Farhad Kalantary „Trails of Water Behind an Passing Boat“ at Stiftfelsen 3.17 gallery //// Review

Three works are shown in the Exhibition „Trails of Water behind a Passing Boat“ by the Azerbaijani Iranian-American artist Farhad Kalantary, who is based in Oslo.

The classical description which fits the Presentation of the works is video installation. Even if it is perhaps intended to experience the three parts as a kind of oneness, the piece “Migrations”gets out of the line. But to understand this I have to introduce the other two works, which are called “Massive Waves of Independence” and “The Day of Removal”. The latter is the first work the visitor of the exhibition gets to see. It´s a LCD-monitor laid on the ground of the staircase of the gallery. The screen shows scenes of workers on an building site from the bird´s eye view. The video is edited in a kind of cut-up technique. Loops of short movements are often repeated, reversed, slowed down or speeded up. Thereby the video gets a rhythmical character which is supported by the sound which is also cutted up. By using this technique the video reminds a bit of a music video clip. This held me off to search for a deeper sense in the video and I stopped at the point of consuming a rhythmical pattern arrangement. As that it worked quite well, for example in the seconds where a worker digging with a spate enters a kind of dialog with a dredger. The most confusing part of the video was the digitally created picture frame in the style of the 19th century or older, which framed the video. On this virtual frame also the title of the work is written and could be read by the visitor.

This Frame is one of a lot of things the second work, with the name “Massive Waves of Independence”, has formally in common with the first one. The difference is that the title of this piece is unreadable because of the bad resolution of the video. I don´t think that this is a problem what was impossible to solve. It´s a pity that this wasn´t done. The screen is also laid down on the floor, which underlined the bird´s eye view, which is used in this videowork too. The video works with smoother movements which are edited more floating compared to “The Day of Removal” . A cutout of a kind of pavement or pedestrian zone is shown. Groups of people are entering and leaving the picture all the time. They are moving forward but often they are pushed back by reversing the video picture. The cutout the camera makes is too small to get a feeling of great masses of people but it´s possible to abstract group building and splitting. It´s an often seen picture used when it get´s to deal with the individual and the crowd. Added with the title(if you are able to decipher it) and the more or less to the picture synchronized sound of natural waves in the water coming out of some speakers, the work becomes just an illustration. An illustration seen many times before.

Now we are at the third work. As announced in the beginning, it also deals with movements and yes it also uses the bird´s eye view but there are differences. Just the size of room, the four projections claim on the wall, makes this video installation dominating the exhibition mere physical. Contrary to the former two works the four video pictures are projected on the wall, although of the use of the perspective from above. The video picture shows vehicles of different kinds, moving from right to left. So the vehicle comes into the picture on the right side of the right projection passes the two projections in the middle and leaves through the left side of the left projection. This makes the four single projections becoming one picture, like a great screen in the cinema just interrupted by three slender columns standing in front of the screen. The vehicles are changing. Sometimes they are cars on a road and sometimes ships on the sea but the movement and direction seems to be always the same. These movements blown up in these huge projections are attracting the eye quite well and by watching a bit something seems curious an you are trying to get behind the technical way this all is realized. The problem is that you will get behind this very fast. And when you got it the work is abruptly quite uninteresting. Not because it would not be made well in an aesthetic and formal way but because of the fact that the whole work is based on a technical effect. So after first being impressed and then getting the technical secret of the work, it has nothing important to say.

At the end there are three videoworks dealing with movement, speed and rhythm, optically as well as acoustically. But for me they don´t become more than researches in abstract movements and the concrete scenes and motives, like workers, crowds,vehicles and the streets, places and seas, stay without a voice in these works. And this is a pity because if you read the handout, which gives you some information about the artist, his background and the background of the shown works it is clear that he has something to say. But the works have to speak not the handouts.

The exhibition is opened till 27. 02. 2009. So visit it in Stiftfelsn 3.14 gallery in Bergen to get your own impression.


“You will be assimilated”

A review of “adaptation now” Linda Soh Trengereid Galley Fisk

In several Star Trek episodes and movies Captain Jean luc Picard and the crew of U.S.S Enterprise is faced of against the BORG, an alien cybernetic race witch main purpose is to assimilate and incorporate everything in their way as a part of the Borg collective.

This might seem like a far fetched reference, but I see many parallels to  the paintings Linda is presenting at fisk , young korean girls that have been assimilated to Norwegian culture, dressed in traditional Bunad for the conformation of there Christian beliefs.
And to top that of they have been equipped with moose horns.
Although the assimilation to Norwegian culture hopefully have been less violent then the methods of the Borg Im sure that its not entirely painless.
Placing moose horns on Korean girls in Bunad gives us a comical approach and insight to a very personal experience of being adopted.
Growing up in a small town in sweden with a friend that was adopted, I often encountered the, and was partly on the receiving end of small town racism.
 My friend  and his sister both adopted from south america handled there adoptions  very differently, 
He showed no interest what so ever to find out where he came from or who his biological parents where, while his sister struggled a lot with issues of identity and belonging.
Some of these issues can possibly be read not in the very well executed portraits them self but in the borders around the paintings, where typical Korean and Norwegian patterns are either perfectly inter weaved or crash, not violently  (at least not in my eyes), but I wonder how someone more familiar with either of the traditions would read it.
I also wonder if these patterns tell a more personal story about the girls in the portraits and how they have experienced the assimilation.
 She also lets the cultures clash in a more subtile way by placing a white silhouette cut out of a young moose in front of a black Seoul city scape painted directly on the wall, turning things around, but also seems to be saying ” yes its a crash but look how beautiful it works together”. And that Is actually something I would like to say about the whole exhibition.The paintings are technically very well executed and the “flower lights” hanging from the ceiling ties the room together making it in to a spatial installation more than an exhibition of paintings.



After the War – review

After the War (parts one and two)
A review of Anja Carr’s installation at Fincken, Bergen

By Emily Ward, 29th September 2008.

Anja Carr’s After the War (parts one and two) completely dominates the upstairs space in the Fincken pub, showing the aesthetic strength and presence the work has. The series is solely wall mounted and occupies very little three-dimensional space. There is a clear separation between parts one and two provided physically by a dividing wall and the contrasting use of media.

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Part one is an initial impressions; the more dominate half of the installation. On display are a series of grotesque, malformed heads; mounted in line on two walls of the room, well above reachable height, I might add! This is also a reference to the decorated deer head displayed above the bar downstairs. In the corner, interrupting the series of heads halfway is a full sized sculpture constructed in a similar style. The room is reminiscent of medieval chauvinistic grandeur; trophies and a suit of Armour as perhaps would be expected in a stately home. The falcon was also a symbol of status in the medieval male hierarchy, nobles were only allowed specific birds dependent on status.

Discovering the title of the piece enhanced this impression for me, the human race has an ongoing and eternal desire to show its dominance over both the animal world and ‘lesser men’. The filmed atrocities allegedly committed by both sides in ‘The War on Terror’ are contemporary examples of this. The fact that the heads are mounted like trophies implies the losers of this war were not perceived to be sentient beings but mere animals. Or perhaps we are merely returning to previous habits when the decapitated bodies of traitors were publicly displayed as a deterrent and show of power.

The full size dimension of the heads and use of organic materials create a distorted, warped sense of reality. Personally, I find the use of multi-tonal human hair has a similar effect on my senses as fingernails being scraped down a blackboard. If the heads were not so cartoon-like in their horror, this room would be a truly terrifying place to be! The sculptures retain elements of humour and western pop culture, I cannot help but be reminded of aliens from the Mos Eisley Cantina bar in Star Wars. The tears, however, do not sit right with me. They feel awfully twee, but perhaps this is the intention? Obviously it is hard to judge the success of this room when viewing it empty, with no bands, dancers and in stark daylight with no blacklights….


Part Two is a more subtle installation yet has more power than Part One. The large heavily framed photograph draws the viewers’ attention, I found it very absorbing, the gaze of the figure is almost hypnotic. It is a very feminist, strong piece with inescapable religious connotations (as was discussed on Thursday). The small side table beneath the main photograph leads the imagination to an altar to the dead. The series is much more serene than part one, it is more melancholic; a memorial rather than a monument. The figure is, to me, a martyr, with the baby pink dress suggesting innocence lost.

Although After the War is not strictly site specific (it does not rely on the space to exist) it relates well to the club and its surrounding culture. The sculptures are flamboyant and grotesque; aesthetic comparisons to Leigh Bowery costumes are unavoidable. There are also more obvious references to contemporary artists, the Chapman Brothers and Sara Lucas. It is very disappointing to hear that members of the lesbian cliental feel so strongly against the piece, especially as the work has such a powerful feminist concept behind it. But, to paraphrase Romunde, a strong message tends to provoke a strong response against it. At least Anja can be confident in the knowledge that her work has provoked fierce debate, which is perhaps the most important purpose/effect of art.

A room with a big electronic computer – review

”Et rom med en stor elektronisk datamaskin”
(”A room with a big electronic computer”)

An exhibition by Karen Skog and Anja Ulset

Review by Linda Trengereid, 26 September 2008

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Galleri Fisk is for the next 2 weeks filled with the works of the two MA students Karen Skog and Anja Ulset. Everything from small drawings, objects of different sorts and plants are occupying the wall space.

The two MA students have been working separately with the small artpieces exhibited, except for the small plants which are taken from a forest called “Ulset Skog”, which is also a combination of the two artist’s last names. This is not the only thing that in a way combines the artists. Their work, although somewhat different in their pursuance, still has many similarities in their expression, and together I think it works as a wholeness, even to the extent that you may sometimes have trouble with separating who’s done what.

On the opening night, and as long as the exhibition is open, they will have a machine in the middle of the room containing tickets which they will sell for 30 kr. The ticket you can change into any artpiece you like best to bring home with you. This action questions the value of art, is their work not worth more that 30 kr?

At “http://www.artbusiness.com/pricerealistic.html” you can read the following:

“The opposite of placing excessively high prices on works of art with high levels of personal meaning or emotional attachment is placing excessively low prices on works of art that lack those qualities. “

I don’t believe this is their intention at all, their work is visibly personal, almost on the verge of being nostalgic. If I was to pay 30 kr for one piece I would in a way feel that I robbed them of one of their personal belongings, not giving anything more in exchange than a burger (a small one actually) at McDonalds is worth.

The viewer of course also has the choice of not exchanging the ticket at all, but just pay for the event itself, or the ticket, which I guess also could be one of the small items exhibited. I wonder if the price had been higher, let’s say about 200 kr, if people would then hesitate more about buying something from the exhibition, because it is no doubt in my mind that the gallery will be quite quickly emptied of the artpieces exhibited for the small amount of 30 kr. And it would be interesting to see what items went first, and what was left in the end.

An art museum in Milwaukee once had a Francis Bacon exhibition, in the marketing e- mail the museum sent out it said under a section headed “What It’s Worth”:

“Your $14 ticket provides you with the opportunity to see paintings that are being sold for $30 million at auction. Learn more about the value of your ticket here.”

The value of the ticket in this case is an artpiece. Or are we then as paying customers giving more of us than they are, simply by engaging in the artist’s “happening”, being led to do as they want us to and the small artpieces that can be ours for only 30 kr working as a carrot?

I think it’s more like a trade. The viewers, or customers if you like, get something they want for a small price, and the artists get what they want, the participation in their artwork, which is really not just all the small objects for sale, but the whole exhibition it self, a happening in a way.

And in the end we may all go home happy.