Press release: Useless Productions, Gallery USF, Bergen 2010


GALLERY USF 28.05.2010 - 29.06.2010

Artists: Daniel Andersson, Are Mokkelbost

Vemund Thoe, Michael Boruch/Henry Darger

Curated by Arne Skaug Olsen

Useless productions
The title of the exhibition Useless Productions is a reference to Georges Bataille´s concept useless expenditure, which in biology and economy signifies how a surplus of  energy (money, biological mass, life) in a system cannot be absorbed by future  growth and must therefore be consumed, as Bataille writes, ”gloriously or catastrophically”. This indicates a tendency towards transgression in human cultures that become visible in diverse phenomena like war, sexuality and financial crisis, as well as in art and cultural production. According to Bataille, the theory of useless expenditure shows there is an intrinsic link between war, art and sexuality.

Useless Productions is an attempt to unite artists with distinctly different points of view. The artists employ different strategies, but share the use of found material as a common starting point to create idiosyncratic worlds where sexuality, madness and mysticism intermingle.

Daniel Andersson
In the collage series Messianic Landscapes, Daniel Andersson uses postcards depicting European 19th century monuments, architecture and places that have been changed by the catastrophic wars, political and technological revolutions of the centuries past. Today, these postcards are charged with the aura of sites that have been stages upon which the theatre of history has been played out.

The postcards are cut and re-arranged according to geometric principles that resemble the perfection of crystalline structures which remind us that these sites held a promise of utopias to come. There is a promise of a decipherable message hidden behind the geometric code. However, the esoteric nature of the geometrical construct renders the landscapes mythological; they transcend the categories of space and time. Anderssons collages are reminders of the fact that civilizations are built on the ruins of earlier cataclysms and that to explore new territories is the same as destroying them.

There is little room for the romantic notion of nostalgia in Anderssons collages, they are not created to re-construct past memories, but rather to mirror future ruins and utopias we should avoid chasing.

Michael Boruch/Henry Darger
Henry Darger is an enigma and a mythological character. He was born in 1892 and spent his adult life in solitude, with no family, working as a caretaker at a hospital in Chicago. Only when he died and his landlords were to clean out his apartment, it was discovered that he had led a double life. Among his remains were an immense legacy of painting and literature. His main work was the novel In the Realms of the Unreal includes The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, that extends over 15 volumes of 15,145 total pages. The novel is illustrated in three bound volumes of several hundred scroll-like water paintings depicting the Vivian girls’ violent struggle against evil forces. The paintings are immensely violent. All of the mythology surrounding the character Henry Darger emits from his apartment. There are very few other sources of information about Darger that could shed light over the man and the legacy. The enigma has been further perpetuated by the tight control over the Darger legacy by the Kiyoko Lerner Foundation.

Michael Boruch is a professor in photography at DePaul University in Chicago. In 1972, shortly after Henry Dargers death, he was commissioned to document Dargers apartment. The photographs have a matter of fact descriptive quality, with a sensitivity for revealing the interior. In many ways they resemble Eugene Atget’s photographs of desolate Parisian streets, storefronts and interiors from the 19th century. The lighting suggests that the blinds have been drawn for the first time in decades to expose the legacy of Henry Darger for the first time. Boruch’s photographs have been paid little attention, and this is the first time they have been showed publicly outside of the US. Boruch’s photographs reveal a part of Darger that has been given much speculation but of which little is known.

Are Mokkelbost
Are Mokkelbosts collages in the ION series are made from magazine cuttings that are methodically sorted according to their specific colour properties. With the cut-and-paste collage technique Mokkelbost has developed, he creates studiously elaborate compositions. The polygon is the basic shape that is used to create a spatial effect and a vortex-like composition.
There is a dreamlike character dominating the work of Mokkelbost, or rather a sensation of a totally derailed world of combating forces; an abstract vision of watching a glacial landscape self-destruct in space.

The Hubble telescope captures images of distant nebulae, gigantic, interstellar star forming masses of dust, hydrogen gas, helium gas and plasma. The great paradox of the mesmerizing images from the Hubble, is that the light emitting from the nebulae is far beyond the spectrum visible to the human eye. They are simply invisible to the human eye. The night sky is black because we are unable to see the light that permeates the universe.

In the 16th century Hieronymus Bosch created his famous apocalyptic visions. Like with many visionary works of art and literature, there has been speculation if Bosch’s visions were the result of insanity, drugs or insanity caused by drugs. Whether or not it was so, Bosch’s visionary paintings shaped the way we envision the transformation of the world as we know it into something else, something unseen. Mokkelbosts work has the qualities of both the medieval apocalyptic visions and the technological transformation of the Hubble telescope. If there ever was great beauty in the destruction of worlds, this is how it would look like: Terrible and magnificent.

Vemund Thoe
Vemund Thoes video Cars is a simple but carefully composed collage of moving images of toy cars and a disturbing and ambiguous conversation. The video is dark and mesmerizing, simple and complex. At the request of the artist, the video is not described in detail regarding its contents.