/ˈpalɪm(p)sɛst/

02.06. - 27.07.2018
OPENING 01.06.2018 5-8PM

FOS’ artistic practice is characterized by a fascination for creating social scenarios in the meeting between room, object and viewer. His work has through-out time circled around and questioned what constitutes a sociality and his explorations with language. Most recently the relationship between speed and our image of the future have marked the practice. This focus was visualized in the latest exhibition Ayrton at Museo Tamayo in Mexico City in 2017, where a membrane of textile accelerated like a timeline through the space. FOS uses his objects as a tool to create a functional frame. He leads us on a journey through a set of frames, where the material is processed and continues becoming an object or a language that we in connection with one-another, create a relationship around. In particular the exhibition One Language Traveller at the National Gallery in Copenhagen in 2011 was an example of this. Here FOS brought us on a one-language journey, through objects in a paradox universe. FOS challenges and encourages us to be curious and seduces us with his total installations. This was also the case in the installation Osloo – a boat with an intensive performance program created in 2011 for the Venice Biennale. 

Another thematic in FOS’ practice is an investigative approach to the question of what creates a common memory, as experienced at the solo exhibition PortholeKoøje – at Kunsthal Charlottenborg in 2016. Lately the relationship between our inner psychology and the outer shell of what architecture consists of has been explored in the permanent watchtower The Interior of Inés in Aalborg, Denmark in 2017.  

With this perspective, we look forward to FOS’ upcoming first solo exhibition at Nils Stærk, where FOS will take on an architectural approach by creating lines that define space and create a direction, while the shell of the body, object and space will be challenged to a place where the nerve and tantalizing tactility play an important role. 

WE HAVE BEEN CALLED MANY NAMES

04.11. - 16.12.2017
PREVIEW 03.11.2017

Nils Stærk is proud to present Runo Lagomarsino's solo exhibition We have been called many names. The exhibition is Lagomarsino's third solo presentation in the gallery. On occasion of the exhibition PhD candidate at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Katarina Stenbeck has written an essay on Lagomarsino's practice.
 
A Language of Inversion

Katarina Stenbeck

Capitalism was the first system to make the regimentation and mechanization of the body a key premise of the accumulation of wealth. Indeed, from its beginning to the present, one of capitalism’s main social tasks has been the transformation of our energies and corporeal powers into labour power.
Silvia Federici

Scattered around the gallery space are 28 plaster casts of the insides of hats, placed on simple wooden constructions so they form a group and become a formation of kinds of bodiless figures. The casts are all different as a result of the variety of hats they are made from and the tactility of the plaster surfaces tell stories about the specific types of hats, their material, age and how they have been used. Even slight traces of the person wearing the hat can be read in the inverted language of the cast. Runo Lagomarsino collected the hats in Los Angeles from people working as cleaners, gardeners, security personnel and other service job that remain in the margins of visibility. We have been called many names is the title Lagomarsino has given the piece as well as the exhibition. How can we understand this ‘we’?

A large piece of fabric separates the main gallery space from a smaller space. This fabric acts as a support for a black and white print of Guiseppe Pellizza da Volpedo’s monumental painting of 1901, The Fourth Estate. The painting depicts a group of workers on strike moving towards the viewer. Lagomarsino has hung the image upside down. To reverse the position of conventional representations can destabilise the way we perceive them and reveal the construction behind naturalised concepts and world views. In his drawing América Invertida (1943), Uruguayan artist Joaquín Torres-García turned the commonplace map of South America on its head, placing the Equator at the bottom and Uruguay at the centre, hereby reorganising dominant ideas of centre and periphery. A simple gesture of inversion like this, has the power to make visible that which was previously invisible.

The centre is what we, in our self-proclaimed centre, most commonly refer to as the ‘West’. Evidently, the West was not always the centre. In the Christian world Jerusalem was the centre and Europe, since it was located west of here, was merely the West. Europe only began to occupy the centre with the expansion into the Americas in the 16th century. The conquest of new land initiated the colonial system of domination and extinction and is closely linked to the advent of capitalist modernity. With this system of power, Western Europe became the point of observation and classification, it was from the West that the rest of the world was described, conceptualized and ranked.i

Indias Occidentales was the name the Spaniards gave to their newly claimed territory; other names given to the continent include America, Latin America and Anglo America. The act of assigning a name to a place, a collective or a social group is a crucial part of constructing an identity. A name also demarcates a border, a frontier for inclusion and exclusion, and the name Indias Occidentales indicates the location of America as part of the Occident, the West, yet placed at its periphery.ii

Naming the world has continued to be the privilege of the West throughout the 20th century. After World War II, the world was divided into three parts by the West with the West being the first, the communist bloc the second and the rest labelled the Third World. The implied hierarchy of this division is also implicit in the post-1989 term ‘the developing world’, which replaced the three-world system, and is used to name the nations that need to develop according to Western standards. The global South has been introduced to replace these terms, but is no less contested.

Sociologist Boaventura de Sousa Santos argues that the global South is not a geographical concept but rather a metaphor for the human suffering caused by capitalism and colonialism and we should understand that “it is a South that also exists in the geographic North, in the form of excluded, silenced and marginalised populations, such as undocumented immigrants, the unemployed, ethnic or religious minorities.”iii The historical conditions for the current economic divisions of the world into a global South and a global North are shaping the conditions for today’s marginalised labour forces in Western societies. In the global North, cheap labour is predominantly of immigrant background, which reflects the color line that also defines the global labour market. Additionally, many people working in the service sector are illegal immigrants, rendering them with no rights, no representation and to a large extent no visibility.

In Lagomarsino’s exhibition we meet the worker as a global figure, a figure whose identity is continuously transformed according to geo-political developments and the demands of capital. As the capitalist economy destroys ‘old’ industries and their workforces attracting ‘new’ workers from around the globe, the shape of work and workers changes.iv Lagomarsino employs a poetic language to portray the changing figure of the worker, one which renders abstract the specific cultural or geographical characteristics and opens up a space for considering these people beyond their identity as ‘worker’, ‘immigrants’, ‘Latinos’ or other. This way, it becomes possible for us to imagine them as individuals beyond their relation to labour and capital. A new people as in Volpedo’s painting.

In his work Lagomarsino seeks out the fractures of dominant narratives and teases out new understandings of the world. But rather than merely being an act of revealing the hidden structures of meaning, it is also a language with the power to reconfigure existing ideas and ways of conduct.

Lagomarsino has recently participated in exhibitions at institutions such as LACMA, Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Fondazione Trussadi, Milan, Moderna Museet, Malmö, The South London Gallery, Institute of Contemporary Art University Pennsylvania and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid. In 2015 he participated in All the World's Futures the 56th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia.

Runo Lagomarsino (b. 1977 Lund, Sweden) lives and works in Malmö, Sweden and São Paulo, Brazil.


i Walter Mignolo: The Idea of Latina America, 2005, pp. 35
ii Ibid pp. 34
iii Boaventura de Sousa Santos: “Epistemologies of the South and the future” in From the European South 1, 2016 pp. 18-19
iv Michael Denning: “Representing Global Labor” in Work & Culture 2006/5, pp. 13-14

UNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE

20.01. - 24.03.2018
PREVIEW 19.01.2018

Nils Stærk is proud to present Dario Escobar’s solo exhibition Uncertainty Principle. The exhibition is Escobar’s second solo presentation in the gallery. On occasion of the exhibition independent curator Isabela Villanueva has written an essay on Escobar’s practice:

“Exploring the unknown requires tolerating uncertainty” 
Brian Greene 

We live in a time where the object is standardized: all over the world we encounter objects analogous except for small local differences- which are everyday diminishing and limited to minimal particulars. Sadly the presence of what is typical of a region, and therefore foreign to the rest of the world, is being erased so we now only come across identical mass-produced objects that could have been produced in China, Brazil or anywhere else. For the last couple of decades, there has been a rapid universalization of the forms of the objects; social practices of consumption, the formation of desire and yearning of belonging are some of the reasons why mass-produced and non-distinguishable objects reign nowadays. 

This “fetishization” of the object is a concern that artists have been reflecting and working on for years: Marcel Duchamp with his Fountain, Andy Warhol with the Brillo box, Jeff Koons with the New Hoover Convertibles and Gabriel Orozco with La DS amongst many other examples. Dario Escobar, one of Central America’s most pivotal artists, continues with this tradition; his oeuvre however goes further than just promoting industrialized objects into works of art, one of his focuses is pondering how mass-production has almost annihilated local artisanry or regionalistic styles in objects, so in his artworks he merges both in an effort to redefine the limits between what is highbrow and what is popular. 

Escobar is deeply knowledgeable about his country’s art historical legacy; he spends much of his time researching and studying archeological treasures from pre-Columbian times, visiting local crafts markets and admiring Baroque buildings and its decorations. The artist tends to travel throughout Guatemala and Mexico in order to revere, chronicle and mentally preserve the presence of what can be perceived as ‘foreign’ in this uniform globalized world we now live in. This is why certain local forms, colours and styles always permeate into his oeuvre; he seeks to preserve several thousands of years of Olmec, Mayan or Teotihuacan, and other pre-hispanic civilizations’ motifs and styles and merge them alongside universalized objects. 

For over two decades Escobar has been producing a steady body of work that challenges the viewer to review mass-produced objects; their traditional uses are overturned so new uses and meanings can arise. At first glance his sculptures may appear to be common everyday, readymade objects; however, closer examination reveals the inclusion of detail-oriented craftsmanship, as well as an exploration of forms, surfaces  and areas. 

Uncertainty Principle is the artist’s second exhibition at Nils Stærk, the title refers to a constant that appears in all artworks presented: a lively and playful investigation on the unpredictable character of forms and lines, and an exploration of how balance can be achieved.  The show features several sculptures made by the Guatemalan artist during the last months of 2017; all of them are made from objects used regularly for leisure activities. The pivotal concerns of Escobar’s work, such as conflating the aesthetics of hand-crafted and labor-intensive objects with those of mass-production, as well as a constant dialogue with certain imposed art historical canons, are keenly expressed in the works exhibited. 

Without a doubt the most imposing sculptures of the show are the ones belonging to the Red Star series: works in which  basketball hoops struggle to find equilibrium.  Red Star # 4 greets audience members as they walk into the gallery; stability is a clear concern and one can perceive the precariousness between the single hoop and the conjoined immense wooden rectangle that is leaning against the corner of the room. 

This contortion and fickleness of forms is a constant throughout the exhibition, it can be seen in wooden slabs where traditional guitar rosettes dance and snake around the surface, and in chessboard patterns that flap and move in and out of framed  wooden squares. Having trained as an architect Escobar is always aware of spacing and of stability; as can be noted in Untitled in which a group of Pepsi bottles are upholding planks, it’s interesting to perceive how the small, delicate and fragile materials (glass bottles) are the ones actually doing the supporting and the heavy lifting. This work also contains a clear commentary on consumerism and how American culture has permeated and is dominating the world.

There are many art historical allusions in the works presented in Uncertainty Principle: the three-dimensional sculptures follow the purified forms of Minimalist sculptures, yet question how Guatemala has become a minion of the United States for modern and contemporary art canons even when Central America has a richer history and have been producing art for the last 7 thousand years. Art as a big chess game is a clear nod to Marcel Duchamp, but by orchestrating movement in the checkered tiles Escobar creates a visual paradox and an endless imaginary trajectory of space. 

All the artworks contain delicate woodwork, as well as elements and references from Guatemala, Mexico and their rich cultural legacy. There are throughout the show many readings or afterthoughts, but formally and aesthetically there is always order, simplicity and harmony. 

Text by Isabela Villanueva

Isabela Villanueva is an art historian and independent curator based in the United States. She worked several years at the Americas Society Art Gallery and was part of the curatorial team of the 30th São Paulo Biennial.

 

FENCE STUDIES / WORDLESS

26.08. - 21.10.2017
PREVIEW 25.08.2017

Nils Stærk is proud to present Torbjørn Rødland's fifth solo show at the gallery since 2001. 

The exhibition comprises two distinct series. Fence Studies is a series of six small works, while Wordless consists of five larger photographs, each showing a human head held by a pair of older hands. The relationships between the persons touching and the persons touched are unclear. 

The people in Wordless are backlit, creating glowing silhouettes, separating the subject from the background and inducing a sense of impending transformation. Equally characteristic of Rødland's photography as the lighting is the tactile combination of surfaces. Viewed against younger faces, the hands become landscapes of skin, sinews, liver spots and wrinkles.

In Fence Studies, different materials are likewise experienced through their combination. A section of fence connects with a striped canvas bag and flowers; a thicket and a pile of blocks and bricks.

The internal tensions of the works are heightened by the relationships between individual photographs. Plasticity and unity are recurrent themes in Rødland's work. The bizarre pliability of the world and of the medium of photography can also be said to be at the heart of this exhibition. 

In recent years, Rødland's work has notably been shown at the Henie-Onstad Art Center in Oslo, Manifesta 11 in Zurich and the 9th Berlin Biennale. He was included in the Whitney Museum of American Art's series of public installations in New York, and his photograph Baby was on the cover of the September 2015 issue of Artforum. This fall, Rødland will have solo shows at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London (29 Sept.) and at C/O Berlin (9 Dec.).

Torbjørn Rødland (b. 1970, Norway) lives and works in Los Angeles.