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.