Ellinor Aurora Aasgaard & Zayne Armstrong
Photography From 15.10.2020 To 29.11.2020

In collaboration with 333 Boyz, Alaa Abdullatif, Andrea Birmingham, Jens Bluemlein, Lene Berg, Ulrike Buck, Julie Chance, Beth Collar, Juan Carlos Cuadrado, Marcel Dadalto, Murat Dikenci, Seán Gallen, Ashton C. Green, JP Horstmann, Ana Kavalis, Bob Kil, Meri Koivisto, Nicholas Korody, Marie Noël, Ottokar Lehrner, Fan Popo, Elizabeth Ravn, Zain Saleh, Robin Schick, Elena Schmidt, Ruth Rosenfeld and Kotti Yun.

I am a quick learner, adaptable, motivated, self-assured, I put my heart into everything I do, Im trustworthy, I work overtime, Im single, I will never have kids, and getting any gig would be my biggest dream.

Cashflow, career aspirations, ‘horror’-scopes and class structures are just some of the ingredients in the multipart pilot of the collaborative ‘soap opera’ Days, premiering this fall at Fotogalleriet. Through a multi-channel video installation, which re-stages the sets from the shoot, the exhibition explores how the supposed ‘low-culture’ of day-time drama TV, can reflect upon the cultural production of the art institution.

In opposition to the history of soap operas, produced by soap companies to sell products to a captive audience of ‘housewives’, Days is produced by and represents the not-so-visible and quickly growing precariat:* a relatively new social class drawn together by the false promises of neoliberalism. Days asks how soap series could produce solidarity and social habitus. Can the broad social engagement of the soap opera, be transferred to the art institution, in order to create a sense of community for this diffuse class of the precariat?

Days‘ characters struggle with the absurd everyday issues of financial instability in the rapidly changing city of Berlin. We follow their emotional and moral conflicts, as they juggle poorly paid jobs, which they are overqualified for, at a bar, a hostel, an art gallery and a tech start up; they try to get by in a world concerned with maximum growth and efficiency.

In the new work, Aasgaard and Armstrong combine the flat, low-budget aesthetic of soap opera with ‘magical realism’, to mirror the potential absurdity of both the genre and society in general. Using the medium of scripted fictional stories to intersect with real lives, the project creates a number of intersecting communities: the on-screen community of the characters, that of the members of the production team, and the audience of Berliners and an international community whose lives are populated with similar concerns of how to pay rent next month. Through these communities, the work engages a conversation about how social, political and cultural contexts affect the on-the-ground experiences of those whose lives depend on immaterial, emotional and abstract labour.

* The artists refer to the term precariate as used by Guy Standing in the book The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class in 2011, to refer to a group of people with varied social and educational backgrounds who are required to perform free labour in order to secure even a menial income.

Ellinor Aurora Aasgaard (born 1991 in Kristiansand, Norway) received her BFA from the Malmö Art Academy (Sweden) in 2012. Aagaard’s installations are caught in between form and function, art and design, discourse and disgust. She reacts to the intrinsic structures of the art world, of socialization, distribution and value creation. With the artist Bror Sander Berg Størseth, Aasgaard worked as a duo under the name Aurora Sander. Their work has been exhibited at several national and international institutions, including: UKS (Norway), Passerelle Centre d’art contemporain (France), La Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (Italy), 7th International Moscow Biennial (the Russian Federation), Yamamoto Gendai (Japan), Overgaden Institute of Contemporary Art (Denmark), Nicolai Wallner (Denmark) and Sandy Brown (Germany). Aasgaard has been a guest lecturer at Prosjektskolen in Oslo and UdK in Berlin. She’s currently preparing a solo exhibition at Bærum Kunsthall, as well as group exhibitions at Kinderhook & Caracas (Germany), the opening exhibition of the new National Gallery, Vestfossen Kunstlaboratorium and Kling & Bang (Iceland).

Zayne Armstrong is an American/British artist born in California in the 1980’s. He studied art at The New School University in New York, Central Saint Martins in London and Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam, where he developed his filmmaking practice. His writing and film work use storytelling to question the singularity of identity and authorship, often working with representations of artists and communities, and how they form, subsist, and collapse. He’s had solo shows at Seen Through, and Hermes und der Pfau (Stuttgart), NextVisit (Berlin) and recently at the Lago Mio artist residency (Lugano). He has also been a part of a number of international group exhibitions, among them at Ausstellungsraum Klingental (Basel), X-Initiative (New York City), Oracle (Berlin), Tate Modern, David Roberts Art Foundation, and Institute of Contemporary Arts (London). He was part of the virtual curatorial identity Agatha Valkyrie Ice and her Oslo10 residency (Basel); he had a production residency at THEVIEW Studio (Genova); and he was half of the artist duo S/Z, with Elliott Elliott. He’s currently preparing a short story for publication with Montez Press, London

Fotogalleriet (The Photographers’ Gallery, Oslo) is the oldest existing, and continually operating institution of its kind in the Nordic region. Principal funding comes from The Arts Council Norway; additional funding is provided by the Norwegian Photographic Fund (Nofofo); partial funding comes from the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Culture and the Oslo Municipality. 

The exhibition and soap opera DAYS has been made possible with generous support from The Art Council Norway, the Relief Fund for Visual Artists (BKH), the Fritt Ord Foundation and On&For Production and Distribution.