07.02.13 – 09.03.13
NIELS BONDE / ELINA BROTHERUS / JESPER CARLSEN / ASTRID KRUSE JENSEN / PERNILLE ROSE GRØNKJÆR / EVA KOCH / SØREN MARTINSEN / MATT SAUNDERS / LISA STRÖMBECK / EBBE STUB WITTRUP
For the first time in the gallery’s history Martin Asbæk Gallery is showing an all-VIDEO exhibition with works from the gallery’s artists. They are all artists who, besides video art, also work with other artistic genres. Today video is a widely recognized artistic medium accepted by the art institutions. Alongside this, for the third year running, Nikolaj Kunsthal is presenting the video art festival FOCUS – which has become a conspicuous platform for video art with a generous programme of works from Denmark and abroad.
The history of video art
Video art can be dated back to the USA of the 1960s, where artists embarked in earnest on the new technology and began exploring its many visual and narrative possibilities. A general feature of the early video pioneers such as Nam June Paik, Bruce Nauman and Vito Acconci is the investigation of the relationship between the body, the spatial surroundings and the potential of the medium for expe¬rimenting with the experience of time, loops, freeze frames and slow motion. Many women artists also took up the medium, since they saw it as unburdened by history and free of the rules and tradi¬tions of male-dominated art history. Through the 1970s and 1980s it was important to operate with the concept of video art as an isolated genre, while video today appears on an equal footing with photography and painting in contemporary group exhibitions.
The works of the artists
EVA KOCH’s double projection August, 2008 meets the viewer at the entrance to the gallery. The projections are placed opposite each other; an elderly Greenlandic woman, Augusta, stands on a hilltop in one projection, and in the other Augusta’s family walks towards her. The video installation is a visualization of an encounter between Augusta in Denmark and her family in Greenland. It is a living portrait, a modern family picture in all its diversity, which is played out in Augusta’s memory. In its own under¬stated way the installation turns the focus on being away from one’s family and underscores the longing and sense of loss that can arise.
The Black Bay Sequence, 2010 by the widely known Finnish artist Elina Brotherus was presented this autumn in the exhibition New Nordic at the LOUISIANA MUSEUM OF MODERN ART. In the work the artist steps naked, slowly and gracefully, into an ice-cold lake in Finland. It is like a classic Romantic scene: gloomy, fascinating and aesthetic, with a partly dark sky that is broken up by a pink glow. The work has the look of a painting more than a film – a carefully constructed vision of the sublime, rather than a simple action.
The film director Pernille Rose Grønkjær and the artist Astrid Kruse Jensen joined forces and created the art film The House Inside Her in 2011. The work has no real narrative action, but abandons itself to visual poetry where the viewer creates his or her own connections and meanings. The result is a sensual, seductive tableau that hovers between dream and reality.
Another work that allows the visual imagery to predominate is by the American artist Matt Saunders, who is showing a new animation, created from innumerable ink-on-Mylar drawings and edited into hypnotic moving pictures. The work has just been presented at the TATE Museum of Modern Art in Liverpool.
Reality is similarly suspended in the film installation Mary Rose – A Play in Three Acts, 2011 by Ebbe Stub Wittrup. The three 16 mm films are presented on an old projector, and each describes physical places and specific objects that have mysterious histories. Ebbe Stub Wittrup often works in a philosophical vein and explores the enigmatic layers of existence. Jesper Carlsen similarly explores our con¬sciousness in his work Mirror Box, 2013, which is a recording of a mirror and a hand performing various actions. The mirror reflection cheats an unconscious part of the brain into believing that the other hand is present. In all its simplicity the work is an account of a form of treatment that is used for phantom pains.
From the unconscious and mysterious we move further into a renewal of the tradition. The work The Dane, 2013 by Søren Martinsen, who is currently exhibiting at TRAPHOLT, refers motivically and compositionally to canonical works from the Golden Age and later Symbolism. The film starts off with the ‘Denmark’ of the designer and polemicist Poul Henningsen (‘PH’) from 1935 – but it is worth noting that Martinsen uses the traditional devices to turn the focus on the things that create our identity.
Niels Bonde has created a large pixel wall specifically for the exhibition. On it fragments of various well publicized films are projected – such as Paris Hilton’s porno film, Cho’s confession to the violent mass¬acre at a high school in the USA, and other snippets from Youtube films accessible to the public. The films revolve around the theme ‘images as currency’ and form part of the history of mass-mediated works.
The last work to be mentioned is the Swedish video artist Lisa Strömbeck’s highly topical work Animals do it : RECYCLE, 2012, which is shown in a two-metre wide projection. On a forest path lies a large heap of garbage – tin cans, milk cartons and plastic containers. In comes a dog which carefully begins to sort the waste. The work has been created to inspire recycling.
The exhibition VIDEO is being shown on the premises of Martin Asbæk Gallery and Galerie Asbæk at Bredgade 23. Welcome to the opening on Thursday 7 February 2013, 17:00 – 22:00. The films nomi¬nated for this year’s FOCUS video festival are being shown at the same time at Nikolaj Kunsthal 17:00 – 22.00.