Jonas Dahlberg - Untitled (Horizontal Sliding) (2000)
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Edition: 5 + 2 AP
The work was showed first time as the Master degree exhibition at Malmö Art Academy. It has since then been prestented at exhibitions at Index gallery in Stockholm and Milch in London, (2001). Pontevedra Biennale (2002) and Centre pour l'image contemporain Geneva (2003) among others.
Built space fascinates Dahlberg, a former architecture student. His moving camera assumes an investigative stance, yet the footage it produces consistently fixes the viewer's attention on blind spots, unknowable spaces where the camera can't probe nor light reach.
In Untitled (Horizontal Sliding), a camera (apparently) tracking horizontally seems to travel through solid walls, revealing a sequence of empty rooms, each giving onto yet more distant spaces. With their high ceilings, paneled dadoes, and polished floors, the rooms were graceful, but also tatty and melancholic--in need of renovation, as a realtor might say.
Appearances, of course, prove deceptive. Dahlberg's sets are architectural models, built to a circular plan, and filmed with a centrally positioned rotating camera--hence the seamless continuity of the installation's footage. What seem to be tracking shots are really ten-minute, 360-degree pans, describing loci that inevitably read as nodes in a labyrinth--a subtly scary one, since its vertical and horizontal extension implies the impossibility of finding an external vantage point. Taking the panopticon as its starring point, Dahlberg's investigation suggests a psychoanalytic appropriation of the panoptic model, revealing the surveying self as itself both self-surveying and vulnerable to surveillance. Might there be hiders in the house, unseen presences behind those half-closed doors and darkened entrances? The camera's full-circle pan becomes readable as a paranoid attempt to watch one's own back.
Production still. Model and plan drawing. Diameter 200 cm.
With the reflexive moment of philosophical thought, Cornelius Castoriadis writes, "Things are no longer simply juxtaposed: the nearest is the furthest, and the forks in the road...have become simultaneous, mutually intersecting. The entrance to the labyrinth is at one of its centers--or rather, we no longer know whether there is a center, what a center is." And Umberto Eco observes that multicursal labyrinths (like Dahlberg's) need no Minotaur, because in them one can make mistakes--the visitor's own errors play the monster's devouring role. Dahlberg's labyrinthine experiment, manipulating categories of interior and exterior, serves as an ambiguous model of the philosophizing psyche, its mood delicately poised between lyrical reverie and creeping paranoia.
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