Land of Confusion
Paintings/collages from New York City
How can you visualize the essense of New York City? More than just one view or logo, Silje Heggren shows the mix and abundance of impressions as the essence of the Big Apple.
She spent an amount of time in the city, and decided to give in totally
to the impressions. She set out to visit 100 exhibitions in one instant.
Setting out on a quest like this must be like a catharsis, after that
it is surprising she had the strenght to go on painting herself.
Apparently she avoided catching the Stendthal Syndrome (also called the
Florence syndrome, when tourists collapse after too many impressions in
Florence), and turned to large painted collages of what she experienced.
The base for her paintings seems like random spots in the suburbs, in
the subway or somewhere unspecific. The information overload and
absurdity is added by inserting out-of-place and out-of-scale objects
and ad figures. This changes the scene from a boring everyday setting to
a burlesque circus. I know that scenes sufficiantly absurd are abundant
in NYC, but Heggren has found the need to absurdize further. Somehow I
do not understand the purpuse, as reality can be so absurd itself, but I
also understand her need to push on layer upon layer of visual
The visual languange of street art is strongly present in her paintings,
both in method and motive. She uses the technique of stencils to
extract the crucial lines of the motive. But she also have direct
references to murals by painting graffiti and street art, for instance a
squirrel motive by Belgian artist ROA.
The touristic elements are almost visible by not being present. No
Empire State Buildings here. As a visitor in a foreign country, the
obvious motives are important enough, but often everyday motives leave
equally strong impressions. Like an ATM sign, a hamburger ad figure, gas
Land of Confusion