- an exhibition about science fiction, humanism, and contemporary loneliness in glass.
The 30th of April 2021, S12 Gallery and Workshop is proud to open our new exhibition entitled 1het/1somhet (Unit/Loneliness). In this we want to show works by artists related to S12 who in very different ways use professional skills and digital tools in the face of abstraction, open-ended questions and unknown territories.
Art is science backwards. Where academia selects an object to dissect in order to study its individual components, art does the opposite. A new whole emerges by a series of fragments, from which new beauty and new sustainable content is created.
In this exhibition, we want to promote artists who both master the traditional craft of a thousand year old discipline, while at the same time participating in the purely visionary through active interest in, and application of new technologies.
Overall, the exhibition investigates the relationship between contemporary loneliness in all our accumulated integrity and uncertain bonds in new interfaces. The individual works of art explore how we as individuals, and through our carefully crafted individuality, nevertheless form part of an expanded dialogue in the site specific and geographical, in the experienced or emotional and in the physical, embodied. All the works seek either to reveal these relationships, or to establish them.
Main exhibitors will be Canadian Timothy Belliveau and Icelandic Æsa Björk. Both are affiliated with S12 Gallery and Workshop on a regular basis, and have worked together through large parts of the difficult Covid epidemic. Nevertheless, they are also very different.
Other artists who will be represented in the exhibition with works from our unique collection will be: Ida Wieth, Verena Schatz, Ingrid Nord and Emma Baker.
As an artist Timothy Belliveau primarily works with glass, ceramics and 3D-software. He combines through these materials and methods handmade sculptural elements with prints, formats and reproductions made at the computer. His interests lie both in the classical roots of the art of glassblowing, all the way back to the greco-roman tradition, and within the very latest and contemporary.
As a craftsman he stands on the shoulders of the several thousand year old tradition that glass blowing represents, in respect and admiration for the capacity to create beauty that surpasses the sum of its parts. Silicon and sand become a vessel. As an artist, however, he also uses new tools and establishes new formats in his search for meaning.
The process is therefore reciprocal. Timothy Belliveau works simultaneously with a steady hand in the traditional and with exploratory improvisation in the innovative.
This could have been an email
In the workshop the artist makes elegant objects that are impressive in their own right. Flower vases, for example, and why not. Attractive elliptical articles to behold. His colors are brilliant and characteristic. In order to understand them better, or for the mere fun of it, and by way of adding content to his pieces beyond the mere functional or pleasing, he later introduces these individual artworks into maquettes that resemble utopian cityscapes. The proportions are distorted. Turned upside down the beautiful vase all of a sudden becomes an architectural component in a futuristic urban plan, as we used to see them imagined in the movies. Along the same lines we find Timothy Belliveau’s delicately crafted vessels and glass art photoshopped in to non existing digitally manipulated and slightly surreal interiors or garden motifs, that will never even come to exist other than as an alluring photo in a magazine, at instagram, or as an aspiration for a better life for the gullible few.
‘This Could Have Been an Email’ refers to a common feeling particularly during the last year in which we meet less and use online content more. It questions what we need to be physically present for, which we ask in daily work, in new age wellness, and increasingly in the visual arts. Reference to science fiction worlds spin out of this question – if more things become digital what will the world look like?
It is as if the artist in his craft has found the source to an inexplicable wealth not compatible with any contemporary currency, and as such inconvertible. The creativity in this framework seems inevitably assembled or staged, as if the artist is expressing a loss, or a sense of bereavement. Studying the many unique and astonishing objects of art through history, we find that they all carry the same testimony. Our ability to create far exceeds what we otherwise achieve in our lives or as a society, where we often fail and leave a trail of disarray behind. It is at the same time encouraging to contemplate that the noble tradition of the art of glassblowing undertakes the responsibility as construction beams and acts as skyscrapers in Timothy Belliveaus utopian city plans and virtual surroundings. As if he integrates our artistic capability as an inherent hope into the fictitious core.
He is similarly inspired by nostalgic scenes of science fiction, and by the stacks of healing crystals and beautiful, polygonal rocks that pile up in the stalls at alternative lifestyle fairs. They are in themselves, and by their extraterrestrial shapes and colours attractive. We also invest our secret expectations in them. Perhaps not so much in the hope of love, or improved health overnight, but for being fragments of a larger context we do not always understand.
With the same open minded eagerness, Timothy Belliveau immerses himself in the possibilities that contemporary digital programs and brand new three-dimensional print versions offer his multiple millenium year old professional expertise. Since the machinery does not recognize the tradition as its own, the result has so far been inadequate, in a technologically modified and standardized aesthetic we know as an identity marker for our own time. But new tools also create new geometry, new characters in a new syllabus, and consequently new forms of understanding.
Timothy Belliveau bridges in glass and print our historical and future art traditions in search of his own content as heir, designer and explorer.
He personally draws inspiration from artists such as Virginia Lee Montgomery, Simon Starling and Takeshi Murata.
It is also relevant to compare him to Samuel Beckett. In all their inherent beauty and claim to art, the unique and individual objects all appear as left behind, waiting for a new context.
Æsa Björk is Icelandic, but has lived and worked in Norway since 1997. In addition to being one of the founding members, and the heart and soul of S12 Gallery and Workshop ever since the opening in 2007, she has throughout her career also made a name for herself as a unique and sought after artist. In her particular artistic techniques, she is without a doubt an international reference. In 2018, she won the jury’s first prize and main award in connection with the very prestigious exhibition Toyama International Glass Exhibition, in Toyama, Japan. In 2019, Æsa Björk participated in the group exhibition Diversity for Peace during the international art biennial in Venice through the famous Karuizawa New Art Museum’s event in the city. As of 2020, she was granted a ten-year work grant from the Norwegian Arts Council. During the autumn of 2021, she will participate with new work in the renowned exhibition Passage @ The Byres, in Scotland, and she is also planning a solo exhibition in the Shanghai Museum of Glass, which will open in 2022.
Æsa Björk mostly works with larger glass objects, which she often integrates into complex installations and contexts. Many of her works are based on scientific physiological and clinical studies. Combining glass and video, she has in previous works expressed different ways of experiencing time, as in constant states of mind throughout the span of a life, or passing moments that only leave a shred of posterity behind it’s flicker. Although her art is made of glass, her most important material is the human. Through various approaches, she studies our anatomy to understand how we are assembled, and how we truly are. Many of her works are also modelled on herself.
In the renowned British artist Damien Hirst’s famous work Mother and Child (divided) from 1993, the superstar literally shows a cross section of an entire cow and her calf soaked in formaldehyde in four separate acrylic and steel tanks. To what extent is this work really about the cow and the calf?
Æsa Björk’s composite work Fractures, from 2017 shows a three-dimensional scan of a woman’s body lying on her knees and reproduced in glass. The artwork with its two units consists of a sculpture showing fragments of a body with its skeleton held up, and together in a delicate framework, and a picture reminiscent of an X-ray photo of the kneeling woman. In this image we also see a series of parallel lines that divides the woman’s anatomy into 31 vertical sections.
Hirst and Björk have something in common. Both Mother and Child (divided) and Fractures are two apparent clinical studies displayed through representations that we might expect to find in a natural history science museum, rather than in an art gallery. Both artists aspire to see through, or even penetrate their objects. But where Hirst’s study of the cow and the calf in formaldehyde is interpreted metaphorically, about mother and child relationships within a Catholic understanding, Æsa Björk’s self-portrait in glass and fragments speaks directly to us, and about us.
What does her art consist of? Observing the image, we immediately establish an understanding of a woman’s body. Although we read this as if it was a printout, through all the dividers that cut through her vertically and without regard to the curves and shapes of the human body, we see her as a whole. In these individual fields we become aware of the transitions, from one part of the body to another. This is how we are assembled. We are complex. Upon closer inspection, we also find a myriad of small fragments and intersecting lines in the surface of the glass, that form polygonal structures in a subtle network covering the entire female body. As if we studied her skin cells up close. These thin, fragile lines on the surface tie her together in an impossible puzzle. At the same time, they leave fine scratches in the surface of the glass as nerves in a cobweb, like stitches in a yarn, or traces of a fingerprint. This makes her different. Like everyone else, but not like others.
In the sculpture we find elements of glass modeled to represent fragments of a body with its rib cage and the vertebrae in a spine. They appear, exhibited in such a way, as abstract elements of a larger but absent sculpture. Looking for the missing parts, we become aware of the so-called negative space around them. A subtle scaffolding of interconnected, horizontal and vertical transparent glass tubes, carries the fragments of bone, as if they were free standing, or floating in thin air. The network of glass and rods reminds us of the schematic fields that also divide the image into its sections. We can similarly in the sculpture study the individual components of what we recognize as the very core of our own constitution. The skeleton. The glass tubes with their junctions, like the lines and fields in the image, assume their own beauty and convey an almost invisible, yet sophisticated distribution of function in mobility and support. As if it could not have been assembled in any other way.
It is the overwhelming strength of fragility we celebrate in Æsa Björk’s art. The kneeling female body with its bones and curves could be anyone. In art we see her as a human being. The sculpture as the image shows us how our individual limbs and constituents intertwine and find support through an almost invisible dialogue consisting of impossible combinations at the interface between intersecting lines. This is how we all are, and interact, between ourselves. We meet in this field.
In this way, Æsa Björk also approaches the humanism of the Renaissance, where she positions us at the very center of an in-depth study, in order to find a greater truth in our own image. As Leonardo did.
S12 editor: Written in May 2021.