NOoSPHERE Arts in New York are proud to represent Fractured Lives/ Fragile Existences, curated by the esteemed Feng Boyi, Wang Dong and Bjørn Inge Follevaag and featuring the artists Æsa Björk (Iceland/Norway), Øyvind Johnsen (Norway), Gaby Steiner (Switzerland), and Liang Dantu (China).
So much in our lives depends on belonging. On being included and being seen. Being seen; as in being accepted and approved of by our peers, societies and cultures. Yet, this approval and sense of belonging are fragile elements – so easily disturbed or eviscerated by sudden and unforeseen outside factors like prejudice, intolerance or ignorance. This exhibition deals with some of these issues on a personal as well as a political level.
In our curatorial practices, we have always been fascinated by the storytellers. By building exhibitions in which the viewer may come out with a sense of having experienced something significant. Whether this ambition has been reached in the current exhibition remains to be seen. We have tried to avoid “artspeak”, the artificial language of the art world, because it doesn’t speak, it alienates. The message in this exhibition is no high-‐brow statement to promote the curators’ intellectual superiority, but rather a quiet statement about the condition of things, and an appeal to listen and see.
PASS OVER by the Norwegian artist Øyvind Johnsen is a 30-‐minute video based on the true story of a Jewish/German couple from the 1890’s. Nelly Hamburger and her German boyfriend Hans Grüner were not permitted by their respective parents to marry, so they eloped. They fled to Norway and spent one long fall together at Stalheim Hotel in Voss. This is also where they committed joint suicide. Nelly survived, but nobody knows what happened to her later in life. In this work, Johnsen talks about pain – about existential suffering, and of what could have been if prejudice and conformity had not stood in the way.
In her series of works titled Impressions, the Icelandic/Norwegian artist Æsa Björk discusses the boundaries of the body and the borders of trust. Æsa Björk talks about that which is, by way of a fragile, naked body in a glass coffin weighed down by hundreds of heavy glass marbles; a poetic comment on the traces life leaves on our bodies and the boundaries we use to protect it.
In her biographical video The Arthodox: the Freedom of Choosing Restriction about the New York artist Efroim Snyder, Swiss-‐born Gaby Steiner describes the conscious choice of an artist within the contemporary field to embrace traditional faith and its paraphernalia, and the dilemmas involved in this transition from a so-‐called modern lifestyle to committing to what many perceive as an old-‐fashioned and archaic way of life.
Chinese-‐born artist Liang Dantu talks about recreation and reincarnation in her surreal, but strongly compelling paintings. While they may appear as simple narratives at first glance, the works are laden with symbolism. Elements of fauna and flora are conscious observations of life’s fragility and a statement to the artist’s desire to protect and preserve all living things.