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Vestlandsutstillingen: Where have we been?

Art exhibition on display at The Art Centre Kabuso January 14 - February 12 2017:

 

does anybody know
which direction it is,
how far is left,
or where we have been?*

Vestlandsutstillingen is committed to the representation of artists and artworks specific to the Western region of Norway. However, the concerns and critiques presented within this exhibition are universal. Although each artwork included here is unique in its conceptual creation and subtleties, themes of ecology and human behavior run throughout the works. The current anthropocene period is an aged marked primarily by human activity and its subsequent effect on the planet - climate change, weather extremes, ozone depletion, steadily decreasing polar ice caps, and an exponential decline in flora and fauna species. In the midst of the ongoing environmental crisis, the artworks included in Where have we been? offer reflections on human interactions with our environment; past, present, and possible future.

The title, taken (directly) from an artwork by Aud Marit Skarrebo Holmen, serves as an entry point to the exhibition by simply posing the question, where have humans been in recent years, both physically and psychologically? Has humanity's short-sighted thinking and denial led to the present crisis? Is the absence of humanity a future scenario? Where are we going from here? And perhaps more importantly, what are we leaving behind? With over six nationalities represented in the 95th version of VU, the offered perspectives are many.

Artworks by Per Tore Barmen and Petra Dalström poetically portray both the fragility and resilience of nature through deftly sculpted wood and porcelain. Though cut and charred, the organic materials retain their sense of integrity. In critical and mesmerizing installations Else Karin Tysse Bysheim and Vania Cunha, tools of industry and capitalism such as rubber tubing and plastic typing keys are shown rendered useless in piles and knots, refuse and waste unfit for any future function.

Though slightly humorous, Susanne Christensen's photos are a sad homage to endangered species, ironically both destroyed and preserved by humans. Meanwhile, dreamlike animations by Simone Hooymans offer lush, pristine environments where time passes untouched by human intervention. A witty collage by Simon Kjær suggests the petrification of human forms, human relationships, even human emotion.

Abandoned, forgotten buildings and abodes take the center stage in artworks by Kristina Kvalvik, Rune Werner Molnes and Anne Helen Robberstad, still echoing with the memories of past habitation, and leaving viewers to wonder when they have been left, and why, and where the people have gone.

Karen Helga Maurstig's handmade book records words for snow and ice in various Norwegian dialects, interspersed with the artist's own drawings and imagery, serving as a meditation on a landscape of snow and ice that is rapidly disappearing. In a work by Kirsti Prøis, tangled strands of neon plastic and straw become one, inseparable mass. Sculptures by David A. Rios present sound waves milled into wood, echoing the use of sound waves as an indication of the presence or absence of human activity. And a new work by Ingrid Toogood presents an abstracted representation of reality through a mirroring and enlargement of painted images.

There are hopeful notes as well. In a work by Daniel Persson, a dragon fruit vine determinably creeps up and over a crumbling concrete and barbed-wire wall. The sculpture Next Nature by Nina Skarsbø suggests a complete departure from nature on the part of humans, and a creation of human kind's own version of nature, one that springs from genetic engineering, computer viruses, and other organic technologies.
Where has the human gone? And what have we left behind us?


Jury for VU17: Terese Longva, Joakim Lund, Heather Jones, Astrid Wittersø.


*Aud Marit Skarrebo Holmen

Additional pictures

  • 2017 - Christensen
  • 2017 - Robberstad
  • 2017 - Toogood