27 February 2012

Jørund Aase Falkenberg: An Intervening Substance

An Intervening Substance (Through Which Signals Can Travel As A Means For Communication)
Jørund Aase Falkenberg
Prosjektrom Normanns, Stavanger
Cacti and other conceptual art

The room is filled with cactuses (or cacti) in all kinds of sizes, forms and shapes. There is a book with a large circular hole in it, a paper on the wall with text in multiple layers, making it abstract, a pedestal containing layers of glass plates with drawings, and a pile of bamboo sticks and cotton string. This could be a bachelor’s minimalistic apartment or a winter garden. It is not. This is the exhibition ”An Intervening Substance (Through Which Signals Can Travel As A Means For Communication)” by Jørund Aase Falkenberg.

Jørund Aase Falkenberg: Hermeneuein / 30 years
Hermeneuein / 30 years

I have been waiting for this for some time. I knew he was keeping this forest of cactuses in his studio, and I was wondering how he would use them. As they are several decades old and used to belong to the major art critic in town, the succulents are loaded with history and symbolic potential. Cactus is seen as a symbol of something negative, because of its thorns, and often given as a symbol of discontent. But at the same time cactus symbolises persistence and tolerance, being able to live under extreme conditions.

 Jørund Aase Falkenberg: 30 years
30 years

The cactuses of the work “30 years” are not only on display, they are rather inhabiting the room. And on some there is a small piece of paper with a name on. They are all being given away, and those interested must book their favourite for picking up after the exhibition. Instead of the anonymous red sale dots in other galleries, these tags show who is getting it. And here they are given for free, or adopted away. The ”Untitled” piece is a key figure in this matter. The plants have always belonged. First to the art critic, then to the artist, and ultimately to the visitors. Even if the chronology is a bit awkward, they have followed the art cycle from creation to judgment and consumption. But for one moment they are let free. They are even released from the restraining and conforming sticks and strings. But only for a short time. They are already taken by their new owners.  

Jørund Aase Falkenberg: Untitled / 30 years
Untitled / 30 years

It is obvious that the previous ownership of the cactuses is important. The other installations confirm this. Is art existing without viewers? Does a critic or a presentation of art add value to the artwork? Can art critics be an artform itself? 

 Jørund Aase Falkenberg: Black on White
 Black on White

In “Black on White” 100 texts by Norwegian art critics are put on top of each other, becoming unreadable. Too much information is chaos. Today there are rather little information and critics about art in the media. How would it be if art was covered like football is? Would that be to the advantage of art, or would we just suffocate? How would we choose in all the information? Today it is the art critic that chooses for us. We read about what he wants us to read about. But every person would have a different view. Like in the the installation “Hermeneuein” (:the study of the theory and practice of interpretation), where several glass plates with engravings give different views according to the viewers height and sight, and even imagination.

 Jørund Aase Falkenberg: Hermeneuein

The book of  “Art: A New History” is impossible to read, because a major part of the text is missing. What is missing is the most prominent feature of the book. Why is this part missing? What was written there? When exhibitions are not mentioned by the critics, what does it mean? Was it not worth mentioning, was it ignored, or are there other reasons? Voids can be strong measures. Composer Arvo Pärt once said that the silence in music was the most important part.
Jørund Aase Falkenberg: Art: A New History
Art: A New History

Jørund Aase Falkenberg: 30 years
30 years

I tagged one cactus for myself. I know that by this I take responsibility for a living plant. It will stay alive as long as I do not forget it. With a cactus, I might even forget it for a while, but when it returns to my concience, it may still survive. Just like the memories and impressions of art.