Odin Austefjord’s Knekt Knackt
Vernissage 02.02. 18 - 22
2-19 February 2024
Halfdan Kjerulfsgate 4, 5017, Bergen.
Opening Hours: 1-5 pm Saturdays and Sundays or by appointment
Curated by Michael Laundry
Odin Austefjord’s new exhibition at MLAG allows Norwegian wood to tell its own story with its own voice. The interdisciplinary sculpture and sound art project concerns different species of wood types and their constituent structures. The sonic works for the exhibition look to the musicality of fibers in the trunk, and the unique tone and timbre signatures. The five types of wood used are Ash, Aspen, Pine, Birch and Spruce. The process of creating the sonic scape in the gallery to accompany the sculptures uses the force of a one hundred tonne hydraulic press forcing the trees to the breaking point. The artist calibrates the machine to snap the wood but preserve just enough structural integrity for the sculptures to stand on its own. The resulting broken trunks are a visual reminder of the artist’s search for nature's ability to transcend sonic ecotones and as a gesture meant to signal our fragile relationship to nature, as well as an ecocritical position of the market’s use of nature. The artist says, “when I break the tree, I have removed it from being valuable within the lumber industry”. The artist conscientiously asks what it means to put the trees into the ecosystem of the art market instead. The artistic effectively makes a postmodern shift from the productive economy to the symbolic one.
Austefjord’s Knekt Knackt is an artistic research project in which the sonic recordings of the individuated timber experiments contemplate the laws of nature and the points at which their power can be challenged or broken using technology. At the project’s core is sonic research on the poetics of what might be termed “forest acoustics”. The poetic essence of the research may be understood as a romantic longing for what William Wordsworth described in, The Sublime and the Beautiful (1811), as “the law of sublimity”. For Wordsworth, nature has qualities both beautiful, inspiring love and passion, and the sublime as inspiring terror and awe. Austefjord’s new exhibition at MLAG searches for an aesthetic language where the sublimity of timber’s destruction informs a syntax and register unique to the species of wood investigated. Austefjord’s artistic positioning on the role of the human capacity for listening to wood is a posthumanist phenomenological position. This project acknowledges the essence of wood’s own communicative strategies, inverting or leveling any hierarchical sonic privileges between man and nature.
Knekt Knackt looks at the emancipatory potential of the human relationship to nature. This year’s curatorial theme at the gallery examines EMANCIPATORY PRACTICES from multiple perspectives. Austefjord relies upon multi-media installation in equal parts to sculptural elements finding a distinctive approach to being in nature and being part of the sublime.
While the trees may appear similar to us, the artist’s experience working with wood over a lifetime in art, furniture production and various carpentry tasks, means that the artist sees each tree as a unique life form. If the wood could speak, then the artist becomes a conductor raising the pitch and intensity in a choral frenzy. The artist sees the work as a kind of personal and ecological examination of the relationship between destruction, liberation and voice.
Curated by Michael Laundry
Supported by the City of Bergen