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Looking for love in all the wrong places

  • Nasjonalgalleriet will shut down next weekend prior to their move to Aker Brygge. To celebrate they have hiked their prices (AGAIN!) to 120kr, but both of us have identity cards proving we are real art professionals, so we got in for free 🙂

    The future of the old museum has been angrily debated for the past 20 (+/-) years, while just before Christmas, Nasjonalmuseet and the private foundation DNB-Sparebankstiftelsen announced they will join efforts to secure the building to be used as a gallery and, even perhaps, to provide space for living artists. 

    Just a few years ago, Sparebankstiftelsen rebuilt what is now Sentralen. And Nasjonalmuseet must be inspired by this new kulturhus, because not only have they adopted Metric to develop their new visual identity, but also LAVA Oslo to run the new museum café: both companies are doing design and food respectively at Sentralen. Andreas, happen to work here as a waiter, and not a single day goes by without him having to guide a visitor to the hidden restrooms, the secret bar, a secluded concert venue or one of the many meeting rooms. Sentralen is a maze!

    But enough talk about old houses and labyrinthian aspirations. We came to see Infinite Landscapes, a show presenting the romantic paintings of Harald Sohlberg (1869–1935).

    La petit mort

    – I immediately recognized Sohlberg’s two self portraits as Grindr profile pictures. He must have painted them with something like 7 years apart. The younger artist is candidly looking at the spectator with longing in his eyes. He has smooth features and strong cheek bones. The wall behind him is decorated with paintings, communicating his preference for refined culture. Clearly he is the artisté type, not interested in shallow conversation or bad smell. But looking to drink wine, discuss psychoanalysis, have cocktails or just do it right now. The older artist, painted in 1986, has moved out to the countryside and enjoys long solitary walks. Body type: slender. His eyes are even more refined, the gaze is pleading sensuality, and his exquisite mustache is now renowned as essential gay accessory. Also notice the many telegraph poles in Sohlberg’s landscape paintings, all precursors to telecommunication dating.

    When looking at Sohlberg’s ugly paintings of mermaids, I pointed out how Michelangelo too was a bad painter of female figures. And I am very happy with this remark as we later got to see Sohlberg’s sketch of Michelangelo’s depiction of male pain and pleasure, the sculpture Dying Slave (1513–1516); a representation of la petit mort if there ever was one. 

    A lonely sweet heart

    – I for one saw him more like the dickslinger genius kind of artist who thought of ladies as nothing but fishy distractions from the main goal. I notice from the later self portrait that he might have something called Sanpaku, a Japanese term that means being able to see the whites of someones eyes under or above the iris. Supposedly, if you can see the white above the iris, your interior world is out to get you. But in Sohlberg’s case, the white is visible under his iris and that means the outside world is out to get you.

    There is little information in the show about Sohlberg’s personal life beyond the places he lived and liked to go. Maybe he was more connected to places than people. Not to frame a comparison, but Munch’s work is full of people. Sohlberg’s is so devoid of human form that it can at times look post-apocalyptic in a cool Cormac McCarthy-kind of way, or The Leftovers. Like someone had just been eating breakfast on the veranda and then *puff* everyone disappeared. 

    There were two tiny skiers in one of the versions of Vinternatt i Rondane, but they were so far away. It makes me suspect Sohlberg had a hard time communicating with other people, to the point where his proto-Grindr self portraits seem to be self idealizing, nakedly hoping to catch the eye of just The One. Maybe he saved all his tenderness for describing his landscapes, simplifying and shading all the little details with the devotion you would give to a lover.

    Small child-like decisions in the work, like the constant star in the middle of the two mountains in his Rondane paintings, take things to the edge of being illustrative. But actually they elevate the whole body of work. I am convinced he was a lonely sweet heart who decided the empty town and cold mountains were the only place to be free and cute.

    Harald Sohlberg, Landeveien, 1905.

Dreaming in America

  • Lizzie Fitch / Ryan Trecartin Plaza Point, 2009

    So here we are, sitting in these broken down sets and I already find myself talking like the characters in the videos. Bitching and bickering, so loud and hysterical. Like, everything is greeted as an offense.

    Yeah, they’re pretty fluent in the language of identity politics.

    Haha, noo…. Watching them is fun, but it also makes me feel anxious, claustrophobic. And this guy who keeps flipping the light switch makes me all aunt-ie, like: don’t! Stop it!

    The first time I saw Fitch/Trecartin videos was in Venice, just before I was going on a year long exchange in California. And I was thinking «oh no, is this what I signed up for? Is this the true face of AMERIKKKA?» To some extent it was. But I also wanted to be with them, these fun club kids.

    Yea, like that guy in the bar with the new tan lines. “Look at my new arms – a great purchase.”

    Also notice how no one in the videos are ever getting anywhere. Like those girls at the make shift plane inside someone’s LA mansion; or those guys readying themselves for the club, THEY WONT MAKE IT OUT THE DOOR.

    And it’s so painful to behold! It’s like The Kardashians, the plot is going nowhere, but I could still watch it forever.

    I’m identifying with characters and then getting lost. It seems like the first video is a combination of simulated characters sneaking off to have real experiences and then getting caught in dialogue with their controllers.

    Who knows, maybe what would happen in the end would be really bad.

    Yeah, like murder. It reminds me of a Paul McCarthy video where it’s just a bunch of hot girls in a trailer chopping a person up and having so much fun. Actually, this whole show reminds me of a kinder, more gentile and gender sensitive descendant of McCarthy.

    There’s a feeling of melancholy too. I don’t want to sound mean, but it’s like these people have been abandoned in the debris and surplus trash of culture. Look at all those shitty, messy things they’re surrounded by. Crap someone has designed, manufactured and shipped out to overwhelm the world in an apocalypse of appalling products. Did everyone else leave? All aboard the Tesla of Elon Musk? 

    Maybe. It’s like the characters long to be somewhere else. In a more glamorous, high class, bourgeois world. To be accomplished artists. Models. Successful business people! American Dreams from the backwaters.

    I think Fitch & Trecartin are genuine about this depiction of «low». Like, the other day I saw The Florida Project by Sean Baker, and the footage is really nice. Careful, never intruding, warm colors. But I’m also uneasy about the movie’s aestheticization of the poor and desperate. Because, where is Baker speaking from? He’s of course allowed to make a film like this, but you have to be cautious. Whereas Fitch & Trecartin’s work feels more sincere. Maybe because the sculptures and videos are so humorous and self-deprecating, but never insensitive.

    They’re so accurate at pinpointing the rite junk, like those «5 hour energy»-bottles this girl is gushing down. Or those sculptures down stairs: the abandoned motor with a kid on top wearing a «I’m Single and Free» T-shirt. Fitch & Trecartin are proving to have a sincere and complicated relationship to these objects.

    I love It’s Over – Be More Gay (2006), the silly grins on those sculptures and that hideous lamp. The expressionistic paint is really nice too, and that rug… Maybe they’re planning a vacation to Gran Canaria and can’t wait to get on the plane. While this creepy baby is documenting their joy de vivre, exuberance. The thrill of being alive! The baby’s camera adds ambiguity, like in all Fitch & Trecartin videos: are the characters just posing, or is this frenzied expression their usual mode of being?

    Lizzie Fitch/Ryan Trecartin with Kenny Curran and Brian McKelligott
    It’s Over – Be More Gay, 2006.

    It’s like my family on the Danskebåt this past summer! But for real, I just went to a lecture given by this Marxist economist Richard Wolff. He says Americans have made a deal with capitalism. Work rite into the grave, accept crappy pay, and no health insurance, and in exchange you can have all the random shit your heart desires. I think that makes Americans *like myself* place a spiritually high value to shit. It’s a bad trade, but its a part of the soul now.

    Still, the thought of these sculptures sitting in a pristine marble grand salon or something… I’m not sure if the sculptures makes me feel better about these waste objects. It’s either like sending my grandmother to Paris, or like sending my grandmother to Paris in a cage.

    Lizzie Fitch / Ryan Trecartin Intellectual Property, 2015 Courtesy the artists, Regen Projects, and Sprüth Magers

Trippin’ at the gates of womb

  • Nora Joung, Ding Dong. Kunstnernes Hus. Photo: UKS (Unge Kunstneres Samfund)

    Schlumping down on the oversized couch while looking at the big video screen, I felt tiny and out of control, like a miniature child.

    I had a «womb-y» experience. Remember the constant pulsating sound – like a heart beat. We were inside this safe environment peeking out on a hazy, blurry video-world we couldn’t understand. I also felt hungry. There was this voice telling me stuff like: «the wish to eat». Did you read the press release, get a sense of what’s going on?

    No, I’ve held it in my hand several times, but it was very long. Anyways, she was kinda popping thoughts into our heads.

    On the floor there was this blue rug with a grid system that looked like lasers or floating things with a shadow or a tartan. Some lines were painted in fluorescent color so they didn’t show all the time, while other lines were made of twine which made them look as if they were floating, fleeting, above the rug. The grid system looked symmetrical, but then it didn’t.

    The video had a super blurry filter over all of the imagery which made everything look pretty and ethereal. Most of the screen presented random blue stuff, just flickering colors. At other times it would be hazy commercials, a soccer game and something political looking. All stuff you pass when channel surfing. But then there was some really artsy video in there as well.

    Imagine zapping through the weather channel, Ice Road Truckers, reality-TV, and then suddenly: hardcore video art. 

    I felt like being fed with different emotions, and it reminded me of an experience where I was «under the influence» looking at TV – and whatever it was showing would change our mood so profoundly. From pastoral happiness to eerie, like chilled to the bone, fright. It took us a while to realize how much we were in the control of the TV, and then we turned it off.

    We might be onto something here: under the influence… The big couch and immersive TV-installation created an atmosphere where I felt disassociated from my body, not like chained up in a rotten basement disassociated, but disoriented. And I was trying to make sense of everything, like painstalkingly trying to make sense: the grid system, the voices, the lights, the blurry TV, but it just didn’t add up. The heart beats, on the other hand, made me very self aware and conscious of my own body.

    Yes, trippin’! What I didn’t appreciate so much was the architecture which looked kinda handcrafted. I wish those big lamps were more elegant, hidden or something. And the couch was pretty clumpy. Some of the details gave the immersive experience away and made me feel like I was on the set of a TV-show.

    Overall, it felt like an expression of bewilderment at the world outside our interior lives. But I’m not sure if I was comfortable in this…maybe nihilistic… childlike position. My instincts tell me to keep searching for meaning. I wanted to get off the couch, TUNE IN, drop out. Not Drop out and Plop Out. 

    Tumblr: acid cards

Deilig er julen

  • Julekveld med De Naive. Foto: Jan Khür

    Det var søndag og «Julekveld med de Naive» på Kulturhuset. Scenen var pyntet med glitter, et juletre, rød fløyel, tepper, og tomme klementinskall. De tre danserne Harald Beharie, Julie Moviken og Charlott Utzig, kravlet under noen tepper før de dramatisk presenterte seg én etter én for publikum ved å innta konfronterende poseringer omslynget av fløyel og glitter. Forestillingen var en julepresang. Med stor energi, humor og sårbarhet, lagde De Navie et show om det desperate arbeidet som kreves for å opprettholde en perfekt fasade.

    Danserne hadde raske briller, glinsende frakker, lårkorte skjørt og cowboy-boots i en slags normcore-chich-stil. De fortsatte å gå målrettet rundt på scenen og innta nye stillinger i takt. Men gulvet var glatt, og den selvsikre poseringen stod i kontrast til fall og nesten-ulykker. Danserne måtte anstrengte seg for å fremstå som sexy og attraktive i en evig kamp mot fysiske hindringer, utholdenhet, lys, makeup og svette. Balansen mellom frenetiske forsøk på glamour og allminnelig klumsing var komisk og svært inderlig. Navnet, De Naive, spiller kanskje også på dette dumdristige prosjektet om å oppnå motebladenes retusjerte utseende live på scenen, eller de hysteriske forventningene til en perfekt jul.

    Julekveld med De Naive. Foto: Jan Khür

    I den neste scenen klappet de forskjellige rytmer på en teit og folkelig måte, «Ja, nå klapper vi dere!» Harald Beharie steppet til randen av utmattelse, han sparket mot taket og nærmest svevde over gulvet før han landet med et smell. Charlott Utzig åpnet andre akt med å krølle seg inviterende rundt på en sakkosekk og reflektere over julen. Kokett spurte hun publikum om deres juleantrekk før hun begynte å ta på seg selv med mikrofonen og overdøvde et guttekor som hadde kommet på scenen. Julie Moviken danset ballet til svulstig klassisk musikk. I stor fart beveget hun seg grasiøst rundt i rommet som en liten ballerina, før hun avbrøt balletten med å innta nye poses. Scenen, som showet forøvrig, virket å gjøre narr av selvhøytidelig finkultur og abstrakt samtidsdans. Eller, narr er kanskje ikke det riktige ordet. Den Fine Balletten ble plantet oppriktig og bestemt i en mer gjenkjennelig sammenheng, som den svette kjelleren på Revolver, eller tredje etasje på Elsker rett før stengetid, når alle kaver for å sikre seg oppmerksomhet og en avslutning på kvelden.

    Mot slutten krøp Beharie frem på scenen iført en merkelig blond parykk, som et lite juletroll. Et bilde av kulturminister Linda Hofstad Helleland ble plassert på toppen av juletreet, men denne julestjerna datt stadig vekk ned. Den svulstige musikken fortsatte og De Naive danset lavt på fløyel og et stort shabby-chic teppe i teddypels. Danserne overlot kroppen til en elektrisk sitring som etterhvert utviklet seg til voldsomme seksuelle bevegelser. På ballettforestillinger arresterer jeg meg selv i å se etter en mannerumpe eller en stor bulge, men på Julekvelden var ikke slik seksualisering forbudt. Danserne krevde å bli fantasert om, og istedenfor tok jeg meg selv i å se etter blikkene til guttekoret, så de etter det samme som meg? Bevegelsene ble mer og mer intense, svetten silte, Beharie blødde fra munnen, og de tre arbeidet mot en euforisk orgasme som aldri tok slutt.

    Med juleshowet klarte De Naive å treffe en nerve. Ved å balansere mellom humor, satire, voldsomme fysiske anstrengelser, kostymer og bevegelser fra utelivet, ble julekvelden en oppvisning i sjenerøs og oppriktig dans. Showet tippet aldri over i ironi eller harselering. På en varsomt måte klarte De Naive å portrettere strevet for oppmerksomhet og slitet for å oppnå urealistiske idealer. Det minnet meg om uoverensstemmelsene mellom hvor sexy og attraktiv jeg tror jeg er når jeg danser og fasiten fra en pinlig Snapchat-video, men uten at jeg følte meg dum for å prøve. Til sangen fra koret beveget De Naive seg duvende og andektig ut av scenen, om bare julaften kunne være sånn her!

    Julekveld med De Naive. Foto: Jan Khür

John Savio på Studiesalen

  • Jeg hjalp besteforeldrene mine med å sette sammen en IKEA-stol da jeg kom på at Nasjonalgalleriet arrangerte pop-up utstilling med John Savio (1902-1938). Bestemor og -far er også fra Finnmark, og han hadde introdusert meg for Savio tidligere. Bestefar snakket varmt om

    Savios tresnitt som klarer å fange bevegelser og hendelser fra livet på vidda. Snirklete detaljer og cowboy-gjeter som fanger reinsdyr med lasso. Jeg bladde i boka Finnmarksviddens kunst : «John Savio» av tidligere riksantikvar Harry Fett. Han ga Savio oppmerksomhet, men omtaler kunsteren med nedlatende forbauselse. Litt stemoderlig var pop-up utstillingen hos Nasjonalgalleriet også. Pop-up høres kult og innovativt ut, men utstillingen besto av grafikk som litt skjødesløst var lagt utover noen pulter i det lille kontoret museet kaller “Studiesalen.” Det var ikke så glamorøst.

    Uansett! Jeg liker Ganda (Gutt) veldig godt. En gutt med nedslåtte øyne har et arr på kinnet. Nesebeinet og kjevepartiet er tydelig markert, som en modell fra catwalken, og han har veldig fine lepper. Det er hemmelighetsfullt. Leppene, arret, trekkene i ansiktet blir en del av det stridige landskapet. Bildet virker skjært ut i fortrolighet. Det ligner profilbildet jeg bruker på Facebook, tatt av Tor Erik, min samboer, i et øyeblikk jeg ikke hadde lyst til å bli fotografert, samtidig som jeg gjør meg til. Hva var forholdet mellom Savio og gutten?

    Savio flyttet fra reinsdyr og livet på vidda til Oslo, hvor han drakk og ikke kom helt overens med resten av kunstmiljøet, i følge bestefar. Rivaler minner om noen som har drukket for mye. Motivet er langt mer dystert. Det er natt i en snødekt bakgate, en mann slåss mot en mørk skygge mens en kvinne står i bakgrunnen. Jeg forstår ikke hva VADE MEG betyr, men det står der, illevarslende. Mangler det et ord? Til venstre for “meg” er det mye plass. Hadde det stått “fra” ville ordene gitt tydeligere mening. Vik fra meg. Istedenfor virker bildet som en indre kamp mellom en mann og hans egen skygge.

    Rivaler, John Savio

    Savios tresnitt er ekspresjonistiske, omgivelsene uttrykker stemninger og bryter seg inn i karakterenes fremtoning. Menneskene har grove trekk, både været og en hardfør kultur virker å ha satt sine spor. Et annet bilde har tittelen Sjalusi, hvor en sur mann står i forgrunnen mens et par går i bakgrunnen. Store Norske Leksikon skriver at Savio likte Munch. Aqua Vita er to par og to tomflasker på vidda, et motiv ikke helt ulikt Dagen Derpå. Men Savios titler og motiver er mer rett frem, værharde landskap og fysisk arbeid får større plass. Andre motiver er av fjell og furuer, mens Ung Reingjeter ligner Friedrichs

    Wanderer above the Sea of Fog. Nasjonalgalleriet stilte også ut et et reinsdyr i solnedgang i sterke farger, det nærmet seg kanskje mer souvenir.

    Samme dag arrangerte Kulturrådet årskonferansen med tittelen “Samisk vrede”. Jeg leste bare presseteksten som velvillig forklarte at “mange unge samiske kunstnere bruker kunsten til å gi uttrykk for frustrasjon og for å synliggjøre egen virkelighet.” Vrede er ikke en helt passende beskrivelse av Savios bilder, selvom flere av dem har et urovekkende preg. I mange av bildene vender menneskene seg bort, kanskje handler det mer om ensomhet.

    John Savio på studiesalen



  • The first thing that Matias Faldbakkens “Effects of good government in the pit” brings to mind is a certain curiosity about the title. Faldbakkken comes from a very literary family and he has written several novels himself. So I should take his text most seriously. I wondered if the tile could refer to Norway as the `good government” in the pit of a shitty world. Living in Norway right now is a little like watching a ship sink form inside a submarine. There could be a sarcastic element to the title too, but I cant think of what that would be.

    While considering the title, I enter the long museum. On the floor just opposite the ticket counter there is a scattered assortment of raw concrete sculptures. Their forms must have been made simply by dumping the cement into containers. The containers are boxes for big screen televisions. A lot of times, the containers and pouring tools aren´t removed from the mould. The press release of the artist’s 2010 solo exhibition at Reena Spaulings, which features identical and possibly the actual same work, says “it could have been made by Rachel Whiteread´s lazy teenage daughter.” The giant boxes that once held TV-screens tell me the sculptor is aware of form as a concept, the shapes themselves are vaguely symbolic. Reminds me of money. I imagine the attitude of the artist. I bet their hair is dirty. I bet they smoke too. The funnel flopping out of the container seems to be an echo of the grunge movement:“I wish I was like you, easily amused”

    Initially, to me, Faldbakken’s concrete objects felt like some kind of weird connection to construction and labor. The association didn’t completely fade, but it did change a little as I entered the downstairs exhibition space. The museum has left three walls which were previously erected to display paintings on, they were transformed into three sculptural monoliths of tiles. Their reddish and light blue color reminded me of the brutalist architecture of the State Universities of New York. Also housing projects and public bathrooms. Brutalism was used as a non hierarchical movement in architecture meant to maximise space and functionality. Its unadorned surfaces were intended to be neutral planes to make room for the inhabitor´s own self started community gatherings/ student rallies/ creative intitatives. But in reality they are cold and alienating buildings, bleak and uninspiring. You sit in a window and feel like you’re in the middle of a desert, an un-seeable blip.

    A hypnotising techno melody was playing, and I rushed to the back of the room to see what all the noise was about. I didn’t want to miss out. The music was similar to the Black Eyed Peas’ song “Tonights Gonna be a Good Night”, which is super catchy but totally written and produced to sell tequilla shots. A male figure State University of New York Buffalo dances with exaggerated awkwardness in a suit. A voice sings “I don’t care if I never come back”,then the sound cuts off abruptly, and a blue screen is on.

    Is Faldbakken ragging on mundane office workers? I don’t know if its fair to make fun of the people who go college and get 9-5 jobs and party on the weekends… No wait! That’s Donald Trump dancing to Hotline Bling on Saturday Night Live. This makes me connect my associations of brutalist architecture to institutionalzed rape culture in American Universities and the subtle ways in which sexism seeps from the frathouse into larger political and economic systems: Bad Government. Still, I realised I am looking into the freight elevator… White mediocrity abounds. Lets go upstairs.

    I will say. Upstairs, the sculpture with the picture of the foot on the rock would be nice in my dream bedroom. Other than that, everything seems thrown together. Exhausting, exhausted references to surf and skate culture are slapped onto Pipes. Other repeating stickers saying “Wildly overcommit and then disappear” with pictures of Sylvester Stallone.. Would Sly really do that? I dont think so. The alt right co opted meme “peppe the frog” is there wearing a shirt that says helix in a frame that says helix…double helix. Such a finger on the pulse! This frog is evil now. The word Brut appears over and over again, it’s a sexual word as well as an insult. You’re a such a brut. Brutality. Brut champagne, brutal architecture. Brut: french for raw, and alas raw cement.

    Brute, Faldbakken

Ut i vår hage

  • I et gammelt bilverksted på Galgeberg arrangerte Maria Pasenau og Victoria Duffee utstillingen  Secret Garden, Oslos første kunstbiennale. “Biennale” høres flott og storslagent ut, som en internasjonal affære. Samtidig virker en hemmelige hage som et fortrolig fellesskap hvor en kommer sammen for å dele intime erfaringer og personlige detaljer. Tilfeldigvis kjente jeg nesten alle kunstnerne som stilte ut, så det er ikke til å stikke under en stol at hagens intimitet kan ha lekket over i omtalen av utstillingen også.


    Victoria Duffee

    Victoria og jeg lager Vi ser på kunst sammen. I sommer dro vi på tur til Athen og documenta14, vi delte rom og var stort sett sammen hele tiden. Når vi ikke så på kunst fortalte vi hverandre om livet, gleder og sorger. Vi snakket om bøker vi hadde lest og forfattere vi liker. Til Secret Garden hadde Victoria laget en installasjon med en vifte som fikk forskjellige silkestoff til å blåse dramatisk i vinden. På et lavt bord sto en rund lampe, som en spåkule, i tillegg til en hånd av silikon og en gjørmelignende flekk. Tidligere samme uke, mens Victoria og jeg jobbet på en annen tekst, hadde hun hengt silkestoffet til tørk etter å ha malt på et slags romantisk landskapsmotiv. Men stoffet datt stadig vekk ned og jeg måtte hjelpe til med å henge det opp. Victoria er ikke alltid så forsiktig med tingene hun lager, men det gir arbeidene hennes sjarm, man kan se at de er sårbare.

    Amir  kjenner jeg ikke like godt, men jeg har sett ham nå og da. Han spilte også i den polerte meta-filmen DRIB. Til Secret Garden var Amir THE HOT CHEF. Han leste opp fra kokkens dagbok om suksess og nederlag, verdens mest solgte hot-sauce, onanering og et fallskjermhopp. Det var en springende historie hvor enkeltdetaljer sendte kokken avgårde mot endeløse anekdoter og selvinjurierende fortellinger. Kokkehatten, tresleiva og det røde tørklet var veldig “on point”. Det var en svært karikert kokk, latterlig malplassert, men varm og morsom. Historien om kokken var bare litt for lang.

    Tor Erik Bøe og jeg har vært samboere i over seks år. I timene før utstillingen var han veldig stressa. Han satt på kjøkkenbordet og prøvde å skvise ut en morsom tekst, spilte ABBA og andre glamorøse sanger, mens jeg lå på sofaen og spiste en pølse. Det er lenge siden jeg har sett ham så nervøs, men så var det jo snakk om en biennale. I performancen spilte Tor Erik på hagemotivet og etterhvert spilte han sangen Nocturne av Rolf Løvland og Secret Garden, med sørgmodig felespill, mystikk og en melankolsk sopran. Det er en inderlig sang, og det var performancen også. Snart dro han opp en flaske Poppers mens han snakket om mormoren Tordis som pleide å gjemme bort ting og tang i små skjell, krukker og esker. Tor Erik er delvis oppkalt etter Tordis, og jeg var så heldig å bli kjent med henne. Ofte sang hun og spilte orgel. Hun skravlet i ett sett, hun var livsglad og uhøytidelig. Tor Erik har nok arvet mer av henne enn bare navnet. Han delte noe personlig på en ujålete måte mens poppersflasken gikk rundt og ga publikum en kort, intens rus.

    Tor Erik Bøe

    Matias stilte ut et bilde, en bok med et lite vannglass oppå, og gjorde en performance jeg dessverre gikk glipp av. Jeg ble kjent med Matias på sommerskolen til Rogaland Kunstsenter ved Geir Haraldseth i 2015. Da spilte vi, og flere andre, riddere av det runde bord i en litt homoerotisk kunstfilm om Kong Arthur. Matias har gått på Steinerskolen og i det siste har han snakket mye om hvordan elevene måtte forestille seg å være ulike former. Tidligere har han laget en t-skjorte med påskriften “I think of spoon”, og i Secret Garden stilte han ut et bilde av Frihetsgudinnen med ansiktet tildekket av en liten teskje. Bildet i gråtoner gjorde seg godt mot veggen og resten av verkstedet. Litt bortenfor hadde han plassert boken How to know higher worlds av Rudolf Steiner, med et vannglass oppå. Ofte har jeg sett Matias jobbe med objekter som hentet fra sidene i et glanset motemagasin, han putter de sammen på en tørr humoristisk måte med et konseptuelt touch jeg ikke alltid forstår, men som ser tiltalende ut. Lik en rask joggesko med en tyggis på.

    Maria tar ofte snapshot-aktige bilder i grelle farger og med et konfronterende motiv. I motsetning viser dette selvportrettet en ettertenksom jente, perfekt lyssatt i varme farger. Solen spiller over halsen hennes mens skyggene fra et vindu skjuler overkroppen og resten av rommet. Tiden i bildet er liksom stanset opp. Som om hun trykket av mellom to innskytelser, eller idet hun var på nippet til å se løsningen på et problem. Det gir rom til ettertanke og gjør meg veldig nysgjerrig. Hvem er hun? Portrettet står oppå en pussig konstruksjon av to joggesko og to svabre. Maria er fra Mjøndalen, og i et annet liv kan jeg se henne for meg som en vaskekone med bøtte, mopp og et turkis hårbånd. I perioder treffer jeg henne ofte, på åpninger, fester og slike ting. En gang tegnet vi kroki sammen. Pasenau viser gjerne frem kroppen, sin egen og andres. Hun er uredd og bildene hennes insisterer på å vise noe vakkert i mindre flatterende uttrykk og positurer.

    Maria Pasenau



    PDF: Ut i vår hage

Sing Your Life

  • Barcode is all glass, concrete and sharp edges; only sexy if you’re into cold steel, refrigerator white things. Nevertheless, “Sexy Bydel” was the name of the performance-musical in Barcode last Friday. “Is Barcode the articulation of Oslo’s dream of a new identity?” asked the musical’s press release, hinting at a critical take on the district’s rapid development spurred on by big banks and expensive apartments. But instead of interrogating identity, it felt more like Barcode’s chilly atmosphere had seeped into the evening’s performances. The musical was produced with lots of sound, light and smoke, testifying to a rather big production team and budget. While the performances didn’t always match the level of production. Many were similar in tone and energy, a bit restrained and introverted. Often, the performers would be singing in an overly flat and emotionless way. However, a few performances made very good exceptions, and what was more heartwarming was the overwhelming amount of people who showed up. Even sweeter, most of them stayed all the way to the bitter end, two. hours. later.

    iPad performance by Per Westerlund and friends. Photo: Andreas Breivik

    Mumbling from atop a tall bridge, Per Westerlund was the first act out. He had invited three friends to perform R. Kelly’s “I believe I can fly”, but because they couldn’t make it to Oslo, the friends would perform through Skype instead. Appearing on three miniature iPads, the singers were barely visible, and Westerlund seemed purposefully apologetic about this, and how their different internet connections made for an unsynchronised performance. It all added to a “sing with whatever voice you have” kind of feel, which was cute. But the technology and the remoteness of Westerlund and his singers produced a distance between audience and performers which proved hard to overcome.

    Performance by Kristy Kross. Photo: Andreas Breivik

    A bodacious golden nugget of the musical evening was the performance by Kristy Kross. Kross led the audience across the railroad bridge and into the Barcode district, accompanied by the wailing tune of a saxophonist. She was wearing a golden lame mini dress, high heels, a blond wig, and carrying a huge golden sack, about five times her size. She wrestled and schlepped this oversized «purse» like a fancy lady struggling home from town, constantly falling and rolling over, longing for home and that warm, delicious Grandiosa pizza. This woman was a professional. And this was a real piece of performance art! Attesting to careful planning, thoughtout choreography and long hours tailoring the costume. The piece stood out because of the way she iPad performance by Per Westerlund and friends. Photo: Andreas Breivik Performance by Kristy Kross. Photo: Andreas Breivik put her body to work, you could tell she was fighting for real, while her use of the bridge was smart and site specific. Kross’ piece was generous, funny, it made a statement about rich people, homelessness, and alcoholism. Not to mention the burlesque sexuality even kids could enjoy.

    Rasmussen performed some kind of art manifesto in a white spandex suit. She had positioned herself between a white and brown background in what seemed like a too obvious/too vague comment about color. The piece initially had a vibe of European style club music, but the tone finally settled on all out Performance Art. Her lyrics were steeped in critical terms and theory, perhaps overestimating the attention span of her audience who were more hungry for action and entertainment than lectures on Deconstruction.

    The hosts and organizers of the evening was Sexy Boyfriends. They performed a few songs in a narrow hallway imbued with blue light and lots of smoke. Their chanting “The city! The fjord!, You cant afford the fjord!” carried real tension, and was the closest thing to a heartfelt examination of the district’s identity, as the press release promised. It was like an alternative approach to a curator’s speech. When you flirt with dirt, flowers will grow, the song went, and it reminded me of Pocahontas’: «All you’ll own is Earth until you can paint with all the colors of the wind». It was a genuine emotion behind their voices, I can still hear the song in my head, but it wasn’t carried all the way through. For some reason I thought there was going to be dancing.

    Performance by Anna Daniell. Photo: Andreas Breivik

    A sweet family scene erupted as Anna Daniel rolled up in a sparkling new Tesla, her boyfriend riding shotgun as all of her sculptures were cozy in the back seat. They were listening to music and the car itself looked like it was dancing as the doors and trunk opened and closed. The Tesla is like a spaceship, and everyone seemed astonished by the car. Daniell’s work is a lot about putting sculptures in unexpected situations, charging them with the energy of the scene. This family scene was fused with cool, futuristic elegance and techno desire.

    After the car show we were led on a long walk deep into a parking garage where there could have been a carbon monoxide leak, or just a murderer lurking around for all we knew. At this point we really needed DRINKS and a CLIMAX. Then the Wunderkind Collective appeared with either an ironic/disingenuous, or super creepy, drooling version of Cindi Lauper’s “Girls just want to have fun”. There was some kind of gruesome volleyball game going on, the recording kept saying sloppy vulva, but who decides when a vulva is sloppy? Anyways, this went on forever and ever, flooring the energy among the audience.

    And then a little sunshine. Maybe I was finally beaten into submission, but I think that Niels Munk Plum’s performance was psychologically complex and funny. He paced around in a circle, coyly talking about norse mythology while wearing a wrinkly red kimono. He was reminding me of Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs and I was hoping he would kick me into a well. It was captivating, but Plum’s performance didn’t benefit from appearing so late in the program. The last act was an abstract song/performance by Borgen Åndelig Kor, after which we could finally leave the parking space and breathe fresh air. It had been a long night amidst tall buildings,

    Espresso House and indifferent corporations. But one question remained unanswered: to who’s advantage is it to label Barcode a sexy bydel?


Lines and Caricatures

  • Schloss opened their season last week showing early drawings and caricatures by the mysterious artist Olav Bøkestad. Bøkestad, however, is the psevdonym of the more famous photographer Torbjørn Rødland. The drawings conjured sexual fantasies, reflections on academic lines, and caused those suppressed memories from art school spring to the surface.

    Torbjørn Rødland, The Writer, undated

    Let’s do this quick because it’s like everybody’s first opening after summer, and can you sense the awkwardness? – Yes, I have already been here for a while, starting to get drunk.

    Well OK, the time is just right.

    So, I have looked at all the drawings and I figured out that this one is my favourite. Can you understand why?

    I dont know…?

    But don’t you get that immediate feeling you can relate to?

    Oh because it’s like a, like a… Is it like a dick?

    NnnooooOOoo! I mean it’s weird eyes, the nose, the mouth

    Ooh I see. Like that expression of how you feel inside.

    Yeaaahh, this alien grandma flirt. And then, yes, it’s also a bit aroused. And look at those little hands, they are so sweet, but also up to no good.

    Torbjørn Rødland, Glasnost, 1990

    You know it’s actually really sad that Andreas isn’t here to see this. Did you know his grandfather did caricatures? And that’s like the hardest genre to pull off.

    I’m sure you would have to do the something consistently all the time.

    Yeah, you also got to have a good line, be funny and not too…. Whereas, about modernist artists you can always say “oh yes what a fine line, bla bla”. But to make caricatures, you have to be funny and tell a story.

    That’s true. Besides, I like this fancy museum way of displaying work on paper,

    Yeah, very haute, and it’s nice to see it in a garage like this.

    These drawings ARE VERY relatable. Just look at the attention to detail in that possum asshole

    Yesyesyes, but awwww, look at that gremlin! Torbjørn Rødland, The Writer, undated Torbjørn Rødland, Glasnost, 1990 From the gremlin and the possum, we direct our attention to the only colour pencil drawing in the show. This one depicts a chubby cheeked young boy wearing a winter coat and knit hat.

    Isn’t this just like the soul of Norway?

    Well yeaahhh, a little bit sometimes. But it also reminds me of the kid from the Christmas Story, the one who gets his tongue stuck to the light post.

    Sure, but it´s actually a pastiche on Jealousy by Edvard Munch.

    Is it?? – Hahaha i dont know. NO! But look at their faces!

    Anyway, I like what he’s doing with these coloured pencils, it’s like what you learn in drawing school.

    Yes, classic art-school-style. And it’s from 1985 so yes, maybe it is from his art school years. Can you imagine one day someone digs up everything you did in art school? Haha.

    Oh gawd, no, please don’t.

    I think this could also be like a Constance Tenvik show.

    Sure, it reminds me of her work, but it is a little less finished and deliberate, the drawings are more organic and weirdly psychological. Like the Nickelodeon version of Francis Bacon. And look at that fisting going on over here…

    Yes, very nice. I also thought it’s kind of wild to see his capacity for academic drawing and attention to detail, randomly dropped within sketchy, expressive, line figures.

    You know what! I’m really into academic drawings these days.

    OOooOOooOOhhhh. You know what, I think the first one is still my favourite

    The gremlin is mine.

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Clothing for the Apocalypse

  • HAiKw/ had teamed up with a crew of butoh dancers for their fashion show at this season’s Oslo Runway. The performance was very powerful, and it reminded us of the trouble of deciding what to wear, atom bombs, and Beyonce’s dress in Lemonade.

    HAiK with Butoh Encounters, photo: Jan Khür

    So these guys were possessed! Haunted by bad, bad, bad memories.

    I hadn’t really seen an extended piece of butoh before, just small clips and pictures in advertisements. Of course, the first thing I always think of whenever this Japanese dance style comes up is the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The dancers’ “haunted” movements look so pained. And then I realised my whole understanding was pretty western centric and uninformed. I realised that this dance type had as much to do with life and nature as it did about death. Something about the pleasantness of the clothing made everything feel less about being burned alive, I saw myself in them. I saw myself in those clothes!

    Their dragging movements and terrorised faces reminded me of social anxiety, like FOMO or the trouble of deciding what to wear. They were taking in all the shit in the world and coming across as haunted yes, but still dancing.

    Yea, I think those moves landed the show in the “realm of fashion”. It looked like the dancers knew that they should be wearing clothes, but it was as if their bodies had forgotten just how to do it. Likewise with their poses. At certain times they would mimic models on the catwalk and in photo sessions, but only to arrest themselves, putting up agonized grimaces, seconds later. Like, “there’s something I should be doing, something about this shoe… this dress. But what?!?”

    Yeah, the combination of the dancers, their choreography and interaction with the clothes, taking them on and off, showcasing them in a way

    It was funny, like comedy LOL funny. The whole performance took on a feeling of lightheartedness that happened just alongside thinking about death. Not like making light of the situation, but more in a circle of life/life is beautiful/laugh before you cry kind of way. Like this recent video of a man from Houston, Texas, catching a fish in his own flooded home as his wife cheers on and laughs.

    Houston man catches fish in home flooded by Hurricane Harvey, photo: youtube

    The ending, when everyone came together to “heal” the situation, didn’t quite do it for me though. Because I don’t trust that everything will to turn out good in the end. Things can always get worse, and often they do.

    Hello? HAiK with Butoh Encounters, photo: Victoria Duffee

    Yesyes, that’s very glum and true. But the performance also gave me a surreal and uncanny feeling, maybe because of how butoh has been absorbed into horror movies. Anyways, at a certain point I was looking across the room, and for a moment I was watching Bjarne Melgaard watching the dance. So I thought of his beautiful exhibition with little pink pigs in a pink room, before BAM! all of a sudden, a dancer just appeared behind him out of nowhere and I wanted to scream WATCH OUT BJARNE!

    Time to wake up! But surreal, did you notice that guy who kept smelling his shoes in the end?

    Or trying to use it as a telephone?

    Yea. Lines from poems popped up in my head, like this one from “Diving Into the Wreck” by Adrienne Rich:

    We know what it is for,
    we who have used it.
    it is a piece of maritime floss
    some sundry equipment.

    The poem talks of how an object can transport your thoughts to some site of former glory, or tremendous pain. Like what the shoe and the smell seemed to do to the dancer. For anyone else, his shoe is just another shoe. I also thought of Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy”:

    You do not do, you do not do
    Any more, black shoe
    In which I have lived like a foot

    and, you know, the constraints of clothes. In the poem, it is as if the shoe has forced this person to live in a certain way. The performance managed very forcefully to show how clothes can exercise power over us. Like, they shape us! And everyone is not entitled to choose what to wear, there’s no escape, even if those items are stained with traumatic experiences.

    Well, what did you think of the clothes?

    What stood out to me the MOST was their updated take on the velour track suit. I have been dying to see one that doesn’t actually look dumpy in reality, and they hit the nail on the head. Hello?

    Then the floral dress was beautiful. I can also see its black counterpart as a must-own for Art Ladies. I would wear them at any stage of my life to almost any occasion.

    I for sure liked the airy, mesh-dresses. You could be really fabulous in one of those, like Grace Jones or Björk for an evening. Or Rihanna. Or Astrid S.

    Omg YES. The older dancer really had his Lemonade-look going by the end of the night. HAiK with Butoh


January 2019

Looking for love in all the wrong places

March 2018

Dreaming in America

Trippin’ at the gates of womb

December 2017

Deilig er julen

November 2017

John Savio på Studiesalen


September 2017

Ut i vår hage

Sing Your Life

August 2017

Lines and Caricatures

Clothing for the Apocalypse