picture opens up.
Text: Elise Schonhowd, artist
New York #10, 2016, 107x255 cm, photography on brushed aluminium.
When an image first emerges, and later turns into what is to become a work of art, it is subject to a process that only in parts reveals itself to the awareness of the artist. There is of course the clear intention of the photographer, but rarely does a work of art spring from that alone. Along with the audience who sees the work on the gallery-wall for the first time, also the artist is in part a participant in an unfolding of the image that will inform as well as question the very bases for its existence. A moment caught by the camera introduces us into a world that stretches far beyond that which we are seeing, in this case the seafront of a modern building. The history of image making goes far back in human history, and one might therefor dare to speculate that the image itself has sprang forward, for us to catch a glimpse of something beyond our expectation.
There will most likely be many occurrences taking place as an image draws attention, first from the artist and later from the audience. The picture presently in question, hangs on the wall, large and shining. A quality that at first might be described as that one of dry denim, is visually present at a first glance. It covers the brushed aluminum plate the photo is printed on, creating in its wake a sense of an animated surface. A surface capable of inviting a closer encounter with the viewer. As one walks closer the work seems almost alive, light tracing the movements of the curious spectator. Elegant, horizontal, low-voiced, the photo evokes a sense of an ordered structure. Though some of the work might look abstract. One observes fine lines, vertical shapes, divisions that repeat themselves. This might lead to a first impression calling up related scores such as in minimalistic music. The repetitions might be to blame for this, or - is blame really the correct word to use? Why blame? Could it be because on a closer look one realizes that the first impression was deceiving, and that the picture surface covers as much as it slowly starts to reveal.
At a closer look, that which lays as a base - the brushed metal - and the photo printed on top, meets in a flowing feast for the eye. Then, at first, is perhaps somewhat confusing, since what gets picked up is that which breaks away from the solidity of the piece of modern architecture, it all of a sudden presents us with the presence of water reflected on the surface of the building. We notice that none of the windows we thought provided us with the idea of repetitions, well …none of them now seem to be quite alike. A small eternity passes as one delights in the play of light on the glass. Looking becomes something more. It becomes physical. The gallery floor we stand on melts away under our feet as our perception changes. At this moment, we might be drawn to associate and remember the work of the American artist Bill Viola, who's many films slows us down to a different sense of space and time. As the image slows down, so do we, and movement seems to take place in just such a sense of water. The water becomes time and the human bodies we watch, exists in a light made of air. The picture on the wall continues to open up, continues to open us up perhaps, at the same time. A movement takes place in two directions simultaneously. We enter further into the building as we also become aware of a bodily inner space bathing in the shimmering light from the water. We are in a large city, NY, but what seems to create a bridge between the seen and that not seen, is the natural presence of water. We move with ease from the cool surface of a modern building into where the people are. A measure of time has at that moment changed.
The sky is part of the water. The wind is part of the water. The boats that sail by puts in motion something we recall. We aren't only seeing at this point; the pool of memories is stirred up. The morning light washes cleanses our gaze, and we can see further, clearer. Closer. Our eyes catches hold of more, of details, previously overlooked. We notice something soft and realize that we are looking at curtains, and we realize soon because of their similarly that we are looking - not at just any modern office building, but a hotel full of stories of lives lived parallel to ours. Rooms without permanent inhabitants, box-like structures that witness the lives of the many that for hours and days on end find refuge here. Alone or accompanied by someone. Seeking freedom from all at home, withdrawal from life's many difficulties, exposure in anonymous surroundings, expectations of the many things the city has to offer, or sheer weariness from the hustle and bustle of a hectic working life, are some of the reasons why people stay in these rooms for a while.
The curtain that opens these inner spaces and numerously imagined lives lived in these rooms, might not be noticed at first and then suddenly appear by surprise as one’s initial gaze is about to leave the picture. And as these imagined lives are seen, one will notice a small change of pace, and the curtain that partially hides a bed, draws our thoughts towards (the) night. Towards the body. Towards human skin. It stands there - unmade. Someone will come. Someone will clean and tidy. But here are the traces of the person who lays there. Alone or together with somebody. And that is when you might feel that you have seen this before, in other places, at other times. Maybe you will think of the old masters, like the painter Giotto who's alter pieces might have been ones first encounter with art. One might remember the bottom panels which illustrates the lives of the saints, the many difficulties taking place, so different to the calm promising state of the main central panel. You stand there, experiencing the inner depths and the surface, at the same time. With skin. And the smooth shining surfaces. That is when you realize that the picture has just barely begun to reveal itself. That is how I remember the picture I saw in Gjøvik, Norway, April 2017.
Introversion&Extroversion 2016, 200x150 cm x 2, photo on brushed aluminium. EXIBITION Everything Else is Too Narrow: Anne Katrine Senstad, Christine Istad and Anna Marit Staurset Curated by Sarah Walko Bærum Kunsthall, Fornebu, Norway 2016 www.baerumkunsthall.no Everything Else is Too Narrow: Everything Else is too Narrow brings together the work of three contemporary Norwegian artists. The title is derived from a poem titled All Things by Hadewijch of Brabant (or sometimes called Hadewijch of Antwerp) who lived in the 13th century in what is now Belgium and she is often referred to as one of the greatest names in medieval Flemish and Dutch literature. The poem begins with the lines “All things are too small to hold me” and it was this tone that came to mind in relation to the works in this exhibition. Although the artists vary in mediums, processes and approaches there is a search, an act of uncovering the essence in form in each of the works. Each piece hovers somewhere in the process of becoming or decreation but also transcends temporal cycles of birth and decay. They instead are like suspended threshold occasions, revealing a visual process of when something moves away from one thing to become another. The ancient Greek word poïesis is the root of our modern word "poetry" however it was first a verb. It was an action. The action referred to anything that transforms and continues the world, but not in technical production or in a romantic sense. It referred to an action that reconciles thought with matter and the individual person in time. The works carry this tone of both reconciliation and awe. They seem to strive not to generate meaning, but rather to simply reveal the meanings that are already there. Christine Istad uses the camera to pull out patterns and elemental structures from her surroundings. All pieces in this exhibition are large format printed on brushed aluminum and are in-depth studies of small fragments of reality. In her work she is striving for a sense of interconnection; how things relate to each other and how they fit together. She focuses on architectural structures, however the architecture is often only sensed and she pulls out the abstraction from the concrete forms. In her process she is interested in discovering, the discovery of a motif or something surprising or noteworthy in the surroundings. Her photographs are never manipulated; they are taken as they are seen. Istad’s broader focus is on the relationship between humans and modern society. Franz Kafka wrote about what many have termed “modern man’s cosmic predicament”, the struggle of the individual within cities during his time. Istad’s work elicits a similar investigation with the themes of finding beauty and space for contemplation within alienation and searching for a place and transformation within present day architectures and super cities. She presents these slivers of space in a way that evokes an element of surprise and in doing so creates a perceptual shift ushering in a recognition that things, in fact, are not exactly as they seem and solid, stable structures can be windows into new narratives and new spaces.