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Johan Söderström

#296 Turned Table - Wishing Well

by

Johan Söderström

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#296 Turned Table - Wishing Well by Johan Söderström
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#296 Turned Table - Wishing Well

by

Johan Söderström

US$ 1,300

Overview

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2020

Filler on board, oak frame

Unique Work

Dimensions: 84cm (H) x 64cm (W) x 5cm (D) / 33.1" (H) x 25.2" (W) x 2" (D)

Note: Actual colours may vary due to photography & computer settings.

Artist Statement

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64 (W) x84 (H) cm | Filler, oak frame

This work was produced through the TABLES Wishing Well event during the opening of the exhibition Shadow Government at Husby Konsthall outside Stockholm. TABLES is a series of participatory art projects where the visitors are invited to make different types of tracks in the wet filler in a frame standing like a table on the floor. The table is left as sculptural documentation of the event during the exhibition, and afterwards, I complete the work in my studio. In this version, I instructed the participants to place small, round and perforated wooden chips in the filler. These had the same diameter as a human eye. Eyes was a consistent form in several of the works in the exhibition, which was about the experience of when what appears to be a natural order is, in fact, controlled by hidden forces. That is, about the relationship between power and visibility, about surveillance, about the desire for - but also to avoid - seeing and being seen.

The work is based on two different references, partly what is in the title - a wishing well. A desire to appease fate with a simple symbolic but still material sacrifice. A gesture that points to a belief in invisible forces beyond the subject's control. The second reference is another well with a somewhat overlapping function, namely Mimir's well from Norse mythology. The well was located at one of the roots of Yggdrasil, the tree of the world, and Mimir gained his great wisdom by drinking from it. Odin sacrificed one eye in the well and could thus see everything that was going on in the world. Like Odin, the modern man has gained a window into his world through news channels, the internet and social media. We see everything that happens but are also seen and exposed, both directly and indirectly. Perhaps we can see it as a version of Michel Foucault's panopticon, the internalised gaze of power that kept the subject in check within normalcy. Now the surveillance is externalised again, but instead, it is us who monitor and confirm each other. Maybe where we before desired to be seen by God through confession and prayer, we today desire to be seen by what psychoanalytic theory describes as the Big Other, the unreachable state of other people, society and language as such, in short - the symbolic order.

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Artist Profile

Born: 1969

Hometown: Stockholm

Based in: Oslo

I am interested in process-based painting and the profound human solitude. While exploring one thing, I sometimes try to formulate something about the other.

My work is made from construction filler in oak frames. I have developed a unique technique, where I insert 6 mm thick layers of grey and white filler into the frame like intarsia, instead of on top of each other as in conventional painting. The result gives a graphic expression that at the same time has tactile materiality. I use some simple but clearly defined methods to apply the filler in the frame. These limit the expression of cognitively controlled processes, thus opening an opportunity to reveal something unknown.

They often take the form of series or installations that extend into the room.

I base my work on the notion of a primary alienation in the human subject. By using painting, I want to formulate something around this lack, or the desire, integrated into our perception of reality. I want to explore whether the problem can illuminate other forms of social and cultural alienation—for example, privileges, class, racism and xenophobia. In short, different types of distances between people.

I have previously shown works in Scandinavia at Konsthallen Trollhättan, Konsthallen Lokstallet, Konstepidemin, Kristiansands Konsthall, Akershus Kunstsenter, Trondheim Senter for Samtidskunst och Tenthaus Oslo. I am educated in Norway at Kunstakademiet in Trondheim and live and work in Oslo.

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