Review of Balkong Tromsø - Yngre Tromsøkunstnere - Maija Liisa Björklund, Henrik Sørlid and Kristin Tårnes, Maristuen 2 (a privat home) / Tromsø Kunstforening, 07.12.2018 – 09.12.2018.
The exhibition is the second in a series of three Balkong Tromsø-exhibitions presented as part of Søssa Jørgensen and Geir Tore Holm’s exhibition Samarbeid 1993 - 2018 at Tromsø Kunstforening 06.10.2018 – 16.12.2018.
Written by Bianca Hisse
Initiated 25 years ago in Trondheim, Balkong’s proposal still brings very interesting reflections on where art takes place and how it is framed.
As soon as I enter the exhibition space, recognizable objects get my attention. Living in the same house as Henrik Sørlid and Maija Liisa Björklund inevitably guided my experience, making me consider not only the exhibited works but also my own personal life. Tarot cards, a broken door, drawings and other small objects that have been present in my daily life were suddenly part of a different house, merging with the space but also claiming attention in a surprising way. In the living room, the door with wooden planks on the wall seems to scream “I don’t belong here”.
Art and daily life
Being in someone else’s private space is one of the major premises in the Balkong Tromsø project in which three different exhibitions are located in three different private homes. In this respect, the installation The political is private (2018) by Björklund and Sørlid stretches the subtle (but long) line between art and daily life even more. Similar to a photo album, a sequence of images depict their living room, garden, backyard and moments of leisure during a possible summer vacation. Small details like these reveal a glimpse of their sensitivity when displaying their personal world to the public while suggesting a certain doubt on what is supposed to be seen as art.
While common notion of home as a private space prevails in our society, the artists were precise in positioning themselves and their works in a state of partial privacy. This could also be seen in the performance Week-end, when Björklund starts unannounced, playing the piano from inside a room. At first, the public can only hear the sounds, until Sørlid starts playing in a second piano in front of the audience. By referencing Jean-Luc Godard’s homonym movie, they comment on what is expected of contemporary music and perform a surprising musical couple dynamics.
Even though Kristin Tårnes’ video (over)tro (2016) did not directly address the home as a subject, it opened a discussion on the other side of the same coin: art and institutional spaces. Reflecting on why the Ä’vv Skolt Sámi Museum in Neiden took 8 years to be opened after its construction, she questions the role of superstition, tradition and politics surrounding the building. Her narration is sharp while posing the contradictions of the situation. In addition to that, important choice was to show the video on the TV screen in the living room, contributing to the general sense of privacy around the whole exhibition.
“Isn’t it better to follow the traditions, just in case?” The ironic question in Tårnes video creates a parallel to all artistic decisions within the exhibition space, and it is interesting to note how the three artists proposed a potent way to respond to what is traditionally expected in this type of setting. How and where to exhibit an artwork? Along these lines, Tårnes, Björklund and Sørlid brought powerful insights on the potential of mysticism, personal experiences, private affections and political constructions as complementary forces of an artistic situation.