Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Christian Marclay, "The Clock"

Christian Marclay, "The Clock", 2010. Photo from jockohomo.

Christian Marclay's 24 hour film work titled "The Clock" has been hailed as one of few good reasons to go see this year's Venice Biennale. It has earned Marclay the Golden Lion Award for the best artist in the Biennale, and it has generated a lot of interest in other venues where it has been shown. At times there were long lines of people on the street waiting to get in to see it when it was shown at the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York this winter (see Jerry Saltz's review about not standing the wait in cold weather, and Ben Davis about not getting in at all).


Christian Marclay, "The Clock", 2010. Photo from ARTINFO.

Most critics are stunned by the giant proportions of this work. Apparently, it has taken Marclay two years and the help of six full time assistants to piece together thousands of film clips that add up to 24 hours of footage. When the film is shown in galleries, it is synchronized with actual time, so that "film time" becomes "real time".


Christian Marclay, "The Clock", 2010.
Photo from MODERN ART NOTES.

So far, I have just seen one unfavourable review of "The Clock".  - Tyler Green at MODERN ART NOTES: "The Clock’s facileness renders explicable the crowds that flocked to Paula Cooper Gallery for the work. Contemporary art is in the throes of a salon moment, a moment during which once-difficult conceptual work is watered down enough to be accessible for the art market and its hangers-on."




By watching the video clip from BBC above, or the excerpt from the film itself below, it may be possible to judge whether Tyler Green is right when he says that the concept of "The Clock" is just too easily accessible. - Or whether Christian Marclay's work is a rare example of complexity made beautifully simple, - to give a unique experience of time, that very precious commodity that we tend to take for granted and at the same time constantly are conscious of.




Since I have not had a chance to see "The Clock" "live", I was happy to discover these YouTube clips. They give a certain impression of what the work is about. But flicking through YouTube, watching a little here and a little there while wondering if I really have time to be surfing around, that makes it quite clear that a crucial part of experiencing "The Clock" in a gallery setting must be the decision one has made to sit down quietly in the dark for an extended period of time. - To just stay there and watch, without doing anything else, and thus become aware of each precious moment.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Holmsbu Painters


Oluf Wold-Torne, "Landscape from Holmsbu", 1911. Photo from DigitaltMuseum.

I'll stretch my summer by looking at paintings from Holmsbu in Eastern Norway. The one above was painted by Oluf Wold-Torne in the summer of 1911, the first of many summers when he and other artists came to Holmsbu to work.

By blurring out details from the foreground and simplifying the foliage and shrubs, Wold-Torne leads our attention towards the hill and mountains on the other side of the fjord. Horizontal lines create a calm sensation, and the central stretch of water is framed by trees on the right and sailboats on the left. A large portion of the painting is blue sky which is hazy enough to render that feeling of summer comfort and reverie that I so much want to hold on to now that fall is approaching.


Thorvald Erichsen, "Fra Holmsbu", 1931. Photo from Gwpa.

In this painting by Thorvald Erichsen some of the pink rock that is such a characteristic feature of the Holmsbu area, can be seen bathing in the evening light across the fjord.


Photo from Drammens Museum.


A gallery that houses works by Oluf Wold-Torne, Thorvald Erichsen and Henrik Sørensen (who are considered the three most central Holmsbu Painters) has been built in the woods that stretch inland from the fjord. It is clad in the local pink granite, and it lies well camouflaged on top of a steep trail.


Photo from Drammens Museum.


Holmsbu Billedgalleri, 1963-73, architect: Bjart Mohr. Photo from essential events.

At the back of the building a large window lets the untouched landscape become an important part of the total aesthetic experience that includes architecture, landscape and paintings, among which some depict the same landscape as one can see through the window (like the one below).



Henrik Sørensen, "Trollura i Jahrskogen", 1933. Photo from Drammens Museum.



Thursday, June 30, 2011

Elmgreen & Dragset, "The One & The Many"

Elmgreen & Dragset, "The One & The Many", 2011. Photo from culture and life.

I like artworks that demand participationSettings that I become a part of or works that are only realized if I engage myself in them.

I very much enjoy showing "Boy Scout" (2008) to kids that visit Bergen Art Museum, where I work as a Museum Lecturer.

And there are several works by Elmgreen & Dragset that I wish that I had had a chance to see: "Just a Single Wrong Move" (2004), "Prada Marfa" (2005), and "The Collectors" (2009).

So I think that I will just have to go to Rotterdam to experience "The One & The Many" before it closes on September 25.

Elmgreen & Dragset, "The One & The Many", 2011. Photo from culture and life.

Then I believe I will have to go by boat to an old submarine wharf, where I will walk down a spooky "subway" tunnel that will take me to a ghetto-like city scape inhabited by people that I would not feel safe to encounter in real life.


Elmgreen & Dragset, "The One & The Many", 2011. Photo from culture and life.

I will go for a ride on the Ferris wheel and peek through the windows to see what the tenants in the apartment building are up to, and if possible, I will enter the building to take a closer look.

According to Sjarel Ex, who presents "The One & The Many" in the following video, I will get so engaged in the stories that are played out in the work, that I will continue thinking about the people I have encountered long after I have left the place.




In this next video, Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset talk about "The One & The Many" and another work they will have going for the next year in front of the Rotterdam City Hall: "It's Never Too Late To Say Sorry".




Monday, June 6, 2011

Christoph Marthaler, "plus minus zero"


Christoph Marthaler, "plus minus zero". Photo from der neue Merker.

This year's Bergen International Festival is nearing its end, and I have not had time to see by far as many shows as I would have wanted to. But last night I went to a performance that was presented as theatre: Christoph Marthaler's "plus minus zero". What a lucky choice! - Though maybe not a very likely one, since I had read an unfavorable review in Bergens Tidende the same morning. Too bad that paper sends a theatre critic to review a work like this, and not an art critic. Because complaining about lack of storyline and coherence seems to me completely beside the point as long as Marthaler communicates precisely through his break with theatre convention.


Christoph Marthaler, "plus minus zero". Photo from NCF.

The seemingly incoherent mix of scenography viewed as installation art; choir music performed in human tableaux;  text presented in different languages, and thus enhanced, sometimes like poetry; simple movement repeated in dancelike patterns; Inuit stories told without translation (but with clues given through body language); the slowness, stillness and meditation; - it all suggests notions of a world view so different from western rationale that we simply cannot understand it through linear, analytic communication.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Trine Mauritz Eriksen, "Moderato Cantabile"


I went to Svalbard for 10 days this Easter. It was my first time there, and I had expected to see spectacular landscape and beautiful light. But I had not been able to imagine just how intense and different the arctic light would be, and I was surprised by the calm, cloister-like feeling I got from moving around in the wide, white expanse.



With no trees and simple, consistent lines, the Svalbard landscape reminded me of the hills in New Mexico, the way  Georgia O'Keeffe painted them.


Kåre Tveter, "Innover breene". Photo from artnet.

One evening, as I sat in a cabin looking across the ice covered fjord at very light blue mountains that were barely discernible from the late night (but light!) evening sky, it struck me how difficult it must be to convey such simple beauty in painting. I know that many artists have tried, and I saw quite a few attempts in Longyearbyen, but most often I thought the result became too sweet and cliché. 




However, in the departure hall in Longyearbyen Airport, a three part work by Trine Mauritz Eriksen sums up the arctic light and landscape very well. It is titled "Moderato Cantabile", a musical term that I think covers a similar feeling to that calm, almost meditative mood I mentioned above.


Trine Mauritz Eriksen, "Moderato Cantible", Svalbard Airport, Photo: Birger Amundsen.



Trine Mauritz Eriksen, "Moderato Cantible", Svalbard Airport, Photo: Birger Amundsen.


Having experienced some grey days during my stay, and knowing that winter in the Arctic is completely dark, save the Northern Lights, I very much enjoyed the play of light and subtle colors in her non-figurative interpretation, made from twisted strips of colored wool.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Kurt Jonannessen and Jørgen Knudsen, "Blu 5"

Kurt Johannessen and Jørgen Knudsen, "Blu 5", 1995.

Again I want to show something I saw a long time ago. "Blu 5" by Kurt Johannessen and Jørgen Knudsen has stuck with me for more than a decade (like this and this and several other works that I have labelled "general").

I do not remember the whole succession of "Blu 5". In fact, I do not remember much of it at all: Very little of the sound and only one image stands out clearly. But I do remember the feeling of anticipation as I stood together with other people along the wall in Bergen Kunsthall waiting to see what would happen.

And I remember my awareness of Kurt Johannessen's presence and his slow movements, mixed with an uneasy consciousness of my own presence in the room.


Kurt Johannessen and Jørgen Knudsen, "Blu 5", 1995.


There was a film projector towards which Kurt Johannessen moved very slowly, with arms lifted out to the sides and no shirt on. Then, when he had finally reached the focus point of the projected image, butterflies emerged on his stomach. And he let them flutter.

This is such a simple concept, verging on a cliché. The solution to that slightly tense uncertainty about what the performance would evolve into was an illustration of that very feeling: Butterflies in the stomach.

Kurt Johannessen has produced many books with short instructions - "Exercises" - that are suggestions for actions so simple that one may at first scuff at them, before one realizes that they may carry great poetic potential.

"Blu 5" and the land art piece I presented about a week ago have a similar quality. They are simple and grounded by very literal references. In "Blu 5" a metaphor collapses into a literal image, and thus it becomes poetry.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Kurt Johannessen, "Steinen" ("The Rock")

Kurt Johannessen, "Steinen" ("The Rock"), 2008. Photo by Unni Seim Eidsnes, from zeth.

Hiking the barren landscape 85 kilometers northeast of Bergen, 900 meters above sea level, one may come across a gilded rock. Among many rocks of similar size and shape, this single one has received a coat of gold as a token of gratitude from the artist Kurt Johannessen.

He has turned one rock into a piece of art, and indirectly, the surrounding rocks and landscape become parts of the work. The gilded rock (art) and the other rocks (nature) mutually define each other, but it is hard to tell exactly where the piece ends. - How much of the landscape becomes part of it?


Kurt Johannessen, "Steinen" ("The Rock"), 2008. Photo by Unni Seim Eidsnes, from zeth.

I have hiked mountains close to this one, but I have never seen "The Rock". Now that I know it is there, I will seek it out some time this summer. But then my experience will lack the element of surprise that I would have felt if I had bumped into it unwittingly. - How great that must be:

- To imagine that the gold is solid (what a treasure!), but then also to know that "The Rock" belongs where it is.
- To walk along enjoying the beautiful scenery and then suddenly be confronted by ART, - a different kind of beauty.

***
Dag Sveen has written an interesting text about "The Rock" (in Norwegian), from which I have borrowed.
And on Kurt Johannessen's home page the gilding process is documented, and there are directions to the site.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Two more Kabakov installations

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, "The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away
(The Garbage Man)", 1988. Photo from artnet.

"The Garbage Man (The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away)"

Unlike the Kabakov installation I showed on Tuesday, this one can be entered. Three rooms that allude a kommunalka are filled with junk that has been collected by the imaginary owner of the apartment. Everything is neatly labelled and organized on tables, in cabinets, and on charts that cover the walls.

What would otherwise be considered waste is turned into art that can make us reflect on just how much junk we leave behind. And the stuffiness and dusty feeling underneath naked light bulbs becomes a nightmare where we never get rid of all that junk.

Or...
We become touched by the love this person has put into his tedious archival work, and by the memories that can be attached to details from our own past.


Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, "Treatment with Memories", 1997. Photo from artnet.

"Treatment With Memories"

I saw this installation in the 1997 Whitney Biennial, and have thought of it many times since.

Walking through a corridor with fainted "hospital green" colored walls, I reached a barren room where simple iron beds were turned towards one projector each, showing images from the absent clients' early lives. Supposedly as treatment against dementia.

But there were no other signs of human life in the room, just an eerie notion that death had already arrived, and that the images that flickered in the light from the projectors would continue as eternal loops.

***
"The Garbage Man" can be visited at The National Museum in Oslo until January 15, 2012

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ilya Kabakov, "The Man Who Flew into Space from his Apartment"

Ilya Kabakov, "The Man Who Flew into Space from his Apartment", 1985.
Photo from Kunstkritikk.


Ilya Kabakov creates installations that tell stories from the lives of fictional characters. "The Man Who Flew into Space from his Apartment" consists of two rooms: The hallway in a communal Soviet apartment, and the room from which the story's protagonist has taken off into space through the ceiling and the roof, using the catapult he has made by attaching a seat to bed springs and rubber bands.


Ilya Kabakov, "The Man Who Flew into Space from his Apartment", 1985.
Photo from Cold War Art.


The walls in his very simple room have propaganda posters plastered all over. There are also sketches of his contraption and his expected orbit, and he has made a model of his town and apartment building, from which a metal string indicates his flight into space.


Ilya Kabakov, "The Man Who Flew into Space from his Apartment", 1985.
Photo from comixcube.


In the grimly lit hallway outside his room, yellowing pages tell the following story:

The lovely inhabitant of this room, as becomes clear from the story his neighbors tells, was obsessed by a dream of a lonely flight into space, and in all probability, he realized this dream of his, his "grand project".

The entire cosmos, according to the thoughts of the inhabitant of this room, was permeated by streams of energy leading upward somewhere. His project was conceived in an effort to hook up with these streams and fly away with them.
A catapult, hung from the corners of the room, would give this new "astronaut", who was sealed in a plastic sac, his initial velocity and further up, at a height of 40-50 meters, he would land in a stream of energy through which the Earth was passing at that moment as it moved along its orbit.
[...]
Everything takes place late at night, when all the other inhabitants of the communal apartment are sound asleep. One can imagine their horror, fright, bewilderment. The local police are summoned, an investigation begins, and the tenants search everywhere, in the yard, on the street, but he is nowhere to be found.

***
 "The Man Who Flew into Space from his Apartment" is part of the exhibition Take Me to Your Leader! at Bergen Art Museum (until May 8, 2011).

Monday, March 7, 2011

Virginia Woolf, "To the Lighthouse"

It has been a while.
Lately, I have spent more time talking about art than writing about it. - And then I drove into the snowy mountains, parked my car, went further up and away on a snowmobile, and skied for a week, far offline...

When I got back to town yesterday, there was no snow left; the pavements were dry, and there was a hint of spring in the light evening air. But when I woke up this morning, it was snowing again.

Sometimes - often in the mornings - I read random passages from To the Lighthouse, - just because Virginia Woolf wrote so beautifully. Filling myself up with her prose makes a good start to any day, and today I happened to come across this poetic description of spring:

The spring without a leaf to toss, bare and bright like a virgin fierce in her chastity, scornful in her purity, was laid out on fields wide-eyed and watchful and entirely careless of what was done or thought by the beholders. [...]

As summer neared, as the evenings lengthened, there came to the wakeful, the hopeful, walking the beach, stirring the pool, imaginations of the strangest kind - of flesh turned to atoms which drove before the wind, of stars flashing in their hearts, of cliff, sea, cloud, and sky brought purposely together to assemble outwardly the scattered parts of the vision within. In those mirrors, the minds of men, in those pools of uneasy water, in which clouds for ever turn and shadows form, dreams persisted, and it was impossible to resist the strange intimation which every gull, flower, tree, man and woman, and the white earth itself seemed to declare (but if questioned at once to withdraw) that good triumphs, happiness prevails, order rules; or to resist the extraordinary stimulus to range hither and thither in search of some absolute good, some crystal of intensity, remote from the known pleasures and familiar virtues, something alien to the processes of domestic life, single, hard, bright, like a diamond in the sand, which would render the possessor secure. Moreover, softened and acquiescent, the spring with her bees humming and gnats dancing threw her cloak about her, veiled her eyes, averted her head, and among passing shadows and flights of small rain seemed to have taken upon her a knowledge of the sorrows of mankind.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cerith Wyn Evans

Cerith Wyn Evans, "Untitled", 2010, one part of the installation S=U=P=E=R=S=T=R=U=C=T=U=R=E
("Trace me back to some loud, shallow, chill, underlying motive's overspill") Photo from Bergen Kunsthall.

I walk between trunks of light. And I unwittingly slow down my pace.
The light itself is warm and comforting - not too bright - and I notice that it changes slowly. While one trunk is almost completely dimmed, another one reaches a peak of brightness.

It is as if those poles of light make the entire room radiant with a subtle, otherworldly energy. And when I stand close, I can feel a round and friendly - I'll almost say loving - heat.

But there is also sound.
- Can sound be warm? - Can I wrap it around me like a thick - but lightweight - comforter?

The entire room oscillates. - Walls like bellows that breathe very calmly. - And a small wood of light-trunks that grow (eternally?) into the ceiling, from far below the floor.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dan Colen, "Peanuts"

Dan Colen, "Silent Treatment", gum on canvas, 2010. Photo from afmuseet.

When you Google Pictures search "Dan Colen" you get as many photos of cool art dudes partying as you do artworks he has made. That makes me apprehensive. - Like I was when I arrived at his Astrup Fearnley Museum "Peanuts" show last weekend.

And his chewing gum pictures confirmed my prejudice. They give off an air of art school adolescence, and are not very different from this painting which he has found and included in his show:


Dan Colen, "The Big Swirl", found painting, 2006.
Photo from Joshua Abelow Art Blog.

Colen and the group of art buddies he used to hang out with have been called the "Bowery School", from The Bowery in New York. For a short while in the 1990s I lived on St. Mark's place (close to The Bowery) together with aspiring artists of many different disciplines. And often I would see helpless artwork like the one above put out on the sidewalk to be chucked into a garbage truck.

What was interesting, I thought, when I saw "Silent Treatment" and "The Big Swirl" hanging next to each other in the Astrup Fearnley exhibition, was that Colen's chewing gum canvas only barely rests on the right side of the boarder towards a less than mediocre art school student's desperate attempt to come up with something original ... - Chewing gum!


Dan Colen, "Self-portrait as the wanderer
(as I pause to ponder: do real men break hearts?
I decide yes! They do. Only to later change my mind.)",
 oil on found painting, 2004. Photo from afmuseet.

There are quite a few found paintings in the show to which Colen has painted additions. - Like the one above that I show in a small version to protect under age viewers...

This hangs on a wall all by itself, and becomes quite poetic - even touching - by way of its title.


Dan Colen, "Eviction Party", flowers on canvas, 2010. Photo from afmuseet.

The flower pictures radiate a similar poetic sensibility. - Those fresh, but perishable colors smeared into an unprimed canvas ...


Dan Colen, "The Whole Enchilada", 2010. Photo from Kunstkritikk.

And even this knocked over flagpole becomes an image of general sadness and loss, rather than a political statement.

All this subtle and potent poetry finally managed to outshine Colen's insisting cool, and it proved my visit to the Astrup Fearnley Museum worth while.

With this new - more positive - attitude I was even able to find something interesting in his banal text paintings:

Dan Colen, "Holy Shit", Photo from jameswagner.

"Holy Shit" placed upside down is more interesting than "Holy Shit" placed the right way.


Dan Colen, "Holy Shit", Photo from Peres Projects.

And "Holy Shit" mirrored is more interesting than "Holy Shit" upside down.


Dan Colen, "Holy Shit" t-shirt, Photo from Urban Outfitters.

But "Holy Shit" on t-shirts from Urban Outfitters becomes far too much!
(It is this consumerism - latent in all the text paintings - that makes them annoying.)

***
(Norwegian readers should check out Kjetil Røed's excellent review of "Peanuts" at Kunstkritikk.)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tino Sehgal, "This Progress"

Photo from Kunstnernes Hus.

I was not disappointed.
My expectations were high. I came all the way from Bergen just to listen and experience. And I am happy I did.

First I listened to the talk on Friday.
About his interest in dance as an activity that does not produce material products (which he considers problematic because one cannot engage with them). Inter human communication is much more interesting, Sehgal says. And he does not want his works to be documented (to be made into material products) because one has to experience them first hand. The quality of the experience, says Sehgal, is more important than access to information about it.

When I came back to experience "This Progress" on Saturday, I understood better his aversion towards documentation. Until then, I had just read about his work and seen a few illicit photographs of it. What I had read and seen made me very interested in its conceptual aspects, but having experienced "This Progress" live, I realise that the gap between contemplating his concept intellectually and actually experiencing it is much wider than it is in the instance of object based conceptual works, like Joseph Kosuth's "One and Three Chairs":


Joseph Kosuth, "One and Three Chairs", 1965. Photo from MoMA.


Elsewhere in this blog I have stated that what I enjoy most about art is the way it can alter my perspectives. A painting, a photograph or a video can make me think, feel and understand something in a different way than a factual text can do. But that kind of interaction with a material work is very dependent on my own initiative and thus limits itself to my projections of meaning. For instance, Joseph Kosuth's "One and Three Chairs" cannot ask me questions that I myself do not think of while standing in front of it.

Tino Sehgal's "This Progress", however, can (on a very literal level) ask me questions, and that is exactly what it does.

As I entered Kunstnernes Hus on Saturday, a young girl (11 years old?) came over to me and said "This is a work by Tino Sehgal." Thinking about it now, that statement itself induces many questions: What is the work? Is it you? Is it you talking to me? Is it me answering you? Well, I did not think about all this then, because I had to focus on the question she actually asked me: "What is progress?"

From there on, the piece could have taken many directions. I could have decided that this was not something I wanted to take part in, or I could have given a nonsensical answer and thus sabotaged (?) the intention behind the work, but either way I would have already become a part of it.

Nice and clever as I want to be, I tried my best to give as good an answer as possible using terms that I thought the young girl would understand. And strolling through one of the downstairs galleries at Kunstnernes Hus with this sympathetic young girl was very enjoyable, even though I was slightly distracted by self-conscious thoughts about being partially responsible for the execution of the work ...

But I warmed up quickly enough, and really got going when I was handed over to a young man (around 20) who asked me how I have experienced progress in my own life. He took me up the back stairs to one of the second floor galleries, and there I was handed over again, to a woman (around 40) who listened patiently to a couple of stories I told her as an answer to her statement that people should not keep cats or dogs as pets ... By the time I had to leave (the man (around 60) who was the last one I talked to was told by Sehgal that he had to go talk to somebody else), I had really taken advantage of the chance to just ramble on ...

When it was over, I sat down for some lunch to digest the experience.
I thought about the interpreters (the people who talked to me): How demanding it must be to stay present and attentive towards so many different people throughout the day! Do they consider the conversations rewarding or just hard work? How much are the conversations really worth as constructive interaction, and how much are they "tainted" by the excitement inherent in the situation (the thought of being a piece of art ...)?

Well, while I was sitting there in the ground floor restaurant looking out at the beautiful winter sun on the trees and snow across the street, I nourished a very good feeling: I was moved by the interaction itself, - the simple beauty of meeting four people I newer knew, in a setting that in its strict limitations became liberating. When else do I get to talk to complete strangers about important matters without having to wonder about their agenda, the impression they have of me, etc.?

I was tempted to go again, to try once more. But I decided I had had my chance, and I was afraid the experience might be watered down a second time. It would perhaps have been interesting, though, to see what would be different if other "interpreters" had taken me around, or if I had come on a day that was not the busy opening day. (Jerry Saltz did five rounds of "This Progress" at the Guggenheim and managed to make the artwork cry ...)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Dan Perjovschi, "WHAT HAPPENED TO US?"

Photo from THE L MAGAZINE


Another MoMA project.
The one I showed the other day was number 50. This one was number 85, and it was up on the tall white wall in MoMA's lofty atrium during the summer of 2007.

Dan Perjovschi had drawn his cartoons directly on the wall (see video below), and they were printed in this newspaper, of which everybody was free to take a copy. - So of course I did :-)

And since then, I have used it as an introduction to US politics in all the English classes I have taught. I think the image above forms a particularly useful starting point for looking into US politics and for taking a look at how the US perceives the rest of the world...

The images below are political on a more general (and a more or less personal) level.


Photo from artnet



Photo from Colectivo BolaExtra



Photo from pointofview



Photo from PAVILION



video

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tom Friedman

Tom Friedman, "Untitled", 1990. A partially used bar of soap inlaid with a spiral of pubic hair. Photo from Satchi Gallery.

Getting back to a method I have used before:
I scan my memory for art that I have seen a long time ago. The works that I still remember have made a strong and lasting impression. - Maybe that means that they are particularly interesting, and that you will enjoy seeing them here?

I saw Tom Friedman's sculptural work in the project room at the Museum of Modern Art in 1995, and this bar of soap was the one that fascinated me the most.

- Such a mundane object aesthetiziced by a neatly constructed spiral of pubic hair. - One of the least pleasant encounters you may have in daily life - somebody else's hair on a bar of soap - is turned into enjoyment of a beautiful little sculpture...

- Or does your gut reaction overrule the aesthetic potential?

- Can you see how there seem to be different shades of color in the hair, and how the narrowing spiral on the bar of soap creates an illusion that draws your gaze to the very core of it?

- And what about the white soap as symbol of "the pure", whereas the dark pubic hair tends to symbolize something not so pure...


Tom Friedman, "Untitled (Self-Portrait)", 1994. Carved aspirin. Photo from artnet Magazine.

This work and the next one play on our expectations of scale.

It is impressive that Friedman has managed to carve a little sculpture from an aspirin. But why such a small self portrait? ... One that we could swallow to ease a headache...

A little white sculpture on a white wall, - but still very noticeable. ... Maybe just because it is so little.


Tom Friedman, "Untitled", 1990. Bubble gum, 12,7 cm diameter. Photo from Satchi Gallery.

- Quite a large ball of gum... - Sore jaw muscles?

Look at the subtle nuances of pink color. - And that even, shiny surface...


Tom Friedman. Photo from playgrounddoor.

I cannot remember either of these last two works from the 1995 project at MoMA. They may not have been there. But they are beautiful.

The red, gold and blue in this pencil sculpture, - and the beautiful proportions... a perfect grid....


Tom Friedman, "Untitled", 1993. Plastic cups, 101,6 cm diameter. Photo from Satchi Gallery.

This circle of plastic cups looks like it has some very interesting plastic properties...