Nicolai Wallner presents E.B. ITSO || JOACHIM KOESTER
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Installation view (2015)
A BRANCH OF SPECIAL METHODS
March 6 - April 18 2015
Galleri Nicolai Wallner is pleased to present a solo exhibition of works by E.B. Itso. The exhibition, A Branch of Special Methods, marks E.B. Itso’s first solo at the gallery.
E.B. Itso’s primary focus lies in what happens beyond the limits of everyday society—with the factions of people who have intentionally chosen to live outside the general population. Through the investigation of this underworld, E.B. Itso blurs the lines of documentation and participation. By searching and studying that which goes unnoticed, he inserts himself within this world, and in so doing takes on some of this secrecy.
With A Branch of Special Methods, E.B. Itso turns his attention towards the subculture of the criminal element. Looking at aspects of subterfuge that run throughout society, E.B. Itso focuses more specifically on the life of the criminal in captivity. Through this line of thought, a question emerges—what happens when a group so famously known for its desire to be separated and distinctly isolated is forced to let those desires go? What happens when we institutionalise those who, by virtue of how they choose to live, absolutely cannot be institutionalised? The answer is an unequivocal need to escape.
In a first room, this idea of escape is quite literally demonstrated. The installation contains a video reconstruction done by the Danish Police in the 1950s, acting out notable criminal Carl August Lorentzen’s highly sophisticated and infamous break from the Horsens State Prison. There is an air of mystery and secrecy surrounding the prisoner’s offense, as their actions are left deliberately out by E.B. Itso. Instead, the concentration lies fully within the idea of the escape.
In other works, the idea of the escape is more tactile. Cardboard Boxes is comprised of a set of standard boxes, each seemingly ordinary. However, each box is a same-size replica of one used by a prisoner to literally ship himself out of prison. With Loop Holes, a name, a prison and its location, a date and a measurement are on the bottom of each print. Above the inscription is a blackened rectangular shape. On closer inspection, the shapes match up with the given dimensions, which indicate that it is in reference to the measurements of a hole. Each work within the series alludes to a hole constructed and used by a prisoner for the purpose of escape.
There is something visually jarring about the works. Abrupt corners, angular lines and harsh shapes convey a constrained mentality that seems to quite literally go against the stereotyped freedom and brashness of someone who refuses to conform. The holes are small and boxes are stiff, and the reenactment of Carl August Lorentzen’s escape highlights the necessity to be able to collapse in on yourself, both mentally and physically.
The way in which E.B. Itso identifies each prisoner with their manner of escape creates a intimate portrait. Each work becomes a visual means through which the spectator can imagine physically putting himself in each prisoner’s position, and furthermore, imagine putting himself through his escape. What emerges is the deafening need to sustain what was already in place—to continue in the manner which they always had, and which can only happen outside of the systemised institution.
E.B. Itso has shown in institutions and galleries in the US and Europe, notably at ARoS (Aarhus), Kunsthal Charlottenborg (Copenhagen), Den Frie (Copenhagen), ICA Institute of Contemporary Art (Philadelphia) and Printed Matter (New York) among others. His work has also been shown at Festival of Future Nows at Neue Nationalgalerie (Berlin).
EVERY MUSCULAR CONTRACTION CONTAINS THE HISTORY AND MEANING OF ITS ORIGIN
March 6 - April 18 2015
Galleri Nicolai Wallner is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of works by Joachim Koester. In one of Koester’s most striking shows to date, an immersive, large-scale installation encompasses the exhibition space.
An exploratory starting point is the video work The Place of Dead Roads. Referencing a western novel of the same name by William S. Burroughs, four androgynous cowboys inhabit a space not unlike the one in which the spectator finds themselves. A series of twitches, shudders, full body spasms, gestures both rapid and slow, pulsate through all four figures. Almost as if involved in a classic shoot-out with an invisible opponent, the cowboys draw their guns, go through motions and stances of posturing as if in the middle of both attacking and defending, yet these actions are not driven by a definable narrative. Rather they seem to correspond to something that lies deep within the body, guiding and determining each moment.
Finding inspiration in the idea of Wilhelm Reich that “every muscular contraction contains the history and meaning of its origin”—from which the exhibition takes its title—Koester creates a universe in which each movement tells the story of its past through its present. This implicit ability for our actions to create and maintain their own narrative, embedded under the skin, buried in our tissue, creates a juxtaposition between the hidden and the visible. This division between the hidden traces of the past and what visibly appears in the present is the focus of much of Koester’s work. The nature of the installation gives the spectator a sense of this division, as they act as both viewer and participant, breaking the boundaries between the passive and active in an attempt to investigate that which cannot be seen.
Just as with The Place of Dead Roads, each of the spectator’s movements remains within the context what has come to pass, each movement becoming, in turn, a historical act in itself, invisibly creating the foundation for which each subsequent movement comes from. Echoing this idea of an obscured history, wooden structures and boarded up installations become places of isolated secrecy. They confine and limit, both from the inside and out, allowing those masked acts to remain so.
In Burroughs’s novel, the place of dead roads refers not to those roads which go unused, but rather those roads which are reserved for the dead—as actions become too repetitive, and thus too entrenched in their own history, they lose the ability to make way for the unexpected and the new. However as with Reich, Koester leaves the possibility for this pattern to be broken.
As each movement refers to its past, so does it open up the potential to move towards a different future. With Koester’s work My Frontier is an Endless Wall of Points (after the mescaline drawings of Henri Michaux) (2007), an affirmative push towards the unexplored is visualised through an animation of drawings that Henri Michaux made while under the influence of mescaline.
Two photographic works create a point of intersection with the videos. Idolomantis diabolica features a portrait of that particular species of praying mantis. Its almost otherworldly and android appearance juxtaposed by its human qualities has given way to the creation of a subculture in which it is central. Demonology is based on the drawings from a "demon wall" done in 1620 in a church in Norway. Both works allude to the secrecy and compulsion in the videos, while at the same time echoing this desire to be unleashed as seen with Henri Michaux, creating this intersection between secrets, exploration and indulgence.
Joachim Koester (b.1962, Denmark) is highly regarded as one of the most important conceptual artists of his generation. He has had many notable exhibitions around the world, including MCA (Chicago), Musee d’art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (Paris) Centre d’Art Contemporain (Geneva), S.M.A.K. (Ghent), Moderna Museet (Stockholm) and PS1 (New York). In 2008, he was shortlisted for the prestigious Hugo Boss Prize. In 2013, he was awarded the Camera Austria prize for photography. Koester’s work can be found in the collections of MoMA (New York), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (Madrid), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Centre Pompidou (Paris), Generali Foundation (Vienna), The National Gallery of Denmark (Copenhagen) and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Humlebæk), and the Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburg) among many others.
Galleri Nicolai Wallner
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