Illuminated Landscape (Form as part of Meaning, a reflection of the work of Jónas Hallgrímsson in cooperation with Dick Ringler) and Conceivable Garden (Iceland Greenhouse Series)
The solo project in Nøstetangenrommet is a response to today's museum reality. The official museum policy in Norway challenges the professionals in the museums to reflect on contexts. The connection between the collection, which is fixed and reflects its original contemporary view of what a museum should be, and the changing exhibitions, which is also connected with the feelings and ideas of its time. And the connection between human cultural history, which can be said to be an attempt to give shape to cognition, fear, hope and longing, and the history of production and nature itself. There is, of course, a connection between nature as given conditions and the production of objects that solve people's practical needs and the artistic expressions that are an added value added to the purely practical and needy.
The solo project is completely in line with this way of thinking, and the starting point for the happy situation Drammens Museum is in is of course that we have the magnificent Nøstetangen room. What is displayed there are exquisite artistic products, carried forward by talent, artistic expressiveness, and by nature (timber for fuel, sand, water) and technology (melting furnaces, glassblowing, three-wheel engraving, etc.). All the artists who have been invited to exhibit in this project have had a say in this room, and many have taken on the challenge of creating very special projects in dynamic conversation with the room. Andreas Heuch, Jim Bengston and Patrick Huse are the ones who have most strongly created and directed works directly towards the room's collections.
For Patrick Huse (b. 1948), the connection is glass and transparency. His exhibition has two titles and consists of two parts: A series of 10 plexiglass boxes with a black lump of glass and an engraved text field and a series of five photographs of Icelandic greenhouses in Hveragerði. In both groups of works, nature is made into form and object, fenced in for museum production. The structure of the glass box works - called Illuminated Landscape - is a simultaneous appropriation of the glass displays in the room. The glass-mounted function both as protection and an abstract frame that accelerates a focused observation of the object, as a work of art with a meaning content. The black fields with engraved, light text - which in this case are quotations from literary theoretical texts - are a contemporary interpretation of symbols, images and mottos engraved in silver and crystal glass from the second half of the 18th century. Then as now, the glass object is accompanied and launched by a drawn or written message. The greenhouses are practical glass boxes that protect the cold-sensitive plants that would otherwise have poor chances of survival in the Icelandic climate. The greenhouses become a transparent but physical barrier between nature outside and nature inside, and between us and the green nature.
Huse's exhibition of black glass with text is a meditation on the way nature that something given, through a process becomes something else, into an object. This is in principle the same thing that happens when a glassworks processes sand through intense heat into glass which is then formed into magnificent utensils. At Huse, it is rock that is heated by the globe's own melting furnace to magma that breaks out of the earth's crust and which, as it meets the cold shock of the glacier, is quickly transformed into black glass and non-porous lava rock. This is a natural process, which becomes exemplary for the art industry.
By selecting random, phenomenologically shaped black glass clumps and placing them in a stand and illuminating them both with spotlights in the room and with a literary text, the natural, black glass is something more than something randomly given, it has become landscape fragment through the Enlightenment. By showing glass as things, photographs and text, the structure is repeated in Joseph Kosuth's famous Protoinvestigations from 1965, where phenomena such as Chair and Table are presented as things, images and definitions. In Patrick Huse's exhibition, landscape art and concept art meet.
Patric Huse has long worked with the landscape. His interest in landscape art has led to a rather unique conceptual practice in the Norwegian context. It is also somewhat rare that such an established artist, who i.a. has worked with landscape-inspired, abstract painting - in dialogue i.a. with Anselm Kiefer's cultural-historical landscapes - approaches and enters the concept art. This has little to do with the young guard of neo-conceptualists, who often point to quirky and specialized parts of the Anglo-American digital and spectacular youth culture or the gloomy subcultures of pop culture with superb taste and style. Neo-conceptualism is often Slacker in its stance.
Patrick Huse's interests and focus lie elsewhere and it is the classical concept art that was created by his generation of European and American artists from the late 1960s onwards that is the starting point. As the pioneer generation, he works with analyzes of concepts and phenomena, and he works as an anthropologist. But his concept art is different than then, it is not youthful, not a paradigmatic breach, not an aggressive transgression of art traditions and established forms and value systems. He has acquired the methods and expanded the field of anthropological research. For Huse - as a mature artist and a man with life experience - has taken the consequence of the crisis in art that i.a. concept art is an analysis of and a symptom of. He has realized that contemporary art as an academically learned discipline with or without a sense of beauty, has entered a youthful and media-driven cycle that is more akin to the fleeting news concept of fashion than to the art that seeks to communicate content and get people talking. their awareness of the living conditions as biological beings on and off the planet should be strengthened. Because it is such communication, a participatory dialogue with the audience and other artists and people with an interest in the landscape as a basis for existence, Huse is looking for. Art is an input to this conversation, which he believes is about the only really important topic of the day.
And here we come to an important distinction. The pioneer generation in concept art (Robert Morris, Sol Lewitt, Joseph Kosuth, Mel Bochner, Rober Smithson, Lawrence Weiner, Art & Language, Hans Haacke and Marcel Broedhaers - just to name the most important) worked on a change in the structure of how a work of art should represented. They went from visual, anthropomorphic or abstract / geometric form - everything modern art had consisted of - and to a representation of art through texts, definitions, photographs, diagrams and structural studies that would reveal how the work of art and the art world worked. They worked with structure, and then i.a. Kosuth went over to work with content, as an anthropologist, it was first his own Western culture they examined. Kosuth has developed his art more and more in the direction of content and the themes over the last fifteen years have been issues related to migration and human encounters across different, established boundaries of civilization.
For Huse, it is not a question of working with a structural change in how art can appear as a form of presentation. He is based on the new forms of presentation that were launched in the late 1960s. His art is an answer to the complicated question of whether concept art can form a tradition. The early paradigm-breaking concept art could not - and did not. It could - and has in the form of academic journeyman pieces - degenerate into a Style. The anthropological concept art can form a tradition by bringing in new themes, and it is in new areas for artistic processing that Huse's contribution and significance lie. It is humans' chance of survival as natural beings on earth, which is Huse's theme.
He builds on his fascination with the Icelandic landscape and the Arctic. The reason for this fascination is that it is in these areas that climate change is felt most clearly and first, and it is in these areas that the condition has been and is most extreme. These are extremes of human ability to live and where it is impossible to survive without having a close, lasting relationship with the landscape. Since knowledge, respect and familiarity with the landscape are a necessity and a matter of course, Patrick Huse finds through travel, research and dialogue with the people who live in these areas the best examples of how important it is that we understand the landscape. And it is the sense of landscape and the desire to understand, describe and codify the vastness that is our foundation and our surroundings, that made Huse begin work on the Illuminated Landscape. Based on given, ie found, Icelandic nature - the black glass (in modern art often called found objects) - he sought a poetic interpretation of what it is like to live in such a barren landscape. He found this in the poetry of the significant lyricist Jonás Hallgrímsson (1803-45). Hallgrímsson is the Icelandic poet who first gave Icelanders a language to understand the value of their landscape, and he is called by Halldor Laxness "the poet of Icelandic consciousness".
In order to further illuminate the Icelandic landscape, Patrick Huse has invented the Harvard-educated professor Dick Ringler's book about, precisely Hallgrímsson's poetry. Ringler is a professor of English and Scandinavian Studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and it is his book Bard of Iceland, Jonás Hallgrímsson - Poet and Scientist (2002), which is the starting point for the engraved texts on the plaques under the black glass. Ringler's book is i.a. a formal analysis of the language of the poems, which in turn enlightens the poem, which in its time was an attempt to enlighten the landscape.
Patrick Huse's artistic practice involves a critique of the development of the art system, what is so strongly linked to the market, media exposure in the short term and the reflections in the major art metropolises. In our usual, everyday dealings with art in the so-called art world, it is New York, Berlin, Basel and London that are at stake. In many ways, these have been the centers of modern art, and they continue to be very important. But in line with the first concept artists, who admittedly made their advances and careers in galleries in precisely such places, Huse problematizes what constitutes a center. They could say: What about Nevada, what about Arizona? Houses can say: What about Arkhangelsk, what about Hveragerði, what about Greenland, what about Seattle? And what about the museums and universities as a center in relation to the private galleries and the auction room? What about communication instead of transaction, and what about information instead of profit?
And what about the book instead of the art magazine cover or the weekend supplement? Huse has a strong degree of Secession; he does as the Viennese around 1900, who looked back on the Romans in antiquity, and their secession and secession. It is about realizing that if art is to be free, the artist must take responsibility for production, interpretation and dissemination. He must seek funding regardless of the market and he must want to bring art out to the population. The museum is a good alternative to the private gallery. Patrick Huse's artistic project in recent years has resulted in large museum exhibitions, in central locations outside the regular Euro-American itinerary.
Huse's own project is well lit through the production of 4 rich books - all for sale in the museum's bookstore in the Lyche Pavilion - where an informal, temporary network of scientists, anthropologists, art historians and local residents have collaborated to communicate aspects of living in a the world where extreme situations are being normalized, and where the world is getting smaller as it gets closer. He moves like a nomad around the outposts of the world, and he finds that these are also central places - for those who are there. Sometimes there are few, other times there are very many people there. With this method, his art is suitable to enlighten us about the possibilities of art in a global world.
Museum director and curator of the Solo project in the Nøstetangen room
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