19th September – 22nd November 2009
The work of the Norwegian writer and artist Matias Faldbakken (*1973) mixes a conceptual procedure with trivial gestures, vandalism and appropriation, poetry and pop-culture. He has produced a series of new works for the Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen which he has brought together under the title «Extreme Siesta».
The exhibition circles around the idea of artistic production as the practice of doing nothing and of negation – and this not without a fair dash of sarcasm. His sculptures, wall paintings and video works, for which he uses adhesive tape, spray paint, rough canvases and found footage, realise this concept precisely and radically. Faldbakken really sees art "as the opposite of work, non-productivity in a certain way. This is what I want to go into in St. Gallen: art as non-work. And art that is produced in a situation removed from the idea of work. The almost Debordian thought that a life dedicated to the work of negation is a life dedicated to the negation of work is twisted into a cozy formulation of 'art-as-extreme-non-work'."
Faldbakken is already known in the art world for his examination of the theme of negation and his work is even described as "conceptual Nihilism". Beyond the visual representation of negation Faldbakken's art can be understood as an incarnation of an artistic attitude which is not only based on the presentation of negation but much more on an unconventional attitude towards life. Based on this position, various concerns meet in Faldbakken's work such as the impulse towards vandalism, the search for freedom through rebellion, an obsession with death and suicide, the rejection of aesthetics as well as the aesthetics of rejection and the conviction that art should exist as a necessary negative category.
Despite the use of various media «Extreme Siesta» reflects a very concrete and precise attitude so that the exhibition should be seen as a unified project. Only new works which are characterised by simple workmanship will be on show: a combination of "do-it-yourself" aesthetics, laziness, cheap materials and fast production which confronts the public with the idea of "non-productive production". The works have an ambivalent status; they are somewhere between radical gesture and the risk of appearing too simple. An example of this is the wall painting Untitled (Outline) in which Faldbakken will decorate the premises of the Kunst Halle with half-finished monochrome graffiti that stretches over windows and doors. In front of the Kunst Halle Abstracted Car #2 is parked, a sprayed car that simultaneously represents an unusual monument to vandalism and Actionism. These works are artistic gestures which can of course be read as "sloppy" but which, in the context of a contemporary art institution, also address complex subjects such as youth culture, the history of abstraction and social and institutional self-censorship.
However, in the final analysis the big "No" which Faldbakken's works appear to advocate becomes a positive, productive and offensive gesture, which forces both the public as well as the Kunst Halle into deeper reflection. It is about social and cultural conventions which are there to be broken but it is also about the discussion of the role of work in the definition of our everyday life.
About the artist:
Matias Faldbakken (*1973 in Denmark, lives and works in Oslo) studied at the Academy of Fine Art Bergen and the Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main. He has had solo exhibitions at the following institutions and galleries (selection): IKON Gallery, Birmingham; The National Museum of Art, Design and Architecture, Oslo; Annen Etage, the annex at the Faculty of Visual Arts, KHiO, Oslo; Reena Spaulings Fine Art, New York (2009); Simon Lee Gallery, London; Galerie Giti Nourbakhsch, Berlin (2008); STANDARD (OSLO), Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis (2007). In addition Faldbakken has participated in numerous group exhibitions, recently at the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA); Kunsthalle Andratx, Mallorca; Marvelli Gallery, New York (2009); Aspen Art Museum; Henie Onstad Art Centre, Høvikodden; Rekord, Oslo; Cosmic Galerie, Paris; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, Florida; Elizabeth Dee Gallery, New York; Den Frie Udstilling, Copenhagen; Tel Aviv Museum Of Art (2008).