Saturday, February 19, 2011

Are we not sad?

In the cartoons of Tom and Jerry, no one ever dies. Sticks of dynamite are forced into orifices, a head is squashed in a sandwich toaster, a piano drops from on high, but no one ever dies. Tom may ascend with harps and angles but we can be sure that he will miraculously return to continue the endless struggle, to strategize, run and endure. There is no moment of recess, of consideration or stasis where we might engage in the contemplation of their hectic existence or their final end. But then this was not intended as some ontological platform, for a few moments the reality of existence is suspended and we laugh as his tail catches in the mangle that slowly reels him in.

The essence of this humor is evident within Mobius Circle. At times Opdøl hints towards a Hanna - Barberaesque reflection on mortality as contrast to the realism with which she renders the stark process of life and death. A comedic cultural reference, as salve to the elephant in the room. This consideration may be a product of distance from her home country, as it finds many parallels in the Scandinavian sense of humor and it’s morbidly, beautiful myth. A region where Trolls with a fondness for pet bears and the company of princesses, will also rape and consume human flesh. Opdøl’s cultural identity and experience is ever present in her practice, as she plainly states in the accompanying text, “growing up on a farm, life and death is an everyday occurrence”. This is not to say that the work is devoid of sympathy. The presence of humor is scant but generous, a recognition of it as a human device for coping and continuing. The treatment of the drawn subjects is imbued with an obsessive empathy, each hair, each feather, still resonates past breath. At times, it seems that the presentation of these chosen animals in their new, much extended life as art, is a gift that alludes towards the religious beliefs that support our ability to live with what we know.

This collection of works at Place employs several art disciplines ranging from installation, bronze casting and drawing, to Opdøl’s first use of video documentation. It is an evolving process wrestling with ethereal substance. The title stretches further into the intangible by engaging with mathematical theory, referencing the peculiarities of the Mobius strip, which can be described as a continuous, non-orientable band. It has a very curious property, if a line is drawn from the seam down the middle to meet back at the same seam, it will somehow always end up at the "other side".

Paul Murnaghan

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