Brute

  • 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.

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    Brute, Faldbakken