10 February 2012

Lights On - Bakspeilet 2012

Lights On
Bakspeilet 2012
Rogaland Kunstsenter, Stavanger
Brede Korsmo (NO) The Search / Susanne Christensen (DK) The Himation / John Smith (UK) Leading Light / Sidsel Christensen (NO) Light
Curated by Daniela Arriado
Outdoor video art

Bakspeilet at Nytorget

Video art is a demanding art form. It requires the viewers to spend their time and patience to see the whole video. You never know, some videos are uniform from start to end, some contain surprises. Thus video art is depending on the surroundings of how it will be percieved. A comfortable seat may trigger a different perception than an uncomfortable surrounding.

The "Lights On" exhibition takes the environment to the extreme. The videos are shown on the facade of Rogaland Kunstsenter at Nytorget in Stavanger. The viewers must stand between parked and moving cars in temperatures below zero for 27 minutes to see the entire program. This exhibition will get two types of viewers: Those who deliberately come here and those who happen to notice it passing by. If you want people to stop and see the artworks, the videos must be really interesting and tempting. To attain this, Daniela Arriado has curated an exhibition focusing on what is really missing in a Stavanger winter: Light. In all videos light is a crucial element.

Bakspeilet at Nytorget
John Smith: Leading Light

In "Leading Light" the sun rays are shining into a room, increasing in strength. Instead of revealing, light is at first a disturbing element, showing only parts of the interior. Light is a disturbance, showing some fractions of what is there, but not enough to understand what it is. But slowly the lit areas grow until all is revealed. It is a rather long video for outdoor shows (11 minutes), so instead of seeing a story of change, most viewers will see fractions, appearing as abstract forms. In this way the video gets a new appearance in this context.

Bakspeilet at Nytorget
Sidsel Christensen: Light

In "Light" we see a bright light that appears to emerge from a female mouth. Knowing that this is part of a series Sidsel Christensen made of women in nightclubs holding a mirror inside their mouth, gives a feeling of freezing time. Being able to make a person in party mood stand still for five minutes instead of dancing and partying is impressive, and add the glow, and the moment becomes magic. Not knowing where and what is happening, the figure appears as a mystical alien or saint spreading her holy light of knowledge or magic words.

"The Himation" shows a sculpture/person partly hidden in strongly lit curtains, barely moving. In this setting, where the video is shown on a window, you feel like looking into a home. You see something moving in the curtains, but cannot really make out if it is a person or not. It shows nothing of the background or interior. The video itself has no references to any geographical place, but when the location is known, it changes my perception of it. Susanne Christensen filmed this in Damascus, Syria. My limited knowledge of Damascus is triggered: cultural heritage, ancient history, dictatorship, civil war. How is this video related to ancient or present Damascus, or is it related at all? Would I react differently if I was told it was filmed in Barcelona?

The background story of "The Search" is even greater than the video itself. The artist lost his camera into the water in Rio, and it kept filming until he found it again. We see the shifting light through the water surface, swimmers passing over, and the happy ending where the artist picks up the camera.


exhibition web page here