Rogaland Kunstsenter, Stavanger
Photos of artist studios and art venues in the Stavanger area.
There may be many different ways to present the life of an artist. It may be done by a survey on the artists' working conditions, a systematic documenting of the conditions, or it may be done artistically. Christopher Jonassen does the latter, mixing in elements from the two first.
A recent survey has concluded that visual artists are the working group with longest working hours, the worst working spaces and the lowest income. This is especially the case in Stavanger, due to high rental prices. In this exhibition we get an insight behind those numbers and facts, seeing impressions from artist studios, their environments, and the art venues of Stavanger.
The exhibition consists of three parts: Inside artist studios, outside studios and outside art venues. Some texts from the survey mentioned above are also present. I am a bit unsure if the different themes are to be considered as parts of the whole picture or if I should rather consider this being three different exhibitions.
Artist studio interiors
This is not a systematic presentation of the variety of artist studios and their locations. That could also have been an interesting project. This is rather a limited choice of photos of exteriors and interiors that also has photographic and aesthetic value. The stains we see on the walls are put there by the artists, not as a result of decay of the building.
Jonassen has found the beauty in the buildings that most would consider ugly, hopeless or ignorable. These buildings are loved by their artists, despite of the cold, the noise, the mould, the draft and the bugs inside. And these are actually spaces where wonderful art is made.
Artist studio exteriors
It is great that the art center shows behind-the-scenes photos of the creation processes of art, or rather the spaces where the process takes place. I am also a bit amused by the fact that I have to enter one of the art venues on the photo to see the photo of it. Maybe I was even inside that building when this photo was taken?
I am most moved by two photos of a burning building, where there was an artist studio in the basement. The plan of destroying the ruins of this historically and artistically important building has already been made and has been approved. This very much shows the chronology of things: Many of the old buildings now used as artist studios are not being torn down yet due to their heritage value, but sooner or later "progress" forces its way through anyway. The number of buildings available for artists are decreasing. The positive section of the exhibition is photos of renovation works at the Tou Scene buildings, investments that are done exclusively to make better working conditions for visual artist, yet only for a few.
Artist studio exteriors
All in all I consider this a great exhibition combining Jonassen's mission of promoting the artists' conditions (as some kind of continuation of the "Hvem eier historien?/Who owns history?" installation at MUST in March 2014), and his skills as a photographer (as for instance in his "Before we begin" exhibition at Tou Scene in 2010).