GARDAR EIDE EINARSSON / “POPULATION ONE” / 09.11.-09.12.2006 / STANDARD (OSLO)
GARDAR EIDE EINARSSON
09.11.-09.12.2006 / Opening: Thursday 09.11.2006 / 19.00-21.00 /
STANDARD (OSLO) is pleased to announce its first solo exhibition with the Norwegian artist Gardar Eide Einarsson. Entitled "Population One" the exhibition builds on Einarsson's discussion of 'the outlaw' and in relation to this notions of opposition and transgression. Examining the political paranoia of American right wing movements, Einarsson's works take their points of departure from such sources as Russian prison tattoos, the comic book "Judge Dredd" and a confiscated forged driver's license.
"Issued by the Kingdom of Heaven". The announcement made in Gardar Eide Einarsson's photographic work "Untitled (Driver's License)" addresses the core issue of his exhibition "Population One": the notion of individual freedom achieved by means of detachment from government and its laws. The quote appears on a forged driver's license confiscated by American police from of a member of the Montana Freemen. Drawing on Montana's rural history and an eager Christian patriotism, this militia group was actively working to separate Montana from the federal government and to establish its own political-cultural model during the 1990s. Forgeries such as the above mentioned belonged to a parallel system of government, banking and currency established to undermine government control – supported by the argument that "my fraud is as good as your fraud". A similar emblem of resistance is offered in the work "Sticker", where a large-scale inkjet print on plywood renders a bumper sticker aggressively declaring the rights of the driver in the event of an arrest. The insistence on individual sovereignty is here equaled by a paranoid relationship to authority, both mimicking and distorting the words of Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862): "Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves."
Thoreau provides the prospect of a just and triumphant outlaw, and reminds one of the significance of civil disobedience to the concept of individual freedom and to the history of American independence. The same schism of "little man versus big state" that laid the foundation for the Boston Tea Party (1773) can be seen as the ideological driving force behind more recent events such as the Montana Freemen 81 day long standoff in Jordan, Montana (1996). Looking into these recent events and their ideological sources of inspiration, "Population One" identifies an iconography of a political paranoia. A police barrier is displayed leaning up against the wall; a large-scale inkjet print on plywood renders an oath pledged to a secret brotherhood; a framed inkjet print depicts a police helicopter hovering above; five baseball caps are displayed on a shelf where the letters 'FBI' have been replaced by 'ZOG' – making reference to one of the ultimate conspiracy theories of these right wing groups: "Zionist Occupational Government". In addition to these are also three speech bubbles – silkscreen prints on steel plates – from the comic book "Judge Dredd". Set against the dystopic and gigantic Mega-City of 2099 the comic book portrays modern life as inhuman and undemocratic where uniformed judges combine the powers of police, judiciary and government.
"I let myself be taken. The better to get straight to the seat of authority. For I sensed that here I might find what I sought". The quote from one of these speech bubbles resonates with the Einarsson's only painting in the exhibition – a white butterfly-like form against a black background. The motif derives from a Russian prison tattoo, placed on one's finger to signal to fellow inmates and prison wardens "I would never shake the hand of a policeman". Like the forged driver's license it serves as an emblem of negation of community and more specifically an opposition to the power monopoly of the state. Adding to the painting are spills and drippings of black paint. What seemingly is the result of an energetic work process is in fact carefully and meticulously positioned during post-production. The notion of a moral transgression ('outlaw') is here fused with the mimicking of artistic transgression ('the avant-garde'). As with Einarsson's early graffiti-like wall paintings this results in a simulation of a rebellious gesture that also complicates the position of the artist in the context of institutional critique. If "Population One" addresses an opposition for complete individual freedom that is bound to fail, it also marks the limits of the artist's possibilities. As claimed by critic Ina Blom: "In fact, this kind of work seems to highlight the vast continuity of stylistic phenomena as the point of negotiation between an art system continually creating or reflecting on social spaces, and aestheticized social spaces that operate in more or less complete independence from the system of art." (Ina Blom: "A Problem of Style: Art vs. Subculture – On the work of Gardar Eide Einarsson", 2004).
Einarsson's discussion ultimately addresses the complete failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behavior. The framed inkjet print, "Hard Luck", is based on a found photograph of the American mass murderer William Cook, also known as Billy Boy. The image depicts his left hand where the words "H-A-R-D L-U-C-K" are tattooed. Individual sovereignty has here long since left the domain of human values echoing the above mentioned Judge Dredd's frequently used phrase: "I am the Law". Cook adds to the ever-expanding gallery of assassins, murderers and homegrown American terrorists in Einarsson's works. Among these are historical figures such as the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and the Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh – representations of a "tragic ideal of individualism" according to the artist. Like the McVeigh's statement at the execution Cook's last word – "I hate everybody's guts!" – has what Einarsson describes as a "pathetic quality" to it, but nevertheless serves a purpose in nurturing the mythology of the outlaw. Contradicting this mythology is the deadpan comical comment offered in the last work of Einarsson. A copy of the 1952 edition of the book "Problems In American Civilization", written by Franklin D. Roosevelt and the American Supreme Court, is framed and glassed – leaving its cover page as the only statement. The artist found this copy on the street outside his building in New York. Beaten up and with pages stuck together because of water damage it possesses an involuntarily commentary capacity.
Gardar Eide Einarsson (b. 1976, Oslo) lives and works in New York. His most recent exhibitions include the Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul (2005) and group exhibitions at The Wrong Gallery for the Whitney Biennial, New York (2006); Kunsthalle Bern, Bern (2006); Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich (2006); and Witte de With, Rotterdam (2006). During the exhibition period his work can also be seen in exhibitions such as "Defamation of Character" at PS1 MoMA, New York, and in a two-person exhibition with Banks Violette at Gallery.Sora, Tokyo. STANDARD (OSLO) is also pleased to announce that Einarsson will have a solo exhibition at Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt am Main, opening in June 2007.
For further information please visit our webpage: www.standardoslo.no or contact Eivind Furnesvik at firstname.lastname@example.org or +47 917 07 429 / +47 22 60 13 10. STANDARD (OSLO) is open Tuesday-Friday: 12.00-17.00 / Saturday-Sunday: 12.00-16.00.
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