John Duncan — The Dream House


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)