Tuesday, 12 February 2013

What Is Art?

Today I had an appointment for a haircut (and no, my hairstyle really has nothing to do with the question!). Afterwards I decided to pop into the Art Museum, which happens to be nearby. I hadn’t got a clue what they were showing at the moment, I just found myself in the mood to do something Cultural. If nothing else it will give me something to say when people ask what I’ve been up to lately. (How is it that having wandered around one strange Art Exhibition always seems to count for more than having read a dozen good books in the comfort of one’s own home?)

The main exhibition going on at the moment turned out to be by Bo Christian Larsson. Not sure I ever heard of him before. Now I know he is a Swedish artist (born 1976) who works mostly with large-sized drawings, installations, performances and objects. The current exhibition is entitled Falling Down Redux.

Realizing that I didn’t have the slightest clue what I’d be looking at, I grabbed a brochure at the entrance. It links the title to a Hollywood movie I’ve never seen. Great help! (not) … It also mentioned Strindberg’s Inferno and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Hmmm, okay. Not much cheerfulness to be expected, then…

I hadn’t brought my camera but I had my mobile.



Nice little wooden house with picket fence, at closer look all burnt out inside.


This is one of those exhibitions which leads you through narrow passages with various sounds in the background and video-screens here and there to enhance the experience. Wooden planks, potted palm trees, screeching bird sounds, and sacks hanging from gallows here and there… What do you make of it?


Having got this far there’s not much doubt about a certain ship-wrecked atmosphere.


The wooden sculpture has pirate-shape and is half-swept in sail-cloth. Why there are so many brass bells hanging on him I’m not sure. Signifying the passing of time perhaps…?


This was the one piece I really took to… Looking at the “map” from the exhibition I think it’s entitled The Hotel. My own mind went straight to the expression “living out of a suitcase” (“to stay very briefly in several places, never unpacking one's luggage”)


This one (‘ship in distress’) more or less summed up the theme for me: Shipwrecked civilization.


The performance video in the background here showed the artist (I suppose) dragging this huge, extremely heavy doll of sackcloth filled with I-don’t-know-what around in an empty old castle… (Title: Dragdoll…) I’m thinking “deadweight”…? not even sure what that means. (Wiki to the rescue: “Deadweight tonnage is a measure of how much weight a ship is carrying or can safely carry.”)

(I’ve been watching seasons 1 and 2 of the classic British TV series The Onedin Line just recently…)

After abandoning the sunken ship, I also went upstairs to the 2nd floor. A sign downstairs seemed to be indicating an ongoing exihbition there to do with dreams. When I got up there, I was met by something of a chaos, with most of the paintings just leaning against the walls, or lying flat on the floor; and some sculpture-thingys spread out here and there, in among tools and wrapping-plastic…


Looking closer at some of the paintings, they too were depicting a sort of chaos:


Struggling to find context and meaning, I strolled on into the next room… which looked much the same. In a far corner, though, there was also a live long-haired guy carrying a painting, and looking my way.

Man: ‘Hello?’ (the questionmark was audible)
‘Er… Are you hanging a new exhibition here?’
Man: ‘Yes. We’re opening on Friday. You’re welcome back then.’
(biting my lip trying not to laugh): ‘Oh. Sometimes it’s not easy to tell…’

After which I retreated back downstairs, thinking to myself: ‘Did I actually say that out loud?!’

Back home, I’m looking for information on the museum’s webpage about the new exhibition to be opened on Friday. I can’t find any mention of it. The dream-related one is supposed to still be going on…


  1. i had no idea they had art museums in the twilight zone.. weird, strange, odd come to mind...

    1. It was indeed a somewhat surreal experience.


  2. Boy my idea of "ART" is so small...I know what I like, and I know what I don't, and 90% of your pictures, just don't get me excited about Art. HaHa, I sure did get a chuckle with your conversation with the old gentleman. Well, you certainly have a good answer for "What did you do today6?"

    1. Wanda, I prefer the more uplifting kind of art myself ;) At least these there were some recognizable objects and a theme in this exhibition, and also obvious that there was some thought and work put into it. It beats the 'two brushstrokes on empty canvas and hope to be called genius' kind.

  3. Wow!!!! I read this post with much amusement, since some of what is described as art these days, can certainly blow the mind.
    Aren't you glad that you decided to leave home and view this exhibition? Certainly opened your eyes and your imagination.
    Again I say "Wow!"

    1. Virginia, I appreciate the fact that we have an Art museum and even if I I'm not thrilled with all their exhibitions I like to go every now and again. There have been some over the years that I've enjoyed a lot. Others less...

  4. These are fascinating! I wonder if they are images of the two books? Heart Of Darkness is rather a classic here, though I have never read it. I LOVE the suitcase house!!!! It also has a splendid sense of humor.

    1. I think not just those two; the imagery fits more of similar kind. Inner journeys, restlessness of the soul, struggle with sanity and meaning of life, depression... I have to say not my favourite kind of art. Possibly good therapy for the artist, though. At least this exhibit gave me some clues about what it was supposed to represent. Not all installation kind of art does that!

  5. A really good post Monica....the post is much better than the exhibition.

    1. Thanks Adrian. Even if the theme of the exhibition wasn't exactly uplifting, at least it was a change to snow and slush and more snow, and I saw no signs forbidding photography ;) And the upstairs part really amused me. I honestly could not tell if it was a new exhibition being prepared, or if it was supposed to be like that!

  6. I love the comment you made - it was exactly what I was thinking as I went along with you into the room! Like you, the suitcase took my fancy. And I actually like that painting.

    1. Scriptor, I'm contemplating whether I should go back and have another look when that upstairs exhibition has been properly hung - hanged? - I can never remember! (especially considering all the gallows downstairs)...

  7. Lovely and interesting post! The pirate-shaped structure intrigued me very much. I imagined small people are inside the suitcase. They travel with the suitcase and stay there. This museum seems to be in the different dimension.
    Have a great week.

  8. Loved the "The Hotel" sculpture! So good that you were able to take pictures; unthinkable in a German museum or gallery where that is strictly forbidden - they want to sell their own exhibition catalogues, of course.

    1. Meike, whether photography is allowed can vary between towns and museums and individual exhibitions. At another exhibition in this museum some years ago, I asked and was told that it was allowed. Since then I take for granted that it is allowed if I don't see a sign saying otherwise. I still try to be discreet and put the camera/mobile on silent and no flash in such places though, not to disturb anyone else's experience.

  9. I really enjoyed looking at this exhibition through your eyes... And as for the 'messy' exhibition upstairs... you are forgiven for thinking it was a real one! I feel very nervous sometimes as to what I'm going to see - the Depressing Art movement seems all over the world now.

  10. Your exhibition is still to open. When we went to the art gallery in Tauranga I missed the exhibition I wanted to see by one day! Unfortunately the main exhibition (there were two) didn't really hold much that grabbed my interest. But then that's art.


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