Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Játtanir Várframsýning 2011 Føroysk Myndlistafólk Listaskálin 18/3-25/4 Listasavn Føroya, Tórshavn, Føroya by craniv boyd.

Játtanir Várframsýning 2011 Føroysk Myndlistafólk Listaskálin 18/3-25/4 Anna Katherina Højgaard, Eigil Lyngsø, Ludvík Breckmann, Marjun Jóanesardóttir, Martin Tórgarð, Pól Skarðenni, Johan Martin Christiansen, Sara Björnsdóttir, Hrafnkell Sigurðsson, Haraldur Jónsson, Þóroddur Bjarnason, Erla Haraldsdóttir/Craniv Boyd. Listasavn Føroya, Tórshavn, Føroya by craniv boyd.



"Játtanir takes place in the eternal now. Art is the only thing that can heal us. We are grateful for the Feroese experience. In the middle of the Atlantic ocean. Takk"




The uncomfortable risky task of assessing an exhibition is problematic in a small society; the smaller circle of the Nordic Art world is made smaller when you as an artist judge the very exhibition you are a guest participant in. I will make my best effort here to write some truth about how I saw this spring exhibition so as to make whatever readership "see" the art themselves in this relatively remote local, not as a mere description of fact but a moment of disparate recollections filtered through an at times reasonable medium that of the artist as art commentator.



Children & Fathers:


There is much ado about when children learn how to relieve their calls of nature by themselves. Many specialists are occupied with learning how ideal or less than ideal toilet training can influence the lives of adults. This is not my area of experience however when something from the bathroom is displayed in a museum, thoughts of the bathroom reoccur. Þóroddur Bjarnason, an artist from Iceland, has a work titled New Heights New Opportunities, it consists of a series of "ready mades" an out growth of my friend and yours too Marcel, of "R. Mutt" renown. The objects in question are plastic cream-colored footstools designed and manufactured for the funkis project of Ikea, the function of these stools is to assist small children to reach the seat of the western style toilet. Þórrodur Bjarnason leaves the paper labels from Ikea on the stools so as to remove all doubt of from whence they came, the placement and titling of this series is apt if not wry or brilliant, because it is a new level of development when a human child learns to hold it in and release it at the appropriate time and place, a basic skill that does in fact result in new heights and opportunities. This step so quizzically small in relation to a full-grown human adult is reminiscent of a "small step for man and a giant leap for mankind" training oneself to do the unnatural can lead humans to walk on the surface of our closest and largest natural satellite.


Faðir /Stóra teppið is a Blurring of the very masculine with a sensitivity and craft practice of quilting and sewing that is often associated with the "fairer sex". Icelandic artist Hrafnkell Sigurðsson in this work made for Játtanir from local and found materials, castaway oily rags from the shipyard at the port of Tórshavn. The rags in their usage and stains become a painting of sorts a document of a crucial activity culturally relevant to a fishing dependant economy. That of ship maintenance an activity difficult to portray in expressionist or realist painting. Fabricating a quilt out of motley rags that are basically utilitarian in nature, Hrafnkell Sigurðsson makes a strong case for aesthetic value in mundane and overlooked objects this work is one that encourages a new perspective on life in the Faroe Islands it is a powerfully smelling quilted textile with a distressed texture.



Sin & Sound:


An oil painting by Faroe Islands based autodidact artist Ludvík Breckmann, was selected for this edition of Várfamsýning. The naive style painting Lívsins frukt Uppgongd is a depiction of three women musing an apple, this fruit is the biblical apple from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the blonde red-haired and brunette women are two seated and one standing, all eyes are closed or semi shut, a black raven is on a window sill beak cracked open so as to cackle in the hair obscured ear of the seated Blonde holding the apple. Under the raven a striped gray and black cat seated upright tail tilted away, the feet of the three women are meeting in some kind of a stylized pact on the floor. Each of the women wear a solid colored slip or shapeless tunic, they are represented with a hard thick black border so as to delineate their corporeal demarcations, these frontier of the painted flesh in Ludvík Breckmanns painting call to mind the black contours of mature paintings of German born expressionist Max Beckmann, how ever his lines have soul, those of Ludvík Breckmann are charming yet at times a trifle stilted it errs on the illustrative.


Let us say with literary license that the three women in this painting were to take a bite of that illustrated apple of knowledge, perhaps they would hear new words for their emotions or become aware o their emotions as did the biblical hero and heroine of Book of Genesis, if we take this conceit further their emotional vocabulary would be expanded to encompass the words uttered in the sound installation "Játtanir" by Icelandic Artist Haraldur Jónsson. This work comprises of an alphabetical list of adjectives for emotions in the related Norse languages of Icelandic and Faroese. The voice that conveys the words sounds neutral and un-emotive yet it has a female charge. If the computer "Hal" from 2001: a Space Odyssey had a sex change he might sound like this. The emotions the words for them are repeated in list format, so as to isolate feeling, to render a linguistic emotional spectrum into a tangible loop that reoccurs, spending time in Alternative Exhibitions space at Listasavn Føroya, a mysterious voice from down stairs repeats words subtly hinting towards the limits of describing emotions in two related rare old Germanic languages.   



Performance & Relics & Remnants:


A glittering silver shoe lays on its side on the floor of this coy seemingly random gesture is a remnant an appetizer if one is permitted to speak of art objects in terms of five course restaurant meals, this shoe is an object that makes its appearance in the site specific video installation behind it. Where is my stuff, by Icelandic artist Sara Björnsdóttir is a work that compresses and doubles time and space. An updated tromp l'oie effect is employed resulting from video-graphed material of a door that opens and closes which is in turn projected back onto the same door. The day that the material was recorded becomes a close and unnerving reality, for the slight scale shift of projected door and actual door is a puzzle that the viewer is invited to ponder. The majority of the three minute long site specific video loop unfolds in real time, with Sara Björnsdóttir looking for her things, suddenly real time is abandoned vís a vís jump cuts and objects including a pair of glittering silver shoes that appear in rapid succession on the ground, Sara finds her stuff, kicking off the rubber boots she wears in the video to out of frame. In the dimly lit room where the projection is installed the same pair of rubber boots is to be found on the floor, out of frame just where Sara Björnsdóttir left them, an additional relic of this video loop that nods towards performance art.


Further relics of the creative process are remnants, components of ÞAÐ, a performance and installation by Haraldur Jónsson. The performance, a single time occurrence for the vernnisage of this edition of Várframsýning, it was a moving experience to go for a walk in a scenic plantation where the Listasavn Føroya is located on with the public before they had seen the spring exhibition, they were a captive yet patient audience who transformed into participants in a procession led by Haraldur Jónsson holding a music player over his head that recited words (those of his sound piece Játtanir), once inside the museum and the alternative exhibition hall, Haraldur Jónsson then took his position kneeling on a prayer mat an officiating in a hermetic and cryptic event that was a skillful an profoundly light hearted example of the artist creating. With his eyes firmly closed so as to create a distance from the audience and so seal him self off in another space, Haraldur Jónsson reached into the dark hat he had been wearing and pulled out one piece of flesh colored clay after the other, carefully shaping them one at a time in a way that was rich in symbols. After what seemed like it could continue from a fount of imaginative power Haraldur Jónsson stopped suddenly so as to impose an end where there was non and turned his back on the opening public he scrawled the title of the work on the wall in thin delicate course lettering that was so big as to be more form than letter form at the pace of a tortoise. It spelled ÞAÐ Icelandic for that.  


Super flat & Light pictures:


Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all: in the situation of Várframsýning 2011, Þóroddur Bjarnason's super flat art work Mirror 4 People is a shock towards the new. The spring exhibition in this sub arctic constituent country traditionally in recent years is heavy on paintings, mirrors and performance are relatively new arrivals at the Faroe islands, and the new experience that the Faroe Island art public has visiting the museum and seeing ones self in the wall instead of an oil painting via a large format square mirror on the wall, Bjarnason modestly drives at pointed questions posed by many artists in 20th century (Joseph Beuys among others) that of "is every body an artist?" or "can every body be the subject of art?" 


Another moment of flatness or near flatness is Stýriborð – Bakborð a photo diptych by Hrafnkell Sigurðason the photos are close up of the hull of ships and the bright primary color contrast of red and blue is present, the worn texture and the surface of the boat and its protective enamel are felt more as a memory of the sensation touch the fooling of the eyes affect is also at play here with a close up of a significant object towards this specific fishing economy of the Faroe Islands, Sigurðason is able to bring us closer to objects many nowadays tend to be distant from, tools for the hunt and survival, thereby engenders a new æsthetic meaning for these instruments.


The untitled photographs of Anna Kathrina Højgaard, in a grid were unassuming portrayals of the volatile weather and sea in the Faroe Islands, they provided a general palimpsest of what it could be on the islands taken by the ocean in remote and relatively desolate areas they were studies of the light and snapshots of the sublime as it occurs in the power of natures forces.


Drengur og Hestur, by Erla Haraldsdóttir / Craniv Boyd, a video that was according to Faroese arts critic Kina Poulsen "more of a long short film" showed pre adolescent Children and Horses the winter in Skagafjörður in Iceland and its changing weather in the form of a wide screen format video projected in a side chamber. All gloating aside, there was a steady stream of a patient audience for the work during the opening evening to which we are grateful.


Texture & Presence:


Markings on the wall and delicate gestures are a shocking expression of ironic minimalism Concrete Realism, a wall drawing in pencil by Sara Björnsdóttir, is barely there, it is there enough to provoke you. The dearth of apparent readily available "art information" and obvious bourgeoisie musicological signifier (i.e. thick gold leaf masterpiece picture frames) or a work label like can induce panic. The wall where Concrete Realism is drawn on is the most visible and prominent wall space in the alternative exhibitions hall, at first glance it appears nude or inchoate, a barricade of brass poles and a white rope are sentinels guarding the wall indicating an implied "do not touch" or "please stand back" with time similar to when your pupils and irises are adjusting to let more light to your retina when entering a darkened room, you see the cracks and the wall appears on the cusp of falling apart. This artistic position expounded by the drawing that holds the seemingly empty space is an aggressive expression with wispy means.


Innímillum, (in the middle) Pól Skarðenni, is the other direct to wall work in this edition of the spring exhibition. It is paint on the wall in a tour dú force of abstract expressionism, or it is expressionism when it keeps regular hours, Pól Skarðenni worked on this painting while the museum was open, over the course of the days prior to the vernissage Pól Skarðenni shared the normally private and isolated process of painting a picture with those who visited Listasavn Føroya, to see him work consistently on a personal expression which in all likelihood will be painted over was instructive in the practice of per formative painting, or painting as process based art. Skarðenni is a Faroe Islands based artist, it seemed that his contribution to the group exhibition was one that was about his method and time spent painting he approached the challenge to make the painting he would not make otherwise bringing his presence and creative involvement and intuitive decision making to the wall and leaving it there with the paints he brought. One feels that Pól Skarðenni's time spent creating this painting in the same room while the visiting Icelandic artists where installing and curating Várframsýning 2011(a first time event) he took the opportunity to be there and observe to have a working contact via osmosis with the artists from the north. by craniv boyd

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