Belenius

The works by Gustafsson Fürst revolve around the materialisation of political content and the representation of policies. In a sober activist spirit her work departs from found objects and obtainable materials, perpetually exploring and reworking into sculptural language. The works embrace and fortify the materials, which constitute the investigations inherent in her practice, thus flexing a discourse on the consensus of how aesthetics, content and communication are staged as a presence in society.

Gallery Niklas Belenius is proud to present Johanna Gustafsson Fürst’s second solo exhibition The Fall. The exhibition consists of a series of sculptures from a new project, as a starting point: two classical works which pay homage to the heroic deeds of six men, the sculpture series by Auguste Rodin The Burghers of Calais (1888) and the photograph Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima (one of the worlds most reproduced images) by Joe Rosenthal (1945). Gustafsson Fürst draws on these stories, not only on what they communicate but also on the events surrounding their creation. The works generate political coordinates while manifesting images of the political.

When the city of Calais commissioned Rodin to create a commemorating sculpture to the rich burgher, who was the first to sacrifice himself, in order to halt the English siege of the city in 1348, he chose to portray all six burghers, who as a group, surrendered to the enemy. He also insisted on a modest and low base so that the sculpture would be level with the viewer and he opted to reproduce 11 copies of the work, which were subsequently placed around the world. In Candida Höfer’s work Twelve (2000) all reproductions are photographed by the artist, as a means to focus on how the sculptures generate a complexity of content to a specific site, for example, how discrepancies in plinth height inform its reading. Rodin’s choice of representation, at the time, had radical conceptual undertones, revealing a critical reflection and understanding of both heroicness and sculpture. It suggested a liberation of sculpture from architecture and placing it in the space itself, with the people.

In both the Iwo Jima photograph and in The Burghers of Calais an essential duality is depicted as the seemingly humble burgher who goes to meet his death is also privileged enough to be able to choose to act selflessly, thus the opportunity to become a hero. But is this perhaps even an obligation? What constitutes an act of heroism today? The sculptures by Gustafsson Fürst stages the slow decay of the western worlds secular traditions as well as the gradual dismantling of past ideologies, simultaneously she examines the social conditions for carrying out heroic deeds and the possibility to create new types of heroes.

Text by Diana Kaur

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Willem Andersson

In the picture world of Willem Andersson the viewer is drawn into various emotionally charged spaces. We find the characters in a kind of absurd theatre where human existence loses its purpose and all communication falls apart. A seductive calm beyond time and place appears in the silence and in the act of waiting for something you know never will happen. The averted, shaded and hidden glances convey an abiding sense of loneliness and isolation.

In Andersson’s painting the expected structure is broken down and leaves behind an entire world of associations. The classical idiom of the portrait with focus on accurate depiction becomes the starting point for a reflection over a general questioning of our identity, and where a literal need for invisibility cast a pale haziness over the depicted. But the dreamlike fogginess does not cast a shadow over the memory of the past where the individual identity finally reveals that all the perceived differences are similar for all of us.

Art Brussel

27.04—01.05.2011

Julieta Aranda
Thora Dolven Balke
Lovisa Ringborg
Patrik Qvist

All things fall and are built again
and those that build them again are gay. [1]

The exhibition of artist Björn Kjelltoft at Gallery Niklas Belenius is a theatrical representation with the relationship plot at its heart. The end of a relationship and the idea of entropy form the dual engine in this story, driven by a set of dramatic events.

“Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction and our ego satisfaction in consumption. We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced and discarded at an ever-increasing rate.” These words could easily be used to describe the current state of affairs, but were in fact uttered by economist and retail analyst Victor Lebow in 1955.[2] Today, the cycles of consumption, waste, and desire raise more complex and blurred questions than the standardized and clear-cut opposition between good and bad values.

The title of the exhibition, I Promise, I Will Never Be Your Friend. No Matter What, Ever… is culled the movie Hotel Chevalier by Wes Anderson. The film begins with a scene set in a hotel room in which a bittersweet break-up takes place. The beautiful but callous Natalie Portman goes through the motions of a break-up, while the helpless protagonist plays his role in order to complete the circle. This is of course what is to be expected from the relationship plot; a set of events should take place in which people form relationships or, as in this case, relationships fall apart. Hotel Chevalier thus forms the backdrop for the relationship plot to be played out. I Promise, I Will Never Be Your Friend. No Matter What, Ever… proposes a poetic understanding of the ambivalent relationship between the consumer and the brand.

A slideshow presents a series of photographs of a Dunkin’ Donuts paper napkin gradually dissolving in water, a lazy stop-motion animation. It is a beautiful depiction of entropy, and plays out the eternal battle between order and chaos. Hypnotizing, like staring into the fire, the shifting constellations of watery paper veil and unveil the familiar pink and orange letters of Dunkin’ Donuts logo. The symbolic value of the brand decomposes into a weak matter, becomes ambiguous and takes on a softer and more humane shape. It disintegrates, just like us. It becomes a multidimensional proposition. The oscillation between soft and hard values are also played out in the “soft” letters of the Dunkin’ Donuts logo and the “hard” words being exchanged in the hotel room scene. A series of white curtains embossed with fragments of the dialogue mimics the sporadic showing and hiding of ambiguous words set in candy colored letters.

I Promise, I Will Never Be Your Friend. No Matter What, Ever… suggests a link between the dramatic structure of a love relationship falling apart and the relationship in consumerism. “I will never be your friend” states a simple and clear “no”, one which is undermined by a greater, more fundamental (and elusive) “yes”.

Marianne Zamecznik

[1] From William Butler Yeats poem “Lapis Lazuli” 1935.
[2] Victor Lebow, “Price Competition in 1955” (Journal of Retailing, Spring 1955)

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´´The only controls available to those on board were two push-buttons on the center post of the cabin – one labeled on and one labeled off. The on button simply started a flight from Mars. The off button connected to nothing. It was installed at the insistence of the Martian mental-health experts, who said that human beings were always happier with machinery they thought they could turn off.´´

–Kurt Vonnegut, ´´The Sirens of Titan´´

There are two traditionally rival views about the nature of time: the view based in materialism, that understands time to be a substance that exists independently of events located in it, and the relationist view, according to which time is constructed out of events, and exists merely as a measure of change.

Julieta Arandas work is often concerned with time and the conditions of subjectivity, and on her exhibition at Niklas Belenius ´´Between timid and Timbuktu: (a time without events)´´she explores the conflicting propositions about time to try and understand a space positioned between change an possibility, a temporal vacuum functioning as a ripe nothingness, where subject, event and truth could be produced.

In the Timaeus, Plato presents us with an account of the ´birth of time´, this being the first motion of the heavenly bodies, thus making an identification between time and change. Aristotle objects to this, arguing that time could not be the same thing as change, for first change can go at different rates, but not so time, and secondly change is confined to a part of space whereas time is universal.

A returning question for Julieta Aranda is what does it mean to talk about ´´one’s own time´´? On her current work, the frozen reflections of mirrors into mirrors, printed on mirrors, argue for an equivalence between ´´empty time´´ and ´´time without change´´. She investigates time as a non-measurable concept, where, in her own words, ´´time independent of change means that instead of infinite delay, the present becomes a space of infinite action that is not contractually bound to “what has been´´ and ´´what there is to come´´. And as a nod to the substantivalist view of time, she borrows the title of a fictional poetry book that appears in Kurt Vonnegut?s novel, Sirens of Titan, (´´Between Timid and Timbuktu´´, a title derived from the fact that all the words between timid and Timbuktu in very small dictionaries relate to time.)

According to Aristotle, attempts to stop time are futile, for we cannot stop change. But what if all change were to stop? Would that be the end of time too?

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Galleri Niklas Belenius is proud to present a solo exhibition with Sten Hanson, showing both old and new visual works.

Sten Hanson began his career in the early 1960s as a pioneering figure in experimental music, performance, literature and art. The text-sound-visual image, often combined with intensely personal ‘live” performances, are vital ingredients in Sten Hanson’s artistic workmanship and he is one of the forerunners in the field of multi-media art. His highly personal visual text-sound works brings together the timeliness of the written language with the manipulation of the concept of time through music.

A special edition box in edition of 25, each including an original work by Sten Hanson will be presented at the exhibition.

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Art Copenhagen

16.09—18.09.2011

Ulrika Gomm
Ivana Franke
Julieta Aranda
Carl Michael von Hausswolff
Lovisa Ringborg
Aids-3D (Kosmas & Keller)

NB: Quote: “All forms of my work are created to raise questions, to find out everything I can about who I am without fear or judgment, and to encourage you to do the same”. Can you evaluate the above quote in relation to the ICONS?

JD: It could be seen as a comment on how little we know, or want to know, about our own origins.

NB: Can you evaluate on the symbolic value embedded in the word Icon (connotations of religious works of art / worshiping and in the modern sense)

JD: I see all of those aspects in these images.

NB: Art and sex is a subject that is well represented in the history of art. Are these works in essence about sex/sexuality? And if so, where does these works sit within that particular canon?

JD: They’re about assembled knowledge with essential details that are missing.

NB: In what way, if at all, do you place these works within a feminist perspective?

JD: I don’t even try, or care to. I like to believe that these, and in fact all my works, have a far broader perspective than a feminist point of view could possibly include.

NB: Why have you chosen to represent the female gender and not the male?

JD: I am fascinated by the vagina as the source for us all, many of whose processes remain beyond our comprehension. The same could be said for the male gender, of course, but I live with that so it’s less of a mystery — and I explored it quite a bit in my early work.

NB: What about the women photographed, is it significant for you who they are, and how did you describe the project to them?

JD: Their identities make no difference. In the process of photographing them, it was interesting to see that each woman’s vagina, at least these images of them, seemed to convey the opposite to their personalities. On their own, the images have a presence that needs no further explanation.

NB: Could you describe how these “objects” were made?

JD: Several friends and acquaintances were told about the original project and asked to model for it. The photos were shot on infrared film, to read heat from the body as light. The originals are 3m x 4m, accompanied by drawings of them made with my blood on heavy paper.

NB: Is there any specific part of the process of making these “objects” that stands out to you, as specifically relevant? And could you describe the importance of the materials used?

JD: The most relevant aspect of the Jigsaw Puzzles is that, despite decades of intimate contact, I seem to know less now than ever about the makeup of the feminine character. Evidence is overwhelming that I am in no way unique in that.

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During the latter half of the 19th century there existed a curious, overlooked perverse and cruel form of anthropological exploiting. In imitations of small villages, exotic native inhabitants were placed out in the public gaze of curious Europeans. Paul Gauguin loved the human zoo as much as he loved the shows of Buffalo Bills Wild West. These two factors combined made him travel to Tahiti dressed in a cowboy hat and with the easel under his arm.

Today most people are unified in the belief that the primitivism, regardless of the beautiful rhetoric in which Baudelaire and Rousseau enclosed themselves, was mostly kitsch and clichés. Navin Rawanchaikul does exactly like Paul Gauguin but the other way around. Rather than being inspired by our strange and exotic culture he incorporates it with the use of his own aesthetic references.

It is same same but different when Rawanchaikul inspects Stockholm in general and our art life in particular. In the selected scenes of the paintings a recognisable register of characters appears, though produced in a form that is unrecognisable to us. An environment freed from cultural conventions emerges in Navin:s representation of us that offers a much needed humoristic distance.

Navin Rawanchaikul, born in 1971 in Chang Mai, follows up on the Navinland Pavillion as Thailand´s official representative at this year’s Venice Biennale with his second solo exhibition at the gallery. The exhibition will hold both new works from the Biennale such as Mission Navinland (2011) and Navinland Needs You (2011) as well as older works for example Fly with Me to Another World (To be Continued) 2008. Also for the exhibition, Navin has created a Navinland Comic where he embarks on an action filled trip to Stockholm. The Comic picks up on the painting Navinland where he has depicted many of his dear friends from Sweden.

Rawanchaikul is well known for his dynamic practice that often directly engages the public through interventions and social comments. He often involves, as in this exhibition, the local community and individual experiences in his fictive narrative. Furthermore he has enjoyed international recognition and participated in a number of major exhibitions at prestigious institutions and galleries including: New York´s P.S.1 Contemporary Art Centre (2001), Palais de Tokyo in Paris (2002), Jim Thompson Art Centre in Bangkok (2006), Sakshi Gallery in Mumbai (2008) and Beijing´s Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art (2009).

He has participated in international exhibitions and festivals, a list that includes Sydney Biennale (1998), Lyon Biennale (2000), SMAK Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (2000), Yokohama Triennale (2001/2005), Shanghai Biennale (2002), Sao Paulo Biennale (2004), Liverpool Biennale (2004), Nuit Blanche Paris (2006), Prospect.1 New Orleans (2008), Tate Triennale (2009), Aichi Triennale (2010) as well as the Singapore Biennale and the Venice Biennale (2011).

Rawanchaikul´s works are housed in the collection of several renowned collections and museums including Sweden´s Moderna Museet, Magasin 3 Stockholm, Foundazione Sandretto Re Rebaundengo per L´Arte in Italy, FRAC and Le Consortium in France, Pinchuk Art Centre in Ukraine, The UBS Art Collection in Switzerland, Inhotim in Brazil, Queensland Art Gallery in Australia, Japan´s Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Bank of Singapore and the Singapore Art Museum, as well as numerous private collections worldwide.

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Artissima, Turin

03.11—06.11.2011

Willem Andersson
Emanuele Becheri
Miriam Bäckström
John Duncan
Johanna Gustafsson Fürst
Johan Strandahl
Aids-3D (Kosmas & Keller)