Welcome to the new exhibition period at Kunsthall 3,14. We are proud to present (1944 – 1991) – Former NKVD – MVD – MGB – KGB Buildings by Indré Šerpytytė, and Cable ITCH (I don´t wanna work at Island no more) by Søren Thilo Funder. Both projects can be viewed as transmitters of memory and incitements of thought about historical, political and ideological sights. Together, the art conveys and illuminates, reflects and enlightens us of symptoms of political systems with its dimensions of power and implications on people´s lives.
| EXHIBITION HALL |
(1944 – 1991) – Former NKVD – MVD – MGB – KGB Buildings
We all live now in a world dominated by surveillance in which grey zones fusing state and corporate surveillance, including those essential to social media platforms, have infused our everyday life. Surveillance of all aspects of society and massive data gathering has become the norm rather than the exception normally associated with totalitarian states and regimes no longer in existence. Free software packaged as “liberating” seemingly offers opportunities to connect with others and share information. We pay by willingly giving away information about ourselves. The culture of domination has become depoliticized, with administrations of experts making this all possible. Even democracies operate outside of their direct democratic mandates. With Edward Snowden bringing this to the world’s attention eight years ago, allies are still spying on allies, as this month’s reports about Denmark’s military intelligence agency helping facilitate US spying activities confirms; the phrase from Shakespeare’s Hamlet has never been more true: “There is something rotten in the state of Denmark”. European politicians, including German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, the French President, Emmanuel Macron, as well as leading politicians in Norway, have expressed concern and demanded for an explanation.
The exhibition (1944-1991) – Former NKVD – MVD – MGB – KGB Buildings by Indre Šerpytytė portray aspects of institutionalized surveillance and the means for obtaining valuable information on individuals to effect individualized governmental control and restrictions. According to Soviet laws KGB and other agencies were free to interpret and determine any one as “suspect” of antistate activity. They could detain, interrogate, imprison and torture them in the name of “crime against the state”. Domestic dwellings throughout villages and towns were utilized for this exertion.
Šerpytytė started out by investigating which houses were used for surveillance by the Soviet regime, before then photographing them in situ. She does not access the houses of surveillance and interrogation—she portrays them with a critical and questioning gaze. The exhibition comprises nine notebooks with the pictures of the actual houses used by various divisions of Soviet military intelligence, secret police, and internal affairs, in addition to over 300 model houses carved in wood based on those pictures and 24 black-and-white photographic images of the sculptural objects.
The visual circle is completed by the monochrome still-life portraits of each wooden model house; the objects hold the central part of the project and are featured in the middle of the exhibition space, but, invoking the model of the Matryoshka (‘Russian dolls’), each element of the installation is both a ‘content’ and ‘container’ at the same time. Because each element acts on the other, engaging in an interpretation of the work requires a mode of reading the elements together.
The fragmentary and mixed nature of the archive is a part of Indre´s artistic research - to de- and re-archive. Photographical representation and model building provide us with information from which we can start to imagine.
The web of people affiliated with these buildings in Lithuania, be they the interrogated or the group of people organized by “the system” such as soldiers, agents, and secret police officers, the archivist maintaining the files, the new tenants living or working in the buildings after the end of Soviet rule, the craftsman who carved every single one of the model houses, and the artist´s father, Albinas Šerpytis, a former head of government security who died under suspicious circumstances in 2001. Their responsiveness, complicity, awareness, and knowledge (or lack thereof) regarding their individual and collective involvement in the Soviet repression behind the Iron Curtain lingers in this project.
Historically, photographic and sculptural representation has in many instances replaced our personal ability to gain knowledge about the world. The work holds a persistent presence in its depiction and presentation of objects. The notebooks, model houses and black-and-white images reinforce each other and map an important story. The installation has a strong visual systematization due to all of the vertical and horizontal lines created by the number of shelves. This encourages closer examination: a language of repetition on one hand, and the different details on the other, opening the work up to differing experiences.
In Bergen the Gestapo museum recently opened it´s doors. It is not large, but important history is found in the small rooms that has not been altered and changed much since 1945. Resistance fighters and ordinary people from Bergen were detained, interrogated and tortured there. Through history, we can learn how past societies, systems, ideologies, governments, cultures and technologies were built, how they operated, and how they have changed. The history of the world helps us to paint a detailed picture of where we stand today as well as helps us determine how to approach the future.
| ENTRANCE HALL |
Søren Thilo Funder
Cable ITCH (I don´t wanna work at Island no more)
Cable ITCH (I don’t wanna work at Island no more) is a five channel video installation unfolding in the foyer of Kunsthall 3,14. Distributed up the staircase a series of video works comprise a narrative revolving around another staircase, namely the one leading up to the offices of the high frequency trading company Island ECN, on 50 Broad St. in the Financial District of New York City.
Island ECN, founded by computer programmer and free information idealist Joshua Levine, held offices on the 10th floor of 50 Broad St. through the nineties. Island housed the ultimate avant-garde of high frequency trading, king of the plumbers, those that understood to bank on the very plumbing facilitating the transaction of the stock rather than the stock itself. And it was here that high frequency trading was conceived, leaving its distinct mark on the future of economics. A form of trading outmanoeuvring human faculty, the speed of every micro transaction weaving ever-new threads in an opaque unstable neuro-network of hyper-connected currents.
Cable ITCH (I don’t wanna work at Island no more) forms a meditation on the unfathomable literal mess that this office space was left in. The absurd otherness of these trash-ridden offices, contrasts how the financial market (and with it algorithmic transactions) is considered norm in contemporary society, shaping not only a prevalent ideology of binary logic, but really also a sort of absolutism, from where all societal and personal imaginations ultimately must emerge. The market, as incontestable constituent of our realm of imagination, is somehow challenged in this eerie meeting with the physical mess it sprang from. From Island’s offices on the 10th floor a thick fiber optic cable snaked down the marble staircase to the sixth floor where Island kept it’s servers. This cable forms a focal narrative point for Cable ITCH (I don’t wanna work at Island no more), it’s transportation of information down through the building, a conduit for investigating the space between physicality and immateriality in the realm of finance trade.
In the staircase of Kunsthall 3,14 five flatscreen monitors are distributed up the flights of stairs. On one screen we are presented with the waste cluttered office spaces of Island ECN seen from the perspective of a CGI pet Iguana roaming through the empty soda cans, styrofoam cups and pizza boxes. On two other screens we are introduced to a thick cable snaking its way down a staircase, modelled in 3D after the actual staircase of Kunsthall 3,14 (the building housing Kunsthall 3,14 former function as bank accounts for its staircase sharing many visual similarities with the staircase of 50 Broad St in New York City). This cable alters between different states. Sometimes it liquidises into a black oily pool, at others it turns into a centipede-like creature, telescoping its rippled body. At moments water floods the staircase and the cable transforms into a deep sea internet cable, habitat for seashells and a ghostlike pyrosome. Sometimes the cable just tangles up and coexists with kindred cables, relishing in the cable mess. Throughout these sequences an anti-work meditation, from the hellish work environment of Island ECN, reads out. On a fourth screen we’re on the roof top of a highrise, where a businessman wearing a motorbike helmet picks up his nerve to jump onto a towering slide, promising a suicidal ride to the ground below. The slide forms a physical manifestation of Joshua Levine’s blog post of February 11th, 2018:
I’ve been dreaming of jumping off the top of the Grace Building since I was a little kid.
It always seemed like the curve would catch me like the hand of god.
I’d love to build a giant stainless steel parabolic curve.
Really giant, like hundreds of feet tall.
The curve would be vertical at the top, gently becoming horizontal by the bottom.
It would “catch” you by directing your downward motion into forward motion.
At the top you would be in free-fall, at the bottom you’d be on the fastest county fair slide ever.
Present throughout the foyer of Kunsthall 3,14 is the sound of a whistling tune. On a final screen, a stockbroker is pressing through the vinter crowd of the financial district in NYC, outpacing the other pedestrians. He is wearing his grey suit and no overcoat. No woollen cap, no thick scarf. His upbeat pace is accompanied by this repetitive tune that he whistles in white gusts of exhaled breath condensate. ‘In the Hall of The Mountain King’, repeated again and again in a persuasive tune crackled by the piercing cold. On his shoulder an M is written in chalk. Recalling the fictional character Hans Beckert from Fritz Lang’s Film Noir M - Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder, this obsessive tune pushes, with the deterministic stockbroker, through the urban landscape of financial speculation. He turns down Broad St. and now he’s on Pearl, now Beaver, now Pine. As the track jump cuts and replaces the stockbroker on different paths, forever tracing the triangle of the financial district through the cutting cold, and as the final edited file loops, the travel becomes eternal - all trajectory no destination.
On a handrail in the staircase at Kunsthall 3,14, a small gold pendant is hanging from a gold chain, swung around the handrail, as if someone had found it on the stairs. The small jewellery is cast in the shape of the original entrance doorway to Island ECN in Broad St. The pendant sticks out in the space as something rather physical and directly valuable - countering the imaginary value of finance economy and the virtuality of the many CGI environments of the installation.
Cable ITCH (I don't wanna work at Island no more) constitutes the midways presentation for Søren Thilo Funder's Artistic Research PhD at The Art Academy – Department of Contemporary Art, UIB.
Cable ITCH (I don't wanna work at Island no more) received support from Knud Højgaards Fond og Statens Kunstfond, DK.