the process is the artwork


Monochromatic Panorama in Stavanger

The first signs of summer finally reached Stavanger city today and the centre has been boiling with sun-thirsty people and animals. Except from a poor Chiwawa dressed in red and white-striped wool nickers, most had seized the opportunity to show off some of their frail skin, bleached after a long, grey winter.

I’ve never been particularly fond of large concentrations of people, and reading George Orwell’s 1984 enhances my necessity for space and privacy (which may seem paradoxical as I publish this stuff for anyone to read whilst panoptically sitting in front of a low light optimized webcam dressed only in my underwear happily unaware that some idiot with potentially foul intensions might easily hack ito my computer and capture me pondering on the keyboard without any make-up on. Or worse.)

I decided to grab some fast take away food from Burger King. To ease my conscience, I chose a healthy burger, to match my sporty clothes, but had to wait three whole minutes amongst human pheromones and oil stench, then grabbed the burger, quickly turned around, and noticed a man standing behind me. It was the same man who had handed me a plastic bag at a supermarket on the other side of town earlier! Naturally I decided to hurry back to my hotel without looking back. Could he be a burger-spy?

The huge panorama window in my room on the 11th floor framed the city like a picture-perfect postcard, but the urban view only reminded me of all the cacophonous ant-like colonies in the streets below I was trying to escape from. I jumped into bed, and stayed low, so no one would catch me eating a burger. Ants have a tendency to get in everywhere whenever they smell food. Did you know that they may form 15-25% of the terrestrial animal biomass?

The first bite indicated why the above mentioned burger is so-called healthy, and I’ll tell you why: it tastes like shit, which discourages you from eating it (Is it really chicken? Tastes more like Soylent Green-stuff). I aimed for the garbage bin and scored (YES!) but for some freaky reason, the TV (or perhaps telescreen?) turned itself on automatically. I repeated my Tinker Bell mantra («Think happy thoughts») three times. When I looked out the window, the panoramic postcard had been replaced with a soothing Pihlesque monochromatic painting, although not in the same harmonic 4:5 ratio as Thomas Pihls’ Prearticulation series, hinting that the panorama/paranoia was still there should I accidentally lift my head from the pillow.

 The title Pre-articulation «suggests something like a pre- or extra linguistic state» (1).

 «I am interested in the “place” or “moment” – I don’t know what to name it – where senses are challenged to be heightened. For instance: Did the doorbell ring? – The question will make you more alert as a listener. It is an attempt to grasp delicate and frail phenomena. Due to the information culture and the aesthetic invasion of our senses – this quality is often not activated as a source of awareness and wish for insight. This microscopic “opening” has extraordinary potential to cultivate sensitivity and alertness both personally and communal. Because awareness is an inactivated and unguarded deep need, this opening to our “soul” is also discovered, occupied and bombarded by the contemporary aesthetic overproduction.» (1)

 The outside world fades away into a monochrome silence as I gradually slip into a transcendental state. But just like Pihls paintings, the sky outside is hardly monochrome: although it reminds of a smooth surface of a painting,  it is in constant change. In our hyper-visual world, the slow and subtile offers a place for reflection (2). The blue-grey surface gradually fades to black as I drift into a time-space-existence-bubble.

Little luminous dots move around against the black contrast now and suddenly the telescreen turns itself on once more. Another coincidence? Clearly one cannot completely escape this imposing world, but it is possible to find occasional time-outs.

Thomas Pihl standing in front of a painting from his Prearticulations-series. Photo: Rasmus Hungnes

PS: Read more about my teacher Thomas Pihl, who will show works at the exhibition entitled Personal Structures Space Time Existence at Palazzo Bembo during the Venice Biennale 2011 (La Biennale de Venezia), on the following links.


2 responses

  1. Welcome to our Stavanger world Ellen ! Though I am in Røros right now. Seems you enjoy your stay . Carry on love Agnes Btffn

    July 14, 2011 at 8:55 am

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