narrative of the picture. The insect is used to produce Crimson dye; a strong, bright, deep red color that was particularly sought after in Central America in the 15th century by the Spaniards for coloring fabrics. The parasite became an important export product during the colonial period and contributed to the enslavement of the indigenous population by the colonialists. The picture is the resulting encounter between something that is transient in its contingency, yet charged with its own inherent history.
In addition, the newly published book RED (1999-2010) is released in conjunction with the exhibition and includes all red works in the photographic and installation series by Hausswolff, with text written by Daniel Birnbaum.
Thora Dolven Balke
Steinar Haga Kristensen
Anders Dahl Monsen
Reflected in a drop of oil
Curated by Linus Elmes
It was late fall 2009, we were a few Swedes who had strolled around Vigelands Park during the day and laughed at the sculptures. Someone in the group re-named Vigelands monument The Giant Dick and talked admiringly about the less famous brother, Emanuel Vigeland, who dedicated his life to building one of Oslo’s best-kept secrets; A mausoleum made in tribute to their mother with explicit sculptures and incestuous erotic scenes painted on the walls.
That night I stepped through the door of Freddy Knox1, an artist run space inside a backyard in Fredensborg. They had opened only a few weeks earlier and it must have been their second exhibition.
I did not expect to meet something so apart and characteristic as Heidi Johansen’s wildly starring Bart. Roughly hewed like a totem, painted in tone colours, and ready to dig into a Hot Dog he dislodged my logic. But Bart just stood there grinning without any consideration for my expectations. Clearly I was the outsider within this context and not him.
When I left Freddy Knox that night, where Bart the Absolute stayed behind with the others, it felt like I left behind a piece of my former life there with them. I parted from something and that feeling absorbed me completely. I pondered this while slowly walking away, left with a profound sensation. Like descending into deep water, all the way to the bottom and realising that only through seeking the cause itself, through intense self-reflection could the feeling be transformed into some sort of insight.
Bart had initiated an exhibition that would introduce six young Norwegian artists whom already had made their international breakthroughs to a Swedish audience. He had pointed out the direction, and all I had to do was follow his instructions…
It became an introduction to a number of artists and places interlinked by coincidences so fragile that they are almost unspeakable of. They are not included in a homogenous scene or a monumental movement. Although they belong to the same generation, they lack mutual idiom, case, themes and figures. Still it is a special coherence, with so many mutual experiences and shared memories. There is a connection between them and they have all engaged, individually, collectively and at different levels in an asymmetrical and instable scene that is both the product and simultaneously the logical consequence of being an artist here. Not just by expressing something of themselves, through themselves and defining their own place, but also by creating an individual coherence and at the same time pronouncing that the whole institutionalised exclusive outlook on art is really enough not to be an artist at all.
An art scene can be composed of a series of independent factors such as expression, degree of priority, intensity, concept of reality or critical standpoint in relation to society and institutions, the degree of psychological insight and spiritual state, technological skilfulness and visionary strength as well as a variety of other qualities. But a series of successive independent individuals with various different temperaments, emotional lives; levels of knowledge, preferences and tastes also compose a scene. These artists have got a common base of experience through their shared environment. They have grown up in Norway during the good years. They have, apart from a few exceptions, attended the same school. They have grown up with movies about computer hackers uttering lines such as: “Fuck with the best – die like the rest”. They have grown up in a country where the prime minister has proclaimed that a winning mentality is a national trait. In numerous ways it is ‘new money’ and cheerfully populist, not to mention that the massive support for FRP constitutes an expression for naïve thoughtlessness.
But at the same time there are intelligent counter-movements in Norwegian society, like Georg Johannesen’s, whose wrath rages against an ‘industry of stupidity’. For instance he has said, loosely translated from Norwegian, that the texts in newspapers are a dream, dreamed by American ladies with shares in the war industry. And that is true. I am not claiming that Norway, or Oslo with its frozen pizza, heavy metal, oil billions, Christianity and immigrated labouring Swedes is more weird, schizophrenic or contradictory than any other country. Or maybe it is? Oslo is a city where in principal it is impossible to get eatable food despite very good ingredients. At the same time there are isolated gourmet phenomena like Tim Wendelboe, manifold barista champion who serves sensationally good coffee. It is like finding a pearl in a fetid, dead clam. So there definitely exist totally unique characteristics and I think that the environment and the climate, even in their most banal components must affect which type of art and artists that are produced.
Anders Smebyes Noll is a replica of Jan Teigens stage costume from the Eurovision Song Contest 1974, a ceremonial shaman costume designed for a journey towards the origin of Norwegian folk soul. Later in the 70s, Jan Teigen won Eurovision Song Contest with the song Mile after Mile and went to Paris to represent Norway in the final. Even though greatly optimistic to the chance of victory he left with zero points. Despite this, or maybe because of this enormous defeat, Teigen reached cult status. “ He became a fantasy fixed star who never died out but instead just rose and rose.[…] Everyone was expected to have an opinion about this Norwegian faun, the satyr in Willoch’s pasture. Teigen was a suburban Dionysius from the nine-to-five working and phone queuing monopoly-regulated Norway. A collective safety regulator for the sublime in the protestant work ethic, representing the ecstatic, positively irrational and playful in the structurally rationalized technocratic socialist state.”2
Since I moved from Stockholm to Oslo to become director of UKS I have often been asked to define what separates these two Nordic capitals. It is a silly question. Everything differs: The language, the nature, the culture, the character, the debate, the wealth, the perspective, the temperature, the immigration policy, the humour, the pace, the pondering, the thinking, the drinking, the fiddling, the itching, the fucking, the gossiping, the doing, the finding, the making, the creating, the heckling, the developing…
Norway and Sweden are no more alike than Dubai and Albania. (Sweden is by the way called the Albania of Scandinavia) What do you know about Norway? Do you know how it feels to breath the air in Oslo? Have you seen the wall where it says: “PARTY SWEDES; GO HOME”? Can you imagine what it is like where you never been? Did Carl Larsson know what it was like to be Christian Krogh? Can you compare Munch with Zorn?
The geography of thought has got its own map. It has been a privilege to be introduced to new places such as Dortmund Bodega3, a previous strip club on Grünerløkka, now an exhibition space for art. It is as close to nihilism as you can get in contemporary art. It is not, as many might think, a question about low culture versus high culture, it is against all culture. Leander Djønne sits behind the brown bar wearing a lusekofta and carves dried reindeer meat with an enormous knife. And it is a damn big deal, for real, in life.
The early 21st century has produced a large number of artist run spaces in Oslo, Rekord, Dortmund Bodega, Freddy Knox and Bastard are just a few. There are great examples of next to anti-mythical dimensions. Sverre Strandberg and Anna Daniell have been running “Planka” at home in their kitchen. It is what it sounds like, a plank in the ceiling where they invite artists and curates epic exhibitions. The epitome and presence of these initiatives constitutes a crucial part of the art scene here, it is impossible to deny their power, they are premise-providers and they have positioned themselves as such important players that the Cultural Affairs and Cultural Council now runs a three-year long pilot with full funding of artist-run spaces. Within this context, two of these initiatives are worth looking closer at. Bastard, run by Anders Smebye and Rekord where Thora Dolven Balke was one of the initiators.
Rekord was started in collaboration between Ingvild Langgård, Erin Støen and Thora Dolven Balke in 2007. According to themselves they were driven by a need to challenge the defined power within the established commercial galleries and institutions that they felt dominated the art scene in Oslo at that time. Rekord has founded several young important artistic careers and have at times filled the role of the larger institutions by exhibiting young, Norwegian artists alongside international, dead and forgotten, or more established artists. Rekord has not reduced visual art to theoretical concepts but have instead confronted the audience with vulnerability and humanity. Real or constructed, live or framed, aesthetic or dirty, explicit or inaccessible, they have let the artists work on their own terms.
Anders Smebye started Bastard in 2005, and the name itself implies a hybrid of some kind, between art and life. Bastard has operated equally as a place for social events as for exhibitions. The exhibitions have often had simple and raw expression, concluded in appropriation, theft and low-budget production. While it has been one of the most important art spaces in Oslo for a long time it has also periodically functioned as Anders’s studio and housing. Art and life, life and art.
I have had the privilege to take part in this scene, to get to know it and in some way also become part of it. On one occasion I was invited as a speaker to a marathon-seminar session, “The Parallel Action4” at Bastard. 37,5 hours of uninterrupted lectures, matching the duration of a Norwegian working week. I talked about Truth and was supposed to wear a red clown nose but instead Anders Smebye taped half a passion fruit to my face. Bread, soup and beer were served. The audience were wrapped up in blankets after a long night.
Somebody told a story about an artist who was the personal assistant of a mentally retarded guy with a very vivid imagination. On a day off his phone rings and on the other line he hears a very excited and proud voice. You have to come over, you have to come over, I caught a troll. He explains that it is his day off and he cannot come over but nothing seems to be helping. The voice repeats the same thing with increasing excitement. You have to come over, you have to come over, I caught a troll. You have to come over, you have to come over, I caught a troll. He eventually goes over, steps into the hallway and sees the bathroom door barricaded with furniture. Together they hastily remove everything. When they finally open the door he discovers a dwarf standing there with a collection box in his hand.
Anders Dahl Monsens allegorical abuse of one of the 17th century’s most important socialist slogans hung on one of the walls. According to rumour he is the laziest artist in Norway and you could try to interpret that, but I do not think it matters. He portrays a condition that is the effect of abundance. It sheds light on the class issue in a country with an enormous oil wealth and which already in 1821 – the same year as Louis Vuitton was born – revoked nobility in the assembly so no one no longer could enjoy class related privileges. Today it is completely classless to own a Louis Vuitton handbag in Oslo.
The Norwegian oilfields have beautiful names such as Eldfisk, Embla and Albuskjell, and every year Statoil hands out a big art price. Maybe the world could have been different if the result of a meeting about territorial boundaries in the North Sea between the Danish and Norwegian foreign ministers in 1963 would have resulted in another way. The Danish foreign minister Per Haekkerup was a legendary drinker and notorious for his wild parties in the ministry. His Norwegian colleague Halvard Lange was the complete opposite, orderly and dutiful. When the treaty was finally signed in Oslo, Denmark had voluntary renounced the area where Norway later found its first and largest oil finds,
Eskofiskfältet. Stian Ålandsvik has submerged in the political affair and has identified it as the critical point in history where Norway assimilated its wealth. The division was based on the centre-line policy that was established as one of two basic principles at the Geneva Convention in 1953. Denmark practised this policy in all of its division negotiations during the 50’s but could have insisted on the other main policy in the Geneva Convention that was based on sea-depth. With this set-up the territorial border would have been different and Norway would have lost major parts of these important oil finds and we would have had to write another kind of history. The empty Johnnie Walker bottle that Per Haekkerup consumed during the meeting is now kept in a secret room in the National museum in Oslo as a holy relic.
If there is logic in all of this it is my own. A subjective iconography made of informal points of reference. All names mentioned of people and places are important parts of a scene and extensions of a structure and a society. This introduction is a cut-out, a segment of what is happening in Oslo right now, and it describes something about the mechanisms and functions in motion.
When I saw Thora Dolven Balkes works for the first time in Elmgreen and Dragset’s staging of an art collector’s home up for sale (presented in the Venice Biennale in 2009) I had never met her. (Maybe once?) If you where there you might remember the two high-backed green couches with a low table in between them, on top of which a yellow family album with polaroid pictures (Safety Measures) was placed. Elmgreen and Dragset used them as uncanny reminders of a family album, and as a narrative element. The pictures in the album were alive regardless of me and just like images in a dream, they escaped every conscious glance. Later on Thora and I have become friends, but parts of her personal history I know best through her pictures. I think of them as diary notes, they tell an essential story and give us access to a greater insight to society as well as to the individual. Did she look like that? Has she got a new boyfriend? If there exists an unconscious Norway of dreams then this is it. Is it possibly a love story? Like all love stories it is hopeless to write because the object of love is impossible to subsume and classify. The loved one cannot be caught in some kind of stereotype. “The loved one is Astonishing, the special Image that miraculously appears like an answer to the unique in my desire5” I love people who sing even though they should be crying. I love people who don’t do what they should. It ought to be forbidden to follow the rules.
Steinar Haga Kristensen doesn’t follow any rules. I curated his solo exhibition at UKS in 2009. That time we struggled with the exhibition text and countless versions were sent back and forth. Steinar had commissioned music from a composer and had written a libretto. Two opera singers and a harpist acted as visitors from the future. They had travelled back to see Steinar’s exhibition because in the future, it marked the critical moment when contextual relativism succumbed. They walked around in the exhibition and celebrated each piece. It was about an idle running sensibility-factory, about how we no longer can stomach anything that lasts. For me it was not only the content itself and the relation to what existed before but also the utilisation of the time aspect that was important. To move the storyline forward and let it play out in the future, if only just suggestively, creates a kickback in history. Steinar represents a historical heritage; he is the essence of the Christiania-bohemian, a descendant in a declining rank, but maybe the other way around, reversed, reciprocal and explicit at the same time when he ritualises the studio situation in a private gesture.
Deconstruction. Starvation. Desperation. We are lost. Ladies and gentlemen, we are lost. A fanfare.
Toot. Toot. Tooot-toot-toot. Toot-tooot-toot-toot. Toot-toooot-toot-toot toooot-toot-toot-toot-toooot toot-toot. Toooot-toot-toot. Toot. Toot-toooot-toot-toot-toooot-toot-toot.Toot-toooot-toot-toot-toooot-toooot-toot-toot. Toot-tooot-toot-toot-toooot-toooooot-toot. Toot-toooot-toot-toot-toooot-toot-toot. Toot-toot-toot-toooot-toot-toot. Toot-toooot-toot-toot-toooot-toot-toot. Toot-toooot-toot-toot-toooot-toot-toot. Toot-toooot-toot-toot-toooot-toot-toot. Toot -toot-toot. Toot-toot-toot. Toooot-toot-toot. Toot-toooot-toot-toot.
Linus Elmes, Oslo
Galleri Niklas Belenius is pleased to present the second solo exhibition at the gallery by John Duncan.
In the installation The DREAM HOUSE each room is specifically designed to evoke a specific state of consciousness. Assembled together they form a multi-story structure based on the form of the human brain. The exhibition will include new works such as several tableaux pieces and abstract drawings portraying the different ‘chambers of the mind’. Duncan portrays his work as a catalyst confronting the viewer with questions about human existence where the revealing reactions and experiences perceived by the audience contributes to the work itself. His unrestrained exploration and interaction with the deepest layers of the human psyche and the traumatic invites the participants to reflect on hidden emotional responses. Duncan is a multi-media artist and has gained notability for his forceful work with sound. His body of work span from confrontational performance events to installations and video art. For this exhibition he has chosen an exclusively visual form of expression.
Excert from a talk with John Duncan prior to The DREAM HOUSE exhibition.
NB: Your work is often actively inviting and challenging the viewer to participate in a process of investigation and self-discovery. What do you wish the audience to experience when visiting The DREAM HOUSE?
JD: What I wish to experience, as a visitor, is a different way to conceive the processes going on in my head, to consider how they’re connected or lead into each other, the possibility of recombining them. The overall structure of The DREAM HOUSE is based on the physical structure of the human brain, with room modules dedicated to specific behaviors, placed in areas of the building that correlate to where they’re known or thought to be in the actual brain.
NB: Your practice has been perceived to engage in existential research and in many ways to inquire into the hidden aspects of human nature. Can you elaborate on this statement?
JD: I can say that I think of art as a tool, a method to expand that research and take it further, that the research itself is what’s essential.
NB: A certain shock-value has been associated with your practice throughout your artistic career. Is there any parallel between how you use these ´´provocative´´aspects with the intent to create a reaction or participation from your audience?
JD: Again, what’s essential is the research. What I do in my work is to deal with situations that I’m faced with in some way in life, to find ways to ‘work through’ them. What I hope to see as a participant in these presentations is a moment where I learn something, percieve differently. I don’t see the situations in art that I set up as ‘provocations’; I see them as offerings, portals, open to anyone willing to go further than a cursory summing up of their own psychic makeup, to learn what we can from the experiences they catalyse. Sometimes the unexpected, shock or other forms of confusion, is part of the process, a collateral effect that doesn’t last. Unless the participant feels threatened by it, which is a part of her or his own psyche and is her or his responsibility to manage.
John Duncan was born in the United States in 1953, has lived and worked in Tokyo and Amsterdam and currently resides in Bologna where he teaches audio art at the Accademia delle Belle Arti. His events and installations have recently been held at Färgfabriken and Gallery Niklas Belenius in Stockholm, Ex-Teresa in Mexico City, XSNOSA in Palermo, Netmage 7 in Bologna, PX2 and PX3 in Piombino, O’Artoteca in Milan, Atlantic Waves in London, The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Boston, Eco e Narciso in Turin, MUTEK in Montreal, The Compound in San Francisco, Teatro Fondamenta Nuova in Venice, Teatro Piccolo Jovinelli in Rome, the Noorlands Operan in Umeå, Fylkingen in Stockholm, the 2nd Gothenburg Biennial and Galleria Enrico Fornello in Prato. He has performed with Musica Nova in Tel Aviv and Zeitkratzer in Berlin, directing these ensembles in live events. His CD releases THE CRACKLING (1996 with Max Springer), TAP INTERNAL (2000), PALACE of MIND (2001 with Giuliana Stefani), FRESH (2002 with Zeitkratzer), PHANTOM BROADCAST (2002), INFRASOUND-TIDAL (2003), THE KEENING TOWERS (2003) and NINE SUGGESTIONS (2005 with Mika Vainio and Ilpo Väisänen, a.k.a. Pan Sonic) are all considered by critics and composers alike to be benchmarks in the field of experimental music. His work in radio, video and performance has been shown recently at the Getty Center (Evidence of Movement and California Video) as well as the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles (Out of Actions:Between Performance and its Objects, 1998); the Osterreichisches Museum für Angewandte Kunst (MAK), Vienna; Museu d’Arte Contemporani, Barcelona (MACBA); and Museum of Tokyo (MOT)