Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Helvete: 1 oktober 2011- 8 januari 2012 Liljevalchs Konsthall Djurgårdsvägen 60, Stockholm, SE. by craniv boyd.

Helvete: Dick Bengtsson, Glenn Brown, Ann Böttcher, Sten Eklund, Roj Friberg, Francisco de Goya, Jenny Holzer, Hans Jörgen Johansen, Marcus Larson, Maria Miesenberger, Tracey Moffatt, Ulrik Samuelson, Cindy Sherman, P O Ultvedt, Sun Xun, Petter Zennström  1 oktober 2011- 8 januari 2012 Liljevalchs Konsthall Djurgårdsvägen 60,  Stockholm, SE. by craniv boyd.

Helvete, Swedish for Hell, in English, is a group thematic exhibition, now taking place, in Stockholm's oldest independent museum, Liljevalchs Konsthall. Illustrations of hellish environs or, infernal situations interpreted in the broadest sense, by and large authored by artists living and working today, or in present times, with one notable exception: Francisco de Goya. Helvete, is an example of heavy handed exhibition organization, the guiding principle was, perhaps to select  artworks which possess overt sinister overtones. The majority of the art works, dark in nature are rendered darker, more brooding with the title of Helvete, this combined with the relative lack of day light of Stockholm's winter, makes for a trying viewing experience, so, do not go, if you are over sensitive to either: images of horror, or horrible imagery. 

Starting from the bottom up, in the lower-level of a truly special early twentieth Scandinavian modernist building by architect, Carl Bergsten, is one room near the wardrobe and washrooms, that is home, for the exhibition, to kinetic sculpture by Swedish artist P O Ultvedt. Black wooden geometric assemblages, are wall mounted, the move, wooden gears and black rubber bands, wooden sticks also painted black clack and clamor in jarring movement, disturbing long wires attached to both the wood, on the wall mounted mechanism, and "puppets" that are on the floor in nude, untreated wood. The floor bound puppets in-turn make a minor rhythmic din, they bear slight resemblance to, abstracted human anatomy statues, puppets that perhaps had, or still have use in art academies, for figure studies when a model is not present. The wooden figures on the floor, set in-motion by larger darker mechanisms that make noise in the distance above, look pathetic, broken fragmentary beings at the mercy of wires, and unrelenting slow moving machinery. One wall has an art work where no puppetry is involved. It is a horizontally oriented rectangle with black wooden planks at its shorter sides. These parallel sides frame a movement of a black sagging bag that heaves up and down slowly, it looks unattractive, what is essentially artwork that utilizes a  black bag for refuse, as its materials, in a way to make the bag appear like, it is, living, breathing, rubbish alive on the wall. 

In the first and most prominent room of Liljevalchs Konsthall, the American artist Jenny Holzer, is installed in what looks like it would be half, of an ambitious Art Gallery exposition in Chelsea of New York. She has on view, two of her much lauded, streaming text in Light emitting diode art works. In this instance Jenny Holzer has a Baroque minimal style. Identical rings evenly  spaced at regular intervals, reminiscent of the late ABC artist Donald Judd, Holzer's rings are with programmed text bars moving in opposite directions, one text panel per side of the metal ring.  What is to see is a times square, scroll text with written content, that would only very improbably appear in Times Square on one of the screens of either the Reuters or the Nasdaq buildings.  Email correspondence of the U.S. armed forces over seas in either Iraq or Afghanistan, amounts other written things. another set of rings, the larger of the two displays the "greatest hits" so to speak, of Jenny Holzer's truisms or aphorisms. On the other westward wall of the room, four paintings are hung. Each Jenny Holzer painting displayed, is of course not hand made, by the artists hand, despite the fact that every of the four paintings is of a hand print, or rather a hand scan. The works are black and white, overblown, and confrontational, they speak to an increased technological savvy of U.S. law enforcement. But big hand scans, as paintings give the impression of lazy, half thought product, by an internationally recognized artist who works chiefly with text. I am certain that die hard Jenny Holzer fans would be disappointed by these black and white paintings, like I was, since they come from an accomplished artist who makes images from primarily letters only.

Ugliest painting, and truly terrible art award could be bestowed on the late Swedish artist Dick Bengtsson, his sensitive and textural paintings of places, buildings, interiors and machines, have one glaring disturbing attribute in common that renders them highly problematic, to put it mildly. Dick Bengtsson, painted images that used a Swastika as a logo or emblem, no explanation, only random appropriation. One series of identically formatted paintings is an exercise in how an artist can take the steps from a classic Mondrian painting and abstract further to form a Crux Gammatta. Landscape paintings or paintings of farm houses, two paneled paintings in diptych form, reflected over a vertical line of symmetry, have a rather large black and white Swastika, in the corner. Swastika as signature? In the exhibition Helvete, the public is inoculated, by the titling of the exhibition as "hell" to expect the worst, Dick Bengtsson, provides it, by existing as the worst. Perchance Dick Bengtsson painted these images so that no body would look at them in public, because of their association with the Nazi insignia. Yet contrary to the intentional difficulty or in-saleability of the work, several of the Dick Bengtsson's paintings are on loan to Liljevalchs Konsthall, from the permanent collection of Moderna Musseet, in Stockholm. One is confused by the casual usage of a charged image of the Swastika that for most is synonymous with evil, and for widespread endemic disregard for humanity at the worst, most horrifying level. Did the late Dick Bengtsson, wish to implicate himself as a Nazi apologist? Or was he, as an artist more interested in, indicating larger unspoken evil, latent intolerance, or repressed xenophobia?

A more lighthearted, application of sinister content in art, or art work as infernal representation, is the video loop, projected big format cinema style, of Australian artist, Tracey Moffatt. her disasters are a splicing together of the big budget explosion scenes from Hollywood disaster film. Bringing to mind which is the greater disaster? The money which is poured into creating these ever increasingly obsolete looking Byzantine moments of cinematic horror, or the demand to watch these sensationalist panic inducing scenarios, or will this instance of Tracey Moffatt's art work still have relevance staying power given that more people go to the cinema on their individual smart phones? Visitors who are familiar with Concrete Television would doubtlessly find this piece by Tracey Moffatt, to be not only derivative, but perhaps also basic, or incomplete. However, the video-artwork is in many respects, original, furthermore in midst of the dreary neighbors in this Hell centric exhibition, Tracey Moffatt has accomplished a video artwork that works as anti depressant. Her work brings the focus back to some kind of stratified panicked present day art scape condition, and as it is the room before  Francisco de Goya's extant etching series, disasteros de la guerra, viewers are unable to escape hearing the high volume, and fast tempo, techno, synthesized soundtrack of Tracey Moffatt's video-artwork  whilst observing  Francisco de Goya, making for a way past hyper modern visitation of art. by craniv boyd 

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