30 August 2011

Your Emotional Future

Olafur Eliasson
PinchukArtCentre, Kiev, Ukraine
Interactive installations

Fun and adventure for everyone, but also an art experience. But this is not substance-less entertainment. You become a part of the art.

The PinchukArtCentre is almost hidden inside a shopping mall, behind century-old facades of central Kiev. The interior is ultrachic, with three floors of temporary exhibition rooms, two floors for the collection, and a flashy white café on the top floor with view to the main boulevard of the city. There was a long line waiting to get into the gallery through the obligatory security check. The entrance was free, and this was the spot in the city I heard most foreign tongues.

All together 15 works are on display, some brand new and made specifically for this exhibition and these rooms. Others are earlier works.

- Your Felt Future
The room seems totally empty, but something is strange. It is the ceiling. It is a wavy mirror, reflecting everything that might be in the room into weird, amorphic patterns.

- Your Disappearing Garden
The floor of the room is covered by black lava rocks. Is this a rock garden, or is the garden underneath it, being covered by a vulcano eruption?

- Your Blind Movement
You enter the room and are lost. The room is covered with smoke. Your only way of orientation is the different light colors of different parts of the room.

- Model for a Timeless Garden
In the dark room the light flashes in short, frequent pulses. This makes the splashing water seem like standing still the moment the light is on. Flowing water is creating ever changing sculptures.

- Kepler Was Right Bike
A perfectly ordinary bike, except the wheels are made of mirrors. The reflection of the wheels are creating a second pair of wheels on the floor.

- Happiness
You need to peek through a narrow slit in the wall to see this work. In front of you is a vast landscape of water and soap bubbles. The bubbles are created and vanishing constantly, making a fragile, fluctating landscape.

- Room for One Colour
With only one color of light - yellow - you and everything else in the room turn yellow/black. Details that otherwise are camouflaged in colour become visual, and colorful details become invisible.

- Reflection Magnet
The mirror ball in the yellow room makes the experience even weirder. The monochrome you get reshaped in the concave mirror of the ball.

- Your Uncertain Shadow
Passing through the room you cast multiple shadows on the wall. This makes you want to dance and make strange movements, seeing how the shadow will react to it.

- Camera Obscura
In a dark room you see the reflection of the outside through a tiny hole. The outside is brought inside into this primitive camera, but it is turned upside down.

- Parabolic Planet
A lava stone is hanging in front of an enlarging mirror. From the dark side you see only the contours of the rock, but in the mirror you see all the fine details of the porous stone.

- Your Star House
Seeing into this triangle of mirrors, you see your multiple reflections like in a caleidoscope.

- Water Pendulum
Like in "Model for a Timeless Garden" time is frozen by the rapid flashing of the light. But here the water flows from a tube, swaying randomly from the ceiling. Thin curvous sculpture are created on your retina, until a different sculpture appears by the next flash of light.

- Beauty
Light is sent through a water mist, and you may find the rainbow in there.


Your experiences are a crucial part of the artwork. Some may exit from the exhibition saying: "that was fun", yet others may say "that was an experience that made me look at things differently". It would be impossible to stay totally untouched by this exhibition.

Forced to leave my camera at the entrance, I realised that most of the works could not be experiences through a camera lens. It had to be experienced with my senses, and not only by seeing. Some works you look at (water sculptures, rocks on the floor, mirror ceiling), some you need to participate with (peeking though the tiny slit to see the soap bubbles, navigating in the fog-filled room, creating a multiple shadow), some even may make you act in a way you never acted before (making the multiple shadow dance, navigating through the fog-filled room).

Not only the viewer and his emotions are part of the artwork, the location and the rooms are as well. Some works use the room as an important part of the installation (mirror ceiling, walls hidden in the fog, yellow light). Some works communicate with the location (camera obscura).

My strongest experiences at the exhibition:

I enjoyed how I was forced to use my senses in a new way. I have never before seen water this beautiful as in the "water sculptures". Well, maybe on photos, but never with my own eyes.

Losing my vision and sense of space in the smoke-filled rooms, I was using other senses to explore the area, careful not to bump into others lost in the fog. I managed to emerge from the fog, but it changed how I look at spaces, and it changed how I look at the sense of sight. I have hardly experienced artwork with this strong impact on my senses.

Pictures from the website, copyright information: Courtesy the artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York © Olafur Eliasson 2011. Photo by Dmitry Baranov; courtesy PinchukArtCentre

29 August 2011


Serina Erfjord, Ragnhild Johansen, Sandra Vaka Olsen, Nina Torp
Curated by Gunhild Moe
Rogaland Kunstsenter, Stavanger
Installations, videos, photos

At first glance this exhibition looks rather boring. Plywood plates leaned against the wall, a large blue glass plate hanging on the wall, a grainy picture of a beach, and video of a waterfall. But things are not what they seem. Every object contain a surprise. I like surprises.

In this fourth exhibition curated by Gunhild Moe four female artists present their quite diffent works. They all have in common a fascination for nature and natural materials. And they all seem to enjoy surprising the viewers.

Arcadia opening
Arcadia opening at Rogaland Kunstsenter

Ragnhild Johansen: Leaning 3-ply #
Ragnhild Johansen: Leaning 3-ply

On three locations plywood plates are leaned against the wall. They seem like perfectly ordinary plywood. But at second glance, the pattern of the wood seems rather extraordinary. It would truly be a sensation if plywood with this pattern were found in the material shop. The wood lines are dancing, blending into each other and on the whole acting quite unusual. With a close examination I see that the extraordinary pattern is painted onto the real plywood pattern, with such a skill that it looks very natural.

Ragnhild Johansen: Class A EUR-pallet
Ragnhild Johansen: Class A EUR-pallet

Ragnhild Johansen's fourth object is also about painting wood on wood, but in a different way. The reflection of the pallet is painted on the plywood piece it is standing on, like if the plywood has become a mirror.

Nina Torp: But outside, everything is immeasurable
Nina Torp: But outside, everything is immeasurable

A postcard shows some kind of restaurant interiour. The decorations are a nature scene in the indoor location. It seems like some scene from the old days. But seen through the adjoining mirror the scene seems to change character. The scene comes alive, it becomes three-dimensional, and drags you into it. You are drawn into the fairytale land of the postcard.

Nina Torp: Memoirs of A Tourist. Waterfall #1. Cascade de Barberine
Nina Torp: Memoirs of A Tourist. Waterfall #1. Cascade de Barberin

In a dark room and on a pedestal videos of two different waterfalls are shown. But something seems to be unnatural about the movies. The water is moving, but the surroundings and the rocks in the river seems to be isolated from the water. In fact these are collages of video and photo, where the water is shot in one location and the surroundings in another. The location of the waterfall is where the water is not flowing anymore. The photo of the site would just show a dry waterfall. The video of running water is cut into the picture. She is bringing life back to the waterfall, even if it feels slightly unnatural.

Sandra Vaka Olsen: Pixel drops (Stromboli)
Sandra Vaka Olsen: Pixel drops (Stromboli)

A print of a blurry scene, decorated with some colourful dots. This it what this seems like at first glance. This is actually a photo of a monitor showing a scene from the movie "Stromboli", and the dots are water drops that magnify the color units on the screen.

Sandra Vaka Olsen: Grain Picture Sand Place
Sandra Vaka Olsen: Grain Picture Sand Place

The Italian island Stromboli is the motive of all Sandra Vaka Olsen's work in the exhibition. Her giant printout show a picture from a beach at real life Stromboli. The picture is coarse and grainy, like it had been shot with high ISO on a dark day. But this is also the grain structure of the sand. Here the grains of the sand have affected also the sky, the sea and the rock. All surroundings has got the sandy structure, just like all your clothes and things are filled with sand after a day on the beach.

Serina Erfjord: Headache
Serina Erfjord: Headache

On a pedestal is a green lump of something undefinable. It seems like some jelly, slime or something else disgusting. But if you dare to look closer, there is a movement. The lump is silently, constantly trembling. The title is "headache", like it could be a visualisation of a headache, or it may give you a headache if you stare at it too long.

Serina Erfjord: Normal. Blue
Serina Erfjord: Normal. Blue

A large, shiny blue plate is hanging on the wall. At first it seem like some giant glazed salad bowl. But the plate is moving, it is slowly turning. And looking closer, the surface on the plate is floating, the rotation keeps the liquid from dripping down to the floor. 


This is an exhibition that I really enjoyed, because it was surprising and challenged me. The works fit well together, creating a whole of a collection of quite different works and expressions.

Some of the artworks have visible surprises, if you really look for it. This is the case for the works of Serina Erfjord and Ragnhild Johansen. Still, some viewers did not notice the surprise until it was pointed out. Other surprises are more subtle, and will pass unnoticed if you do not happen to get a guided tour in the exhibition. This is the case for the works of Nina Torp and Sandra Vaka Olsen. I believe this exhibition will not give its full potential without a guide. If you do not know how and why the waterfall videos are made, they will just seem like videos of waterfalls. Without knowing the connection to the movie "Stromboli", the works by Sandra Vaka Olsen will just seem like some coarse nature photos.

28 August 2011


Street Art in Tallinn
Anton (EST), Keuz (FRA), Yusk (BRA), Joys (ITA), Peeta (ITA), Made (ITA), Multistab (EST, Tone (POL), Honet (FRA)

KONT is festival arranged for the second time, bringing street art to the people of Tallinn. Street art have not yet emerged widely in Estonia, probably due to strong law enforcement and bureaucratic obstacles.

The crew behind KONT have created a concept that was possible to get permission for. Eight shipping containers were placed on the urban shoreline at Kalasadam, providing painting space for an impressive selection of international artists. Estonia's own street art heroes Multistab are on the visit list as well. Unfortunately the containers were due to be removed after only two weeks. But the crew had put together a very interesting program during those two weeks. Each artist stayed for two days to do his work, and each artist held an artist talk for the public.

Unfortunately I was only able to visit the site in the beginning of the period. But I am hoping this turns into an annual happening. Here are some impressions:

Work by Anton and Keuz
The Kont installation in Kalasadam. The obligatory 24/7 security guard makes sure nobody gets hurt by the containers.

Work by Yusk
Finished work by Joys

Work in progress by Peeta and Made
Work in progress by Peeta and Made

Work by Yusk
Work by Yusk

Work by Yusk and Joys

26 August 2011


Kumi Machida
Hå gamle prestegard, Hå, Norway
Nihonga paintings

In a unique mix of traditional Japanese art and contemporary Japanese pop art Kumi Machida presents a representative collection of her work. She presents persons without personality, sex and age. They are like face-less robots, some even have USB-connections or an empty head. At the same time the techniques she is using adds a thick layer of personality to the motives. The outlines are made from hundreds of strokes with a thin, dry brush, and the color fields seems like three-dimensional. This gives an effect like the paintings have different thickness, it makes me want to touch these intriguing forms.

Somehow Machidas paintings fit very well with the Pushwagner exhibition in the other building. Both artists show persons without personality, but they do it with a very personal touch, adding personality to the faceless people.

Kumi Machida: Visions

Kumi Machida: Visions

Kumi Machida: Visions

Kumi Machida: Visions


Beili Liu
Hå gamle prestegard, Hå, Norway
Site specific installations

On the second floor of the barn, under a leaky roof, is a strange building. It has the shape of a simplified house, but at the same time it seems fragile. Coming closer I notice that it is made from about 600 white 1,5-2m long units hanging from the ceiling. It is actually made from wax drippings, which makes it extremely fragile. Some parts are even broken off, by visitors or maybe by the draft. This just shows how fragile the construction is, and I get a sense of how massive work it must have been to construct this.

Beili Liu: Recall

Beili Liu: Recall

On the other side of the same hall is a spider web of white string connected to the ceiling and floor. In the center is not a spider, but a scissor completely wrapped in the string. In a scissor-paper-rock game scissor would win over paper, like it would over string. But here string is the winner. The web has won over the spider.

Beili Liu: Recall

Beili Liu: Recall

25 August 2011


Hå gamle prestegard, Hå, Norway
prints, paintings and video

Entering the world of Pushwagner is entering a world of extreme conformity in extreme colors. Myriads of identical people are living identical lives, while the authorities control that the conformity is total. It is the world of George Orwell's "1984", or the sci-fi movies and novels of the 70s. But Pushwagner creates this black-and-white world in a wide variety of colors. This world seems horrible and repulsive, but with Pushwagners colors it becomes almost tolerable, maybe even tempting.

Pushwagner: Vertigo

This is visible in the large paintings of multistorey buildings with identical inhabitants, or in the massive amount of persons inhabiting the inside of the artist's head in his self portrait.

Pushwagner: Self portrait

The picture series "A day in the Man family's life" shows a pink-and-black story of a typical day in a typical family in this world. A boy wakes up, dad goes to work together with all other dads, in the evening they watch tv and go to sleep. Nothing extraordinary at all. But hey, isn't that a typical day of our lives as well? Are we really in Pushwagnerland already?

Pushwagner: En dag i familien Manns liv
Pushwagner: En dag i familien Manns liv

23 August 2011

Anthology of video experiments

Erikk McKenzie
Beer halls, Tou Scene, Stavanger
video art

Walking into the darkness of the beer halls at Tou Scene, I head for the light in the innermost hall. There are several screens showing different work by Erikk McKenzie. Some tell a story about a special place, some are time- and spaceless, and only one is staged. McKenzie presents his videos as experiments, and they are very different experiments. One video tells the story about ordinary people facing multinational companies in a struggle for drinking water. Another video features a man in dress dancing in a churchyard. And one is a wild mix of super-8 clips. My favourite is the only video with a script. Workers in orange overalls pop out of a pipe on the roof of Tou scene. It is filled with humour and aestetics.

I enjoyed how the videos were presented: on a screen in a shopping cart, on a tv in front of a sofa, projected on the wall. This is a landscape of videos.

Erikk McKenzie - videos

Erikk McKenzie - videos
Erikk McKenzie: Thruth spat me into a world of conventions

Already seen

Kamilla Skrinde: Allerede sett
Bunkersen, Tou Scene, Stavanger
at Tou Scene, 18.8.-11.9.11

Kamilla Skrinde presents her photos both framed on the walls and in her do-it-yourself fanzine. She shows staged photos, exploring the possibilities of the body. I was most impressed by a photo of an arm on a table. I suppose the rest of the body is there as well, but I can not be sure. This could be a crime scene, or this is somebody that fell under the table. The hand shows a gesture like it wants to tell something, but I do not understand what.

I also like her nice idea of making a limited-edition fanzine to display her other works. The fanzines were laid out on a table in the middle of the room, like a sculpture.

Kamilla Skrinde: Allerede sett

Kamilla Skrinde: Allerede sett

Structures by the Sea

Mona Orstad Hansen
Galleri Sult, Stavanger
Paintings and prints

Celebrating 10 years of Gallery Sult, this year's Stavanger artist exhibits her work. Her paintings have infinite layers, and the sea theme is in there for sure. In the prints the sea is even more present. There is a depth in her pictures that is always engaging.

Mona Orstad Hansen: Structures by the sea

Mona Orstad Hansen: Structures by the sea

Mona Orstad Hansen: Structures by the sea

artist web page here

21 August 2011

Lost in Transition

Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia, Tallinn
An exhibition about contemporary Eastern Europe.
Part of the "Your Periphery Is My Center" exhibition series.

It is a lot about crossing borders in this exhibition curated by Rael Artel. Most of all geographical borders in Eastern Europe:

Crossing the borders from Latvia to UK in search for a future with love and money.
Crossing the former closed border from Serbia to Croatia in search for a lost past.
Crossing the border to the world of the ugly and the outcasts.
Crossing the border to Finland and Norway for work.
Crossing the borders of time and space in Chisniau, Moldova.

Many different stories are told, many are familiar, but with a certain twist of black humour. Some stories are certainly fictious, like the drawing of the the teacher so ugly she makes the students throw up. But sometimes life is stranger than fiction, like how the street names of Chisniau have changed so much that nobody knowns them anymore.

Here are some of the highlights:

Gergely Laszló & Katarina Śević: Home Museum
Gergely Laszló & Katarina Śević: Home Museum

After years with a closed border between Serbia and Croatia, Serbians were finally allowed to visit their summer houses in Croatia. In the meantime several people have used the houses. When the original owners returned to their house they had no idea what had happened in the meantime, they had only clues. The garbage and leftovers become a documentary of what happened on the other side of the border.

Zampa di Leone: Selected drawings
Zampa di Leone: Selected drawings

The cartoons of Zampa di Leone poke fun at the art world in a rough and brutal way. In this one a curator from the Estonian forest (an obvious hint to this exhibition's curator) does not get funding as her plans are not mainstream enough. Art life in the Baltics is not like in Basel.

Alexei Gordin: Disgusting Teacher
Alexei Gordin: Disgusting Teacher

The disgusting and repulsive drawings by Alexei Gordin contain loads of black humour, leading us into a world of outcasts, horrible situations and the underworld of any town.

Wojtek Doroszuk: Special Features
Wojtek Doroszuk: Special Features

Here we meet Norwegian nature and Polish workers. They travel to Norway dreaming of beautiful nature and easily earned money, but meet hard work and problematic work conditions.

Flo Kasearu: Basic Navigation for Chisinau
Flo Kasearu: Basic Navigation for Chisinau

As the street names were renamed for every change of politics and rulers, the inhabitants do not know the names of the streets anymore. As the Estonian artist ask for different contemporary probable names, the moldovians struggle to be able to show the right direction. The traveller is lost, but the inhabitants are lost as well. She asks for names like "Liberty", "Dalai Lama", "Nobel", but they are nowhere to be found.

Arnis Balćus: Contemporary Latvians
Arnis Balćus: Contemporary Latvians

A typical Latvian from a typical Latvian family follows the typical pattern of travelling abroad in search of a better future. But his future turns out to be rather untypical. The story is laid out like a family album in frames on the wall in a typical Latvian living room. He starts out in a Latvian school uniform, with a normal family, even a rich relative with BMW. But he travels to the UK, gets a job and a girlfriend. But in the end he marries a muslim woman, and instead of them finding a future abroad, she becomes a Latvian citizen. He is not the only one gaining from his border crossing.

Anna-Stina Treumund: Loser
Anna-Stina Treumund: Loser

A female dressed as a man talks about himself. He is an Estonian, working in Finland, having several kids with several women, and he hates foreigners and homosexuals. The movie is showing a normal interview with a typical Estonian man. But in the background is the laughter of a tv-comedy, turning this into a comedy. The typical Estonian becomes a parody.


Rael Artel has curated an exhibition with a wide variety of artists and art, all well fitting to the theme. In Estonia many of the stories told are like familiar stories about someone you know. Had the exhibition been displayed in for example Norway, these would be stories about others, about East Europeans. I believe it would work well also in that context, maybe it would even be stronger.

What gets lost in transition? What do you lose when you cross a border? Do you lose your past or your future? Or your identity? Judging from this exhibition you rather gain something in transition: a past, a future or an identity.

Exhibition page here