Predicting Future Art: Can introducing an idea make it happen?
By Hans Bjelkhagen
Introduction by J.D. Trolinger, WWT
The current trend in much of the art world is to produce something completely unlike anything any other artist has done, call it a new style, then convince someone that it is profound and that it will grow in value because of its uniqueness. Already famous artists work this gimmick over and over. Not so famous artists can pull it off if they can stir up enough publicity to make themselves a household word. Or if they can find a sponsor who is convinced he can make money by buying the work, hyping the artist and then inflating the prices, a kind of pyramid scheme is formed. Because publicity is a key element, the process can get unbelievably outrageous, since controversy is probably the easiest way to get publicity. So we wind up with elephant-dung-Madonnas and crosses in buckets of urine, a sure-fire way to stir up publicity. With a little imagination one might predict some of the art forms that these guys are going to introduce, for example, by extrapolating current art ideas into extremes.
Fourteen years ago, Hans Bjelkhagen did just that in a satire on art and culture that he created. He extended the idea of minimalism to its extreme. Minimalist artists had moved successfully from crude figures to stick figures to a few lines and finally to blank canvases. In his satire Hans extrapolated this to the idea that one can consider a blank wall declared by the artist to be art to, indeed, be legitimate art. What began as an outrageous and funny satire on art, however, ended up as a foretelling of a real event.
Hans has contributed his satire and a news article that shows his satire becoming reality and news 13 years later. One may next ask the question, “Is the wall necessary?” I hope you enjoy Hans’ contribution as much as I did.
Art and Culture
The New Exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm
The Empty Walls by Inge Mörker
Written and translated from the fictitious satirical story in Gårdagens Nyheter composed March 1993, by Professor H.Bjelkhagen.
Inge Mörker and all the other characters in this story are entirely fictitious and no such exhibition took place at the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm, Sweden.
In response to recent criticism reflecting the way contemporary art is featured by the Museum of Modern Art, the museum have promoted a very controversial and promising new Swedish artist : Inge Mörker with the exhibition The Empty Walls – an exhibition displaying absolutely nothing. GN (Yesterday’s News) met Henrietta Paletta, the museum curator responsible for this exhibition. She said “In the past, we have not been able to show everything that we wanted, due to financial problems with which we have struggled in the last few years. Therefore it is a great pleasure to be to able to open this exhibition. It has been very inexpensive to install because there were no shipping, installation, insurance or security expenses. In addition there was almost no cost associated with the exhibition catalogue, as it consists of only one page with the name of the artist and exhibition. In fact the main costs were to produce the poster, additional advertising and the opening preview. The exhibition will be running for one year, we are anticipating record numbers of visitors which guarantees the show will be a financial success” remarked the curator, “Also no-one can any longer accuse us for being out of touch with contemporary art.”
“Already the interest for this exhibition has been tremendous and the museum has had many satisfied visitors. For example, I can mention that a group of Japanese tourists, who recently visited the exhibition, told me that they had never experienced anything like this ever before, either in Japan or throughout the world. They have taken photographs and recorded videos of our empty walls as if they were crazy. Another visitor, an elderly lady from Östermalm in Stockholm, expressed that it was refreshing to see art free of erotica and other nonsense that many other artists are devoted to nowadays. An art student told me, when leaving the museum, that this was the first time he had been to an art exhibition at which he had been able to see absolutely everything and not miss a single detail. There was another visitor, who wishes to remain anonymous, who explained that after spending many hours here, it finally had dawned on him what artists want to express through their work, and he felt that he had only just begun to understand art. Then one feels very satisfied that the work to arrange the exhibition is not wasted time” continued Henrietta Paletta. “Families with children have particularly enjoyed the exhibition since they don’t have to worry that the children will touch or damage anything in it,” curator Paletta pointed out.
“The artist himself Inge Mörker, recipient of last years top Art Grant, rarely discusses his work. He thinks we inhabit an imaginary world. In principal there is absolutely nothing, everything is only emptiness and darkness, according to Mörker, it’s an empty universe without galaxies, stars or solar systems, even less any life. We only imagine that we are alive and that there is anything to experience. This is what he wants to express through his art, which according to unanimous and enthusiastic art critics, he has succeeded very well with. Therefore his recognition has increased significantly of late, and the reason why he received last years top Art Grant Award,” explained curator Paletta. “The money he received has made it possible for him to realise his ideas, which has resulted in this fantastic exhibition.”
“Interest from abroad for his art has also been overwhelming. The great art museums around the world compete to be able to get this exhibition transferred to their galleries when it’s finished here,” concluded curator Paletta.
© 2006 H Bjelkhagen
The Real Event
Art exhibition shows bare gallery
An artist has been given a grant to put on an exhibition consisting of nothing but an empty gallery.
Simon Pope, 40, said the aim was to encourage people to walk around the empty rooms and discuss memories of other galleries.
He said the work in Cardiff's Chapter Arts Centre divided opinion, but some visitors had "got a lot out of it".
It has been funded by the Arts Council of Wales and the Sciart Wellcome Trust, a charity promoting art and science.
Pope, who represented Wales at the Venice Biennale art festival in 2003, said: "You can simplify the context and ignore my intentions, but there are also people who know the work and see it in an informed way.
"Obviously, there's a split reaction. There are those who love it and those who wonder why I've done it.
"There are three distinct audiences: the people I've worked with in Chapter over the last few weeks, those who come to the event who know the wider context and don't trivialise the work, and people who have no idea what's in here.
The exhibition, Gallery Space Recall, benefited from a portion of £50,000 funding given to Chapter by the Arts Council of Wales (ACW).
"If you read the comments in the visitors' book, even people I wouldn't expect to understand the full context have got a lot out of it."
The ACW said the money was for a 12-month programme of arts activity, of which Simon Pope's solo exhibition formed a "small part".
"Chapter has proved to be a key venue in terms of delivering new, sometimes controversial, but always thought-provoking work to an exceptionally high standard," said the ACW.
"The ACW welcomes the gallery's role in stimulating and promoting critical debate around the arts in Wales."
A Chapter spokeswoman said: "We set agendas, we don't follow them".
She said participants in the exhibition could perform "a seemingly impossible feat: summoning up remote spaces - through memory, body, speech and movement - reduplicating these spaces, so that they exist at two locations simultaneously."