An open and investigative quality coupled with bold juxtapositions
of unconventional materials are recurring characteristics in
Kirsten Ortwed's work. She uses prefabricated materials, objects
that we encounter in our everyday lives, but also materials used
in classical sculpture: plaster, wax, and bronze. One is constantly
surprised by the different qualities that Ortwed draws out of
the materials. For example, a certain form can make us think
that it is composed of clay when in fact it is made of sandblasted
aluminium. What is fluid in one context becomes solid or vice
versa, the functional passes over into the useless, the sublime
finds itself in an exchange with the banal. In these dialogues,
time becomes a factor to take into account. This raises certain
questions. Is this a kind of time that is contained within the
individual work? Or is it rather the 'spatialized time' that
we feel exists in the relation between the various works
sharing the space, that is to say between the streams of energy
that connect the various works with each other and also to the
Even as a student, Kirsten Ortwed always went her own way,
discovering, trying, questioning and perceiving things from alternative
viewpoints. A few years ago, in response to the question of where
she finds herself within the current art scene (i.e. in relation
to Minimalism, Conceptual Art, and feminist art), she answered
"On the third floor, first door to the right."
Ortwed has lived and worked in Germany and Italy since 1982.
She was born in Copenhagen in 1948 and studied sculpture at the
Art Academy in Copenhagen from 1972 to 1975. Ortwed's teachers
at the Art Academy, professors Arthur Kopcke and Gunnar Aagaard
Andersen, both emphasized the artwork's relation to the surrounding
space, the former as a spokesperson for Conceptual Art and the
latter for formally experimental art. This is the source of Kirsten
Ortwed's interest in the interaction between the work and its
On 17 November 1998 Stockholm's Culture and Sports Association
Ortwed the winner of a competition to design a memorial to Raoul
for the Raoul Wallenberg Square at Nybroviken in Stockholm. She
Denmark at the Venice Biennial in 1997.
Lawrence Weiner was born in 1942 in the Bronx, New York City.
After school in New York, Weiner spent the late 50s and early
60s travelling through the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. He has been
based in New York City since, although he spends part of every
year on his boat in Amsterdam.
According to Lawrence Weiner, his first appearance as an artist
took place in 1960 in Mill Valley, California. He arranged a
series of explosions in the ground, which together with the resulting
craters could be seen as a very early example of the kind of
work that became known as Land Art and which was pursued by other
artists starting around 1970.
Back in New York, Weiner took up painting, where he would
allow the audience to determine his technique, format, colors,
and form. Already in 1969, Weiner laid down the principles for
his work in an often-cited declaration which he has stood by
1. THE ARTIST MAY CONSTRUCT THE WORK
2. THE WORK MAY BE FABRICATED
3. THE WORK NEED NOT BE BUILT
EACH BEING EQUAL AND CONSISTENT WITH THE INTENT OF THE ARTIST
THE DECISION AS TO CONDITION RESTS WITH THE RECEIVER UPON THE
OCCASION OF RECEIVERSHIP
The works that Weiner did at that time took the form of sentences
such as "ONE
QUART EXTERIOR GREEN ENAMEL THROWN ON A BRICK WALL" or "A
2" WIDE 1" DEEP TRENCH CUT ACROSS A STANDARD ONE CAR
that describe activities associated with either painting or sculpture.
Some of them, such as "A FIELD CRATERED BY STRUCTURED SIMULTANEOUS
TNT EXPLOSIONS," referred to Weiner's earlier work, but
as he had made clear in the third part of his declaration, he
never felt compelled to actually carry out the activities he
described in words. It was in fact this sentence, "The work
need not be built," that constituted the main difference
between Weiner's work and everything that had happened before
in the visual arts. By making his art using only words, Weiner
explicitly redefined art, at least in his own practice, so that
it was not confined to being a particular object made by an artist
or according to the artist's instructions. Instead, art became
a connecting structure dependent on the receiver or viewer. Through
this, Weiner became one of the founders of what has become known
as Conceptual Art.
BARRY LE VA
Born 1941 in Long Beach, California
After studying mathematics and architecture for three years
at California State
University, Barry Le Va began studying art at the Otis Art Institute
in Los Angeles
and received a degree in 1967. In the 70s, he taught sculpture
at Princeton and
Barry Le Va has worked and lived in New York City for more
than two decades.
Barry Le Va's work, like Richard Serra's and the early sculptures
of Carl André's, is about placing the viewer within the
work rather than keeping him or her outside it. The viewer is
in the space and influences the sculpture. He or she thereby
becomes a part of the experience by moving through the work,
looking at each part, examining the Internal relation between
the parts (that is to say the field of tension that each part
acquires in relation to the other parts) and finding out how
and to what extent the balance between the parts is maintained
as the viewer shifts position and viewpoint. The experience is
strengthened if the work gives the impression of being in a delicate
balance or in a state of restrained and unrealized transformation,
both physically and conceptually. By being engaged in this way,
the viewer is brought into dialogue with the work and the artist.
When the subject of painting is brought up, Barry Le Va says
that he has never understood when a painting is finished, which
is why he does not paint. He dislikes the idea of a completed
artwork, the idea of a state of completion.
The artist's studies in architecture have contributed to developing
his sensitivity toward space, presence, volume, form, force fields,
relations, and tension. Barry Le Va's sculptures are comprised
of elements that he can constantly change by varying their arrangement,
spatial relations, content and so on. The sculptures are therefore
never completed. The artist starts with a set of elements and
an open score or manuscript that he follows, and proceeds by
testing things out, eliminating, making adjustments, and producing
new arrangements. Barry Le Va says that "There's no sense
in worrying about what it's going to look like beforehand. If
you have your elements that mean something, it's arranging them
to focus in on what you want them to do: it's three-dimensional
work, but it's closer to musical composition."
A naked, talking lightbulb, photographs of trash piles, dolls
with grimacing faces, huge eyes hovering freely in the room or
lying in a corner. These are some of Tony Oursler's works at
the Malmo Konsthall.
Tony Oursler is fascinated by the endless potential of new
technology. He made his first video, "Joe, Joe's Transexual
Brother and Joe's Woman", in 1976. Since then he has continued
to explore and work with both video and other media, often in
combination with each other. His great interest in the artistic
possibilities of new technology has led him to combine separate
media and techniques in an attempt to expand the definition of
different media beyond their traditional areas of use.
One result of this curiosity about transcending boundaries
- between forms of literature, language, film and theatre - is
"fantastic Prayers", a CD-ROM made in co-operation
with Constance DeJong and Stephen Vitiello: Tony Oursler produced
the pictures, DeJong the texts and Vitiello the music. "Fantastic
Prayers" opens a series of small private worlds; stories
are told. The observer turns into the user, and becomes active.
The photographs work in a different way. They are descriptions,
not narratives. The exhibition includes a number of photographs
of trash piles, primarily in New York, but also in other places
in the United States and Asia. The trash piles are "unconscious
sculptures". According to Tony Oursler; two things make
something into a sculpture: the material it is made from and
the way the material is used. In the case of the trash piles,
where the artist has influenced neither the choice of material
nor the way it is used, he takes on another role: that of the
passer-by, the observer. Drawing on experiences, memory, etc.,
he sees, documents and makes visible the trash piles, the sculptures.
Tony Oursler himself is constantly present in his work - a
complex figure who takes on an endless series of roles, professions
and characteristics. He is a film director, cameraman, inventor,
writer, technician and, above all, an actor. In this way Tony
Oursler journeys between the outer and inner worlds.
Recurring themes in his later work are violence, television,
the mass media, sex, drugs, mental illness, good versus evil,
love, chaos, pop culture, religion and Catholicism, pollution,
etc. His exhibition at the Malmo Art Museum encom-passes videos,
dolls, photos, drawings, viruses, talking light, heads and eyes.
Tony Oursler was born in New York in 1957. He trained at the
California Institute for the Arts, but is now back living and
working in New York.
Fifty-four years will soon have passed since the end of the Second
World War and the first shocking revelations about the concentration
camps of Nazi Germany. At that time it was felt to be almost
impossible to depict the Holocaust either in writing or through
pictures. The gruesome evidence of human cruelty surpassed any
possible representation of it.
What was once the present has become history. When we gather
impressions today they come to us second or third-hand - from
books, reportage, or through films such as Schindler's List
- and we raise memorials in cities far away from the places where
the crimes took place. But the sites of the concentration camps
still exist. They have also become memorials. There, with patience,
we can become absorbed in reflection and listen in silence to
the rattling noises, the voices, and the cries.
Today we have a great need to remember the reality of the
Holocaust. In 1987 the photographer Dirk Reinartz began documenting
the journey of sorrow: Dachau, Auschwitz, Ravensbruck, Treblinka....The
list is a long one. Seven years later he had compiled a series
of 200 black-and-white photographs of the remains of the 24 death
camps. The similarities between the remains at the different
places - the presence everywhere of railway tracks, barbed wire,
concrete, windowless walls, and the absence of details - testifie
to an inhuman mechanisation and the total institutionalisation
of power and cruelty.
Dirk Reinartz began his photographic journey as a private
project to convey to his son, born long after the war, the horrific
reality of the past. Anyone who has seen these pictures of the
deathly stillness of these places that were once concentration
camps, the factories of death, can never repress their memory.
Dirk Reinartz, born in 1947 in Aachen, Germany, lives in Buxtehude
near Hamburg. He works as a freelance photographer and has published
several books of photographs. The book containing photographs
from the Totenstill exhibition is his sixth.