I will briefly describe works I made before going to the Piet Zwart institute and works made during my stay. I will also examine the distinction between my making practice and thinking practice, and where these two overlap.
Three recent works
“Departure” is a collection of sixteen found boxes that can be opened and closed. The smallest box is about 7x7x7cm, the largest is about 45x14x30cm. The boxes are made of wood and metal. Inside are small grass hills, or islands, made from materials used in model building. As I find more boxes, the installation grows. Each is a part of a minimal visual story, a story that unravels itself when glancing inside. An open ended record on longing, motion, and disappearing. “Tower” is a beam of maple, 5x5x180cm. Each side is engraved with shapes similar to windows. The bottom hangs about half a centimeter from the floor. It is suspended from the ceiling by a thin blue rope normally used in mountain climbing. It is tied with a knot to a hook, some excess rope is visible. It is unclear if the beam is leaning on the floor, or hanging slightly above it. While waiting for the bus I was looking at the houses opposite the street. After I changed my thinking slightly, it was not the people making sounds, but the house itself. A house that grows and speaks. I am looking for different ways in which I can make houses more alive. “Leaking lighthouse” is a walnut beam, hanging from the ceiling. The beam is about 5x5x190cm. A text is engraved in, and spiraling around the wood. It is suspended from the ceiling by a thin white-red rope normally used in mountain climbing. It is tied with a knot to a hook, some excess rope is visible. It is unclear if the beam is leaning on the floor, or hanging slightly above it. The text “Leaking lighthouse, abandoned water. Delayed diagonal, mimicked broadcast.” is engraved with a font commonly used in novels. A novel stores a history, this beam facilitates a dense text about time being registered by devices more abstract than clocks.
In these works ideas about measuring time become visible. “On the shore of the galaxy” is a work containing framed sheet music depicting silence, ten books with photographs of myself holding fruit on one page, and images of celestial bodies on the other, and a larger photograph of myself holding a planet. To me this work was all about silence, a monument for stillness of some sort. This I related to the universe, I was thinking about a three singers in the same outfits being quiet, an anthem for the universe. “The mountain and I” is a 30x60cm photograph of myself next to a miniature mountain, made from plaster and fake grass. I was thinking about a series of questions, the proposition of how my body relates to the sculptures I make, what similarities can there be between a mountain and my face? How to live next to a mountain, look at it, and how it becomes a part of yourself? In the video “Clock” you see my hand pointing at a light bulb that floats from one side of the frame to the other. I wanted to have one of those devices above old elevators, where an arrow points to the floor it is on. There is also an audible clicking sound, like that of a clock.
These artworks differ in medium and form, but seen together a scenario flows through them. I make objects with a variety of materials and I like to think I design thoughts about these objects.
Ulises Carrion opens the text “the new art of making books” with “A book is a sequence of spaces. Each of these spaces is perceived at a different moment - a book is also a sequence of moments.A book is a sequence of spaces. Each of these spaces is perceived at a different moment - a book is also a sequence of moments.”
Torgny Lindgren is a writer who lived for most of his life in a remote area in northern Sweden. He writes about people living in this and the reality that surrounds them. This is an everyday reality that becomes remarkably unreal.
“Disappearing thoughts disappear” has a similar quality. The sentence silk-screened across the backs of the books reveals itself when they are placed in the right order. They are placed in a white cabinet, a zinc sheet covers the bottom part. I have spent time making these objects that almost every house contains, but I don’t think of these objects as ‘real’. These objects represent a subtly disrupted reality, the bottom bit of the cabinet cannot be opened, the books are empty shells. I like the idea of making everyday objects that are fake, a cabinet that represents a cabinet, a book that represents a book.
Fischli and Weiss work “Untitled (Tate)” are perfectly executed hand carved reproductions of everyday objects made from plastic, you can’t be sure what is real when experiencing their work. The protagonist in Tarkovsky’s “Solaris” encounters his wife who has been dead for ten years, but he can’t undo the buttons of her blouse, the reproduction is imperfect.
The first scene of Bela Tarr’s Werkmaister “Harmoniak”. In a bar that is about to close, the main character Valuska directs the locals to move in ways that illustrate his explanation of the universe. Valuska considers the universe a story that can be told anywhere, with means that are at hand. I respond to this idea because it explains a large concept in a simple and distinctive way. I like to think of my art as minimal open ended stories that reflect on time and reality in a similar way.
“One clue that there’s something not quite real about sequential time the way you experience it is the various paradoxes of time supposedly passing and of a so-called ‘present’ that’s always unrolling into the future and creating more and more past behind it. As if the present were this car — nice car by the way — and the past is the road we’ve just gone over, and the future is the headlit road up ahead we haven’t yet gotten to, and time is the car’s forward movement, and the precise present is the car’s front bumper as it cuts through the fog of the future, so that it’s now and then a tiny bit later a whole different now, etc.” (David Foster Wallace, 2002, p179)
“The Clockshop” is a work by Job Koelewijn. It is a recreated shop filled with clocks, all have stopped at a different time. The store itself is hanging from the ceiling in a hallway, it rocks back and forth, becoming a clock itself. It is sometimes blocking and sometimes opening the way through.
The Clockwork is a strange message: the present in the Clockstore is build from different moments. David Foster Wallace’s text is somewhat similar: the present as an infinite and invisible force powerful enough to make ideas disappear.
What is relevant to me in regards to disappearance and time, is that a clock ticks, but doesn’t time happen in the intervals between ticking? Agnieszka Kurant made a work based on a short story by Heinrich Boll called “Silence is Golden”: an accumulation of silent pauses in famous political speeches, played during an exhibition. The political content is not something I care much for, but the idea of quietude as a tangible material is relevant.
That moment of silence is made almost tangible in music, you experience time deeply when all instruments are quiet for a moment during a song. “Cornelius Cardew” made sheet music for his experimental music they aren’t linear in time, they are drawings that can be interpreted with sound.
I value Bas Jan Aders work for the fact that his body of work reads like a novel, but his physical disappearance is hard for me too disconnect from his visual work, which casts this shadow of tragedy on the rest of his work. I would like to know more about reading my practice as an open ended work of fiction
Where can this go?
The reality I grew up in was an empty landscape filled with wind. In a week or two I will return to the north with a camera and tripod, to create a portrait of the land, the wind, the buildings. While thinking about disturbances in reality, I will capture the windy landscapes to see what reality I can find there.
By expanding Departures, I wanted to go deeper into the subject matter of opening and closing, revealing and concealing. I am thinking about Jac Leirners installations, or Martin Parrs collections. I wonder if this literal expansion will lead to a more profound understanding of my work?
Here is a series of questions and concerns that surround my practice. These are not questions I can answer directly, nor am I very interested in clear answers. I am interested in positioning them in my practice.
The title “On the shore of the galaxy” can be read as a cheap sci-fi novel, does this add a layer of humor that will not stimulate a viewer to think deeper? “Disappearing thoughts disappear” is a sentence you can’t really disagree with, is it perhaps too generic, maybe an aphorism, and would that be a bad thing? How do these texts relate to the physical appearance of the work? Is the physical appearance of the works distracting from the text?
The aesthetics of nostalgia came up during several tutorials, I want a clearer understanding nostalgia, since I am much too intrigued by the present to long emotionally to live in the past. Svetlana Boym writes about collective nostalgia in her book “the Future of Nostalgia”.
I’d like to know more about the open end, how can the idea of the open end in a novel relate to art? I’m thinking about how Bas Jan Aders work became a tragic novel after his disappearance, or Edward Hoppers cinematic paintings, where I always wonder what the moments are before and after, and never think much about the moment that has been painted itself.
List of references
BOLL, H. (1958) - Murke’s Collected Silences, Kiepenheuer & Witch.
BOYM, S. (2002) the Future of Nostalgia, Basic Books.
CARRIÓN, U. (1975) the New Art of Making Books, Center for Book Arts.
FOSTER WALLACE, D. (2002) Good Old Neon, The O. Henry Prize Stories.
LINDGREN, T. (2007) Norrlands Akvavit, Norstedts.
LINDGREN, T. (2003) Light, The Harvill Press.
CARDEW, C. sheet music.
KOELEWIJN, J. (2003) the Clockshop, various materials, 230 x 270 x 340cm, collection museum de Pont
KURANT, A. (2011) Silence is Golden, recording.
FISCHLI AND WEISS. (2000) Untitled (Tate), various materials, dimensions variable, collection Tate Modern
TARKOVSKY, A. (1972) Solaris.
TARR, B. (2000) Werkmeister Harmóniák, 2000.