Morten Andenæs' second exhibition at Galleri Riis Stockholm speaks to his interest in the role representation plays, not only in describing the world as something given, but in constituting it. Narratives of social identity, of inclusion and exclusion, of family ties and social bonds all emanate from the basic impulse to re-present the world through language and images.
On closing in. The act of getting closer to a person, an emotion, truth etc. and the concomitant threat, which inevitably accompanies such a gesture.
If Andenæs' previous exhibition, enclosed circuit x, was deliberately distanced and consisted of non-pictures: empty spaces for projection, lacking in narrative aids, then the current group of pictures draw us in, quietly. Look at these photographs, they are what they are.
Though the subject matter lends itself readily to description, there is a sense that something is concealed. A displacement that keeps us from seeing the works head on. The titles themselves, at times tautological and at other moments associative and poetic, point to Andenæs' interest in semiotics, to the curse and salvation brought on by language, by signs. How frail we are in the face of these seemingly random, inarticulate strings of sounds we've learned to utter when they not only describe our world, but in fact constitute it.
There can be no such thing as simply seeing the world without describing it and the description demands language, the explanatory word. But what, pray, is explained?
Green apples? Is that all?
The works are simple and at the same time so very difficult. There seems to me to be a certain kind of interpretative cynicism at work within us all, which makes it impossible to approach these pictures innocently. They emanate a certain volatile charge and a feeling that something is not quite right. Am I allowed to feel anything when confronted with them? Must I decipher them? There's something bittersweet in our being so corrupted. Like the monkey shying away from its own gaze, we're confronted perhaps with an honesty we are not equipped to deal with.
I thought I knew. Those arms resting on the table, functioning like physical extensions from where we stand, are they ours?
I thought I knew. As close perhaps, as we'll ever get to another.
What was it they once held? We demand of the world, and subsequently of an image that it provides the basic coordinates of meaning, that it provides us with a certain sense in order for us not to lose ourselves, or the world we inhabit. Once set in motion, the engine that fuels our need for making sense of the world, of inscribing it with meaning cannot simply be shut off.
Apples, an island, a gloomy sky or a raft. The portable photographic copy is a thing. Something to own, to gaze at. An object we come back to and rest our eyes on, which like us, ages. Their meaning displaced and changes according to whatever circumstance might dictate. The photograph beyond what is portrayed, the subject matter in turn becoming a mirror.
Andenæs raises questions pertaining to images and language and how these function as catalysts in forging relationships between people. The child's drawing for example speaks of an interesting agreement. Parents learn to decipher the scribbles of their child through language and in turn a certain "we" is created.
Paintings and photographs also have in common that they enable viewers to come together, side by side in front of the about-faced monkey for example and through language, describe it to each other. Both looking straight at it, but none of them seeing exactly what the other sees. All the artist can do is to leave the room quietly and leave us as viewers, resigned to our fate never knowing exactly what was seen or felt.