“Sunbathers”

Sunbathers
David Douard, S1CK 54LIVA, 2013, image: 1857

In Oslo, summer is full-on, accompanied by the hedonistic joys brought on by a tenacious sun that hardly ever sets. A current exhibition at 1857, heralded by a press release remarking, “Everything is more pleasant now that it is warm outside,” features the title “Sunbathers,” which may call to mind Morrissey’s mope-rock lyrics on the subject: “Nothing appears to be between the ears of the lazy sunbathers / Too jaded to question stagnation / The sun burns through to the planet‘s core / And it isn’t enough, they want more.” This exhibition brings an intensity akin to a sky aflame.

The Latin root of “vacation” is vacare, which means “to be empty.” Yet the voids of summertime can be replenishing, unfolding possibilities to realize untapped potential. The high-ceilinged room of 1857 beckons to the imagination, since its unfinished area can be altered to serve numerous functions, as do the multivalent artworks, which largely lean in two directions: Adele Röder’s Untitled, 2013, and its ilk display the human figure in a nostalgic, visceral manner, whereas David Douard’s S1CK 54LIVA, 2013, and Aude Pariset’s Hosted as Seen on Screen / Ultrasport Klappstuhl, 2013, appear futuristic and mechanized. Camilla Wills presents a variety of works, all with the same title—Psychic cabaret and crudités, 2013—including a video with text overlay, a pastel-hued silk-screen print, and a synthetic banner displaying a trio of feminine figures. These energetic media infiltrate the space, breeding curious thinking and moxie.

The exhibition features four artists who can claim Norway as neither their country of birth nor their site of residence and practice. In general, artistic investigations into immigration and colonization have increased in Scandinavia; much art being made here takes up the relationship between an immigrant artist’s citizenship or residency status and his or her work. And while, in most shows, emphasis is placed on work, production, and distribution, “Sunbathers” highlights a conscious shift toward leisure. Its introspective pause is progressive and charming.
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