Why do things get in a muddle?
Why Do Things Get in a Muddle? is an exhibition that deals with different aspects of language and story-telling, reflecting on how the power of language, but also its potential lack thereof has a consequence for our lives and the society at large.
The exhibition’s title refers to a work by video art pioneer Gary Hill that is also shown in the exhibition. It refers to Gregory Bateson’s book entitled Steps to an Ecology of Mind, which contains several “conversations” or “metalogues”, of which Why Do Things Get in a Muddle? is one of them. Bateson’s “metalogues” are built up in the form of a dialogue between the author and his daughter. Similarly, Gary Hill’s video work makes use of this technique, with a father and daughter discussing the use and meaning of language. The conversation in the video highlights how language, or rather how what is signified through language is perceived differently dependent on social, cultural or political background. In a contemporary context, this discussion is ever more relevant: Language not only determines one’s own identity, but its use is also occupied by a set of ideologies.
The four-channel video work Drifting by Hanne Nielsen & Birgit Johnsen takes its point of departure in a true story: the tale of a man who drifts around on a raft in international waters. No one knows who he is, and he himself refuses to say where he comes from or how he ended up on the raft. The authorities do not know what to do about him. And the story leads to innumerable speculations and guesses from the media. The installation mixes several stories about the man in a multi-voiced narrative that explores questions of identity, nationality and belonging. Drifting particularly carves out how the connection between “lack of power” equals “lack of speech” and vice versa, as well as how these result in different interpretations of language and the reading of symbols.
Ingrid Eggen’s photographic work Knegang investigates human non-verbal communication and symbolism through the body, focusing on actions taken in affect, thus without having been carefully laid out. The photographs show singular persons acting out a symbolic gesture, while the observer is never fully sure what this gesture symbolizes. Knegang exemplifies how symbols can be interpreted and how they can vary according to cultural or socio-political context. The work also points out how symbols are used as a means of communication and as a visual counterpart to language.
Una Hunderi examines important aspects of language in her project Playing Orphans in the Wood. Built up as a photo-documentation, the project examines and documents various families that have decided to “home-school” or “un-school” their children. This practice is said to have its beginnings in the 1970s, when the term “un-schooling” was coined to describe an educational method and philosophy advocating learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. For the project Hunderi visited families in which the parents have decided to take over the education of their children and teach them according to their own learning aspirations. Of particular interest is here how this pedagogic strategy is used as a means to denounce established social structures that in their point of view advocate increased consumption, competition and an inhumane working culture – and at the same time manages to shape a sense of community, identity and social belonging. Thus Playing Orphans in the Wood makes visible the connection between language, learning and knowledge and how this has consequences both for the shaping of a given and future society.
Gary Hill (b. 1951, Santa Monica, CA) has worked with a broad range of media—including sculpture, sound, video, installation and performance—since the early 1970s. His long-time collaboration with intermedia continues to explore an array of issues ranging from the physicality of language, synaesthesia and perceptual conundrums to ontological space and viewer interactivity.
Exhibitions of his work have been presented at museums and institutions worldwide, including solo exhibitions at the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, Paris; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Guggenheim Museum SoHo, New York; the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, Washington; Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel; Museu d’Art Contemporani, Barcelona; and Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg; Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles; MIS – Museu da Imagem e do Som, São Paulo, Brazil; Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; and Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, Israel. Commissioned projects include works for the Science Museum in London and the Seattle Central Public Library in Seattle, Washington, and an installation and performance work for the Coliseum and Temple of Venus in Rome, Italy. Hill has received multiple fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller and Guggenheim Foundations, and has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, most notably the Leone d’Oro Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale (1995), a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Award (1998), the Kurt-Schwitters-Preis (2000), and honorary degrees from the Academy of Fine Arts Poznan, Poland (2005) and Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle (2011). He was recently awarded the Genius Award in Film by The Stranger, Seattle 2011. Recent projects include directing Beethoven’s opera Fidelio which premiered at the Lyon Opera House and Feedback Path, a monumental multi projection installation in the Grotte du Mas D’Azil, France.
More information: www.garyhill.com
Ingrid Eggen graduated from The Oslo National Academy of the Arts in 2006. Selected solo exhibitions include Kneganger, Galleri Galleberg, Tønsberg (2016), FORHØST in collaboration with Admir Batlak, Galleri 1857, Oslo (2015), putte ord i munnen (with Stine Wexelsen Goksøyr), Rake, Trondheim (2014) and Folde t, Galleri Holodech, Oslo (2013). Participations in group exhibitions include Sakte Bilder, Lillehammer Kunstmuseum, Lillehammer (2016), Vårsalong, Galleri TM51, Oslo (2016), Island Fever, Galleri Gamle Ormelet, Tjøme (2015) and The Annual National exhibition of visual arts, Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo (2013/12/11/10). Upcoming shows include Galleri Ulterior, New York (2016), Akershus Kunstsenter (2017) and Melk, Oslo (2017).
More information: www.ingrideggen.no
Una Hunderi (b. 1971 Wellington, NZ) graduated with an MA in Film and TV Studies from ISSH, University of Amsterdam in 2002 and an MA and BA in Photography from The Norwegian College of Art and Design in Bergen (Kunsthøyskolen i Bergen) in 1998/1995. Selected solo exhibitions include The Ideal State, Akershus Kunstsenter (2014), Happy End of the World, Nosbaum & Reding, Art Contemporain, Luxembourg (2008), Sun City, Gallery Brandstrup, Oslo (2005) and Tonga 2000, Tromsø Kunstforening, Tromsø (2003). Participations in group exhibitions include Voies Off Arles, Arles (2012), The Romantic Landscape, – revised, Gallery F15, Moss (2009), Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, Aachen (2008), SECOND_NATURE, Dexia Banque Internationale, Luxembourg and Centre d’art Chamarande, France (2008) and OPHELIA’s WORLD, AR\GE Kunst, Bolzano (2007).
More information: www.unaline.no
Hanne Nielsen & Birgit Johnsen
Hanne Nielsen (b. 1959 Aarhus) & Birgit Johnsen (b. 1958 Horsens, DK) (based in Aarhus) graduated from the The Art Academy of Jutland, Aarhus in 1991 and work together with video, documentary and installations since 1993.
Selected solo exhibitions took place at The Laźnia Centre for Contemporary Art, Gdańsk (2015), Inclusion / Exclusion, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus (2014), Fotografisk Center / Nikolaj Kunsthall, Copenhagen (2014), Double Perception, Kunsthallen Brandts, Odense (2010) and The Living Art Museum, Reykjavik (2003). Selected screenings and participations in group exhibitions include No Man is an Island –The Satanic Verses, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum (2016-18), EVERYDAY IMAGES – Video Art in various dimensions, Randers Art Museum, Randers, DK (2016), Photovisa, IV International Festival of Photography, Krasnodar, Russia (2012), 23 rd. Nordisk Panorama, 5 Cities Film Festival, Oulu (2012) and ID-entify Yourself, Notch09, Beijing (2009).
More information: www.videoraum.dk