Thursday

Four New Shows in Stockholm to Recommend

 

During our recent time back in Stockholm we have visited a number of shows. Here are four that Pipe would now like to recommend. All the exhibitions described within this selection, are very different and were enjoyed by us to varying degrees, but in our view they are all still worth going to see.

 

# 22

Astrid Kruse Jensen, Disappearing into the past # 22, 2010-2012

 

The Danish photographer Astrid Kruse Jensen, who is exhibiting at the Wetterling Gallery in Kungsträdgården, displays beautifully emotive, large scale photographs in her show Beauty Will Always Be Disturbed. Due to their processing & printing these images, viewed from a distance almost seem like paintings. Her method of working has given the work a wistful quality and provides them with this painterly effect. She has taken these photographs on old expired Polaroid film and then blown them up, and in some cases to over a meter squared, presenting them in simple, clean deep frames. This conventional, yet effective method of presentation seems appropriate to the work and fits with the space generally.

 

 

# 55

Astrid Kruse Jensen, Disappearing into the past # 55, 2010-2012

 

The melancholic, cinematic nature of the work is more than a little bit indebted to filmmakers like Von Tier, Bergman & Tarkovsky (perhaps the less said about this artist’s film - The House Inside Her, which also features in the show - and its strong association with the latter in my trio of comparisons, the better). Regardless of this however, the work is still highly aesthetically fulfilling and has a type of proposed narrative that intrigues and invites ones own interpretations.

The exhibition runs until March 21st, 2015.

 

Annabelle

Annabelle by Markus Schinwald, 2015, Pigment Print, 140 x 100cm

 

Having represented Austria in 2011 at the Venice Biennale, and as recently as last year, having also had a major solo show at both the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco, in association with SFMOMA, and at the M – Museum Leuven in Belgium, Markus Schinwald now brings his eclectic and often bizarre exhibits to Magasin III.

[The address for Magasin III is: Frihamnsgatan 28, 115 56 Stockholm - link to it on the map]

 

Actuator 2

Actuator 2 by Markus Schinwald, 2015, mixed media sculpture

 

This exhibition inhabits two spaces, across adjoining floors - one on top of the other. We enter through an old wardrobe, which in itself is clearly a loaded metaphor, in the ‘social sphere’, and references some fairly well-known literary works. The first space is surrounded with multiple framed reproductions of various illustrations of 19th century bourgeois individuals. These people all have some sort of intervention to their poses or demeanours however. This gives them a fetistic and ‘freak’ like appearance. Nonetheless, I still can’t help but think of certain commercial illustrations that have become popular in recent times and can be found on stalls in markets, particularly those around London’s East End. The sheer number of prints and this somewhat unfortunate connection, makes this part of the show my least favourable. Nevertheless, in the centre of this room is a far more engaging work. The work Actuator 1-6 are objects that have been made to look like or adapted from old furniture and then mechanically installed and placed in different uniformed formations inside little openings in the wall. These surreal works move, grind and scrape in unison, looking somewhat like Hans Bellmer sculptures that have been given movement. Undoubtedly, the human body is a constant reference here, and how the social and cultural positioning of such natural forms is inspected. An earlier work entitled Curtain has been placed adjacent to Actuator 1-6 in the thin corridor that separates them, and is seemingly out of place in this context. Yet, the subtle, enthralling and slightly sinister nature of this curtain and what might be behind it, balances extremely well with these apparently antique like forms. The curtain is a rich red and has the appearance of faces that look like they may have come from woodcarvings, which have then been imprinted upon the fabric. For me this is most appealing. It has clear theatrical connotations and further adds to the mystique of this formation of pieces.

 

curtain

Curtain, 2006, prints on fabric

 

The level below the first floor of the exhibition is an entirely different experience. This square room is an arena that has white false walls setup all the way round and consists of a number of projections, that utilise these surfaces. Also, on these walls, spread out across the gallery, are a collection of different objects such as paintings, sculptures and protruding and receding shapes that dissect the wall itself but are still uniformly a part of it. The video projections are of people, seemingly life-sized to us the viewers, who appear to be in this space previously, and are interfering and inspecting the walls, various objects, many draws, doors and other hiding places inside these walls. This uncanny sense of both viewing and existing in a place, which is the same as the one you find yourself in but is also fundamentally changed, is unnerving and triggers a strange kind of repressive responsiveness that is difficult to process fully. This work seems profoundly Freudian to me, as it fascinates and alarms in equal measure.

 

Stage Complex_Thomas

Stage Complex (Thomas), 2015, Video, again by Markus Schinwald

 

The exhibition runs until December 13th, 2015.

 

 

Cykeltjuven (Bicycle Thieves), 2015, from Newton’s Bird by Linnéa Jörpeland, bronze, 72 x 207 x 45 cm

 

Lars Bohman Gallery is the site of our next recommendation. The artist whose work features in this exhibition Newton’s Bird, is Linnéa Jörpeland. A native Swede, her work is often playful and humorous, yet has a deeper questioning tone. Our relationship, or certainly the human environment’s, link with animals and their world, is a notable attention in her work here. As a sculptor, most of Jörpeland’s pieces have been cast in bronze and to an extent, seem to have been made in order to alter or question certain perceived notions of the ‘expected’ or different recognisable behaviour within the human-animal world. Like snakes who have swallowed unforeseen objects such as shoes or an entire child’s bike. A further curious work is the halved table supported by the wall, which has a rather gruesome metaphor attached to it. On the table is the sculpture of a cured sausage with a small section cut from one end, placed beside a knife and on chopping board, which have all been arranged there. Its position has been challenged by a dog’s nose though, that just sticks up from the edge. This piece of nose, and end of mouth clearly has been made to be almost exactly the same size as the missing end of the sausage. This sort of provocative, yet still subtly constructed work, is a feature of the show and manages to work on various levels giving her work a more wide reaching appeal.

 

Nötfärs,späck,vitlök och kryddor

Nötfärs, späck, vitlök och kryddor (Minced beef, bacon, garlic and spices), from Newton’s Bird by Linnéa Jörpeland(detail, 2015, bronze and wood), 77 x 69 x 57 cm

 

My favourite piece in this exhibition does not however have an animal present in it. This work does make use of the shadow though. Whether this is an actual shadow, like in this case, fashioned from a sculpted Swedish flag & flag pole or a painted/changed shadow, like in other instances, these do have a strong presence in this body of work. The shadow here, made by the spot light and flag construction has a woman in a kind of 40’s or 50’s style bathing suit appearing to walk along the line made by the shadow in the way a trapeze artist might precede along a tightrope. This quite delicately sculpted piece has a refined appearance. Nationalism and perceived notions of the female role and their associated stereotypes, are strongly contained within this piece but not overtly so in my view.

 

I sinom tid

I sinom tid (In due course), 2015, from Newton’s Bird by Linnéa Jörpeland, bronze and wood, 100 x 100 x 22 cm

 

The exhibition runs until March 22nd, 2015.

 

 

Hans-Bellmer-13Images from Hans Bellmer’s 1934 book, The Doll (Die Puppe), feature in this show at Stockholm’s Kulturhuset

 

Our fourth and final tip is the exhibition Asylum at Kulturhuset in Stockholm. Curated by the author and director of fashion design at Kulturhuset Stadsteatern Karina Ericsson Wär, the show is a specific, but expansive exploration into certain correlations between fashion and art. Works from a wide array of artists & designers, both past and present are on show here and as one might expect, these are largely interested in studies and depictions of the body. The key captivations of the show are with constructing various identities - with different notions of the surreal featuring strongly in the exhibition. None more so than the work of notable advocates of this treatment, such as Hans Bellmer, whose renowned photographs of distorted and deformed human shapes are on display. Elsa Schiaparelli’s Skeleton dress, inspired by a sketch from Salvador Dalí and produced in 1938 for the Haute Couture Collection ‘Circus’, lays bars, or in this particular case, turns inside what is held within, in a bizarre, highly stylised, fashion object. The contemporary designer Ann-Sofie Back’s garments are also displayed. Seemingly incompatible parts are stitched together to produce pieces that appear like futurist designs or costumes from a sci-fi film.

 

schiaparelli-skeleton-dress-1939Designed by Elsa Schiaparelli & Salvador Dali, Skeleton Dress from 1938

 

This exhibition truly is a real treat and contains a whole plethora of different works. From the video installation art of Aernout Mik and their totally unsettling situations, to the violent minimalistic/industrialist, swishing cables of Sun Yuan and Peng Yu & then moreover, the sadomasochistic, eroticism of Rut Hillarp’s relationship with experimental filmmaker Mihail Livada - as depicted in an exquisite film collaboration.

 

asylum-0227

Untitled, 2015, by Ann-Sofie Back in Kulturhuset’s Asylum exhibition

 

Asylum also features works by many other designers and artists, such as Martin Margiela, Anna-Sara Dåvik, Juun.J, Sandra Backlund, Minna Palmqvist, Patrik Söderstam and Maria Miesenberger. A perplexing, yet wholly captivating show, the curation is well considered and conjoins the works together in an often unexpected way, which keeps it interesting and distinctive.

The exhibition runs in Gallery 3 of the Kulturhuset until May 24th, 2015.

 

This concludes our four current exhibition recommendations. We have appreciated seeing these works and hope you have an opportunity to visit these shows as well. If you do, please let us know what you thought of them here, thanks.

 

.P

Tuesday

White Fence: a profile & some considerations on 'For the Recently Found Innocent' (released July 2014)

The album cover & self-portrait for, 'For the Recently Found Innocent'

White Fence is a band that I have followed quite closely since their incarnation as a recording entity some four years ago. Their album release of this year was entitled For the Recently Found Innocent and was duly anticipated - speaking for oneself evidently. Having listened to the record extensively, I would now like to discuss my thoughts on the album over the course of this article. Initially however, I want to write a brief section outlining who the band is.


Darker My Love Performing 'Backseat'
from 'Alive As You Are'

White Fence is essentially just one person. The name of this person is Tim Presley. An American chap, based in L.A but originally from San Francisco, Tim seems to be, or has been involved with a number of bands and musicians for roughly the last decade [for more on this]. This trend of musical ‘types’ being connected and working together on various projects, which Presley seems to be somewhat of an archetype for, is prevalent in the L.A/San Francisco ‘music scene’ - or the ‘scene’ catering for the sorts of sounds made by Presley et al. Of his past work, the most notable was his time spent in Darker My Love, a band which first made me aware of his music (even though he did also spend a short time in Mark E. Smith’s band The Fall - but who hasn’t eh? This feels very much like a separate matter however, so one will not get bogged down in this here.) Their last album to date was the much-underappreciated Alive as You Are (2010), a record that was definitely their strongest and one worth listening to if you haven’t already. Being one of the two principle songwriters whilst in DML and a part of what certainly became a somewhat bigger, more label sponsored act; he has since struck out alone as White Fence and with it, this appears to have brought a far greater creative freedom. Like most recording artists, Presley is more than a little bit indebted to the pop music of earlier decades and especially psychedelia. He does however put a distinct modern twist on older sounds. It is as though he has past 60’s garage rock sensibilities through a certain contemporary psychedelic canon, picking up a variety of influences along the way – everything from punk to the English music hall. Although beginning to emerge on Alive as You Are, his influences notably have many British leanings. One can hear resonances of Kevin Ayers and Syd Barrett particularly of recent tracks. Then, as in this moment, Presley isn’t a musician desperately trying to devise an entirely new musical experience or be a vastly innovative sounding musician. Nevertheless, since the end of DML and up until For the Recently Found Innocent, due to experimentations in writing, structure and musical production, there have been a number of varyingly interesting moments on his 5 other previous White Fence records. The artistic freedom evident on these albums come through a sort of ‘do it yourself’ audio aesthetic and it is tantamount to this individual’s willingness to take what he knows/likes, digest and then regurgitate it in a variety of different ways - some of which understandably work better than others, but the works as a whole only appear to have benefitted from these often captivating attempts. The creative potential of home or self-recording, when executed properly is clear and very few in recent years, have shown this better than Presley. If one has a purpose and can work towards their own creative vision then now, with available means/technology to do so, why would they employ a producer to confuse the whole process? Professional studios have their uses no question. But there are now other ways of going about the recording process and much of the most interesting music today, seems to be evolving from this and other similar methods.

Tim Presley or White Fence or both, playing live

Tim Presley with (from left to right) Jared, Rob & Will 
from DML

In relative terms, Presley could be described, in the working sense at least, as being prolific. Having written, produced and released the best part of 6 long playing albums in less than 5 years, is by modern day standards very productive. Clearly this would have been seen as being ‘par for the course’ up until the late 80’s/90’s, but since then most bands and popular recording musician’s general output has slowed down significantly. The steady output of White Fence however, coupled with the ever changing line-up (excluding Presley clearly) - in terms of the band used for preforming live, as recording has mainly been Presley himself with some noted additions when required - has made it necessary for Presley to select songs which in many respects cater for the personnel he will be utilising during these processes. He states:  I will say I did choose songs that I thought would fit with that group of people. There's two types of songs for me: [there are] the ones that are a little bit self-indulgent, more experimental, kind of stuff at home; really only I can do that in a way. I didn't really want to bring that to the table. I catered to the tools I had, which were Ty, Nick, and then later, Eric Bauer at his studio. A song where I imagined a crazier drum pattern or something - choosing songs like that.” Also, due to the wealth of material he composes, this idea of selection stretches to deciding what does, doesn’t, and when certain materials are recorded. On the question of producing this wealth of material: “Yeah. It [seems to be] like a therapy session for me every day. I do it every day and night, all day and night, really. I just end up with a bunch of songs. Some are really good, some are bad, but I have a good pool to choose from.”

Presley with producer, collaborator & friend Ty Segall, whilst recording 'For the Recently Found Innocent'

Up until this most recent release, the previous records that Presley has recorded as White Fence have been primarily created, recorded and produced in his little studio at home. But for 2014’s release, he decided to do things differently. Perhaps after working in this way for some time a new and refreshed approach was needed. Discussing this most recent collection of songs and recording them:  they didn't move me in the same way that other home recordings did (…) I knew they were good but they weren't working in that capacity. I don't know what the deal was. It was like my room turned on me." As a result he decided to leave the confines of his home and studio and look to alternative means for getting a more satisfying result. Having previously recorded 2012’s album Hair with this individual, he decided to seek the help, new studio space and production input of his friend and collaborator Ty Segall. Consequently, Segall became the record’s producer and they would use his small studio (one time garage) to record the album in. It might also be fair to suggest, having read a number of accounts regarding the subject, that Segall became something of a ‘motivator’ on this project. He helped raise the mood and spur on the progression of the work when Presley was beginning to lose his inspiration for it.


'Time' from the album 'Hair', by 
White Fence & Ty Segall


The inspirations behind this record were, as ever with Presley, rich and varied. In particular, his Father’s death and background in the military and how this affected his family. He felt as though the loss of his Dad and the grieving process in some way enabled a far greater outpouring of creativity and subsequent amassing of material. “It’s really strange how something like that impacts someone, in a positive way" he explained. 

'And by Always' from the 'Is Growing Faith' Album 

Another idea was to adapt a theme(s) on the album; this time something similar to that which was explored on Is Growing Faith album of 2011. In place of ‘faith’ and the cultivating of it, he tried to suggest that the notion of ‘innocence’ might work in a comparable manner. As a result of this, thinking one might rid themselves of greed, fear, hate, envy and other negative emotions, and therefore allow a certain innocence to blossom. This might supply, particularly a creative soul, with a greater sense of accord and the ability to produce their work in a far more honest way. I guess it’s about trying to understand the darker sides of human nature and finding a kind of contentment in your own situation whatever that may be. The idea that Presley uses his creative calling - music - as a kind of therapy, is a feature that crops up on various occasions. This absolute compulsion to write and compose - even an addiction, as he himself has described it - seems both a way of better understanding the interrelated circumstances that surround us and equally, as a method of escaping them.

- In addition, this contains Presley’s interesting references to addiction in relation to the creation of his music.

'Anger Who Keeps you Under' 

My initial responses to the tracks on For the Recently Found Innocent were positive and largely as I expected them to be. This perhaps quite nicely leads me to one of the principle reasons for this article, which may also go some way towards answering the inevitable question, as to why one would write a retort of sorts, to an album released some five months ago. As I am sure we are all aware, in the modern music industry, reviews are written and published absolutely on release of said material, and in some cases, even before this event. These reviews are frequently principally flawed in my view. I say this because, the reviewer probably makes their mind up on the merits of the record after a single complete listen, as is the nature and time given to the job; and let’s be honest, there is almost certainly an agenda beforehand as to what their respective publications are going to endorse or throw scorn over. This is the ‘Hipster’ environment that for good or bad now affects all aspects of our popular culture today. I fully understand this and don’t believe it will change. It has, to varying degrees, always been this way since the dawning of youth/sub-cultures and associated ‘rebellions’ as we know them to be - I am not even certain how else it could manifest itself either. Nevertheless, I have always felt that it would be more applicable to the actual procedure of fully listening and getting to understand or otherwise, appreciate, hate or become enthralled in a record, to allow this to occur over a period of time; much in the same way that this generally happens with the listener. I think most of us have heard, or have adopted, the statement, “give it time, it’s a grower”, on certain necessary occasions. As I have become more aware of over time, the first response on listening to a record rarely remains the predominant sense after many subsequent listens. How many times of late have I listened to a record, which I enjoy at first but soon become increasingly bored with and in extreme cases, begin to loath (?). As a result of all this, I felt I would use this latest White Fence record as the subject of this piece - largely because I know and have appreciated much of his work previously - and therefore I aim to give a broad view on how I judge the album fits into his larger oeuvre. I recognise that this process of giving a fully considered response to an album, can only ever take place on rare occasions, but ones such as this. 

'Sandra (when the earth dies)'

As I have commented on before, I enjoyed this most recent White Fence record on first hearing it. It seemed to have many of the sounds and musical references found on his other previous examples. The opening track, and title track on the album, is a short little number, just over a minute long in fact, containing a hook that leaves you wishing it were longer. The Recently Found has a droll that introduces the record fairly well. Track two, Anger! Who Keeps You Under, is as you might expect with it being one of the records opening numbers, one of its strongest songs. The production is surprising for a White Fence song. The well-polished nature of it, I feel gives it real commercial appeal, which makes it the perfect foil for track three. Like That is the album’s single. I am not sure if there were any others, but nevertheless it appears precisely in that mould. This song is an unbridled ‘hit’; of that there is no doubt - a quintessential single. It sounds a lot like The Who in their early, three-minute pop making era. On this Presley’s commented: "When I first wrote it I was like, ‘Dude, I just wrote a hit, (…) I was almost embarrassed to record it. I almost threw it away. But Ty was like, ‘What about that song?' So we cut it. It's a weird one." I would agree, as White Fence songs go, this does seem a little strange, but no less catchy for it. Sandra (when the earth dies) follows this and is one of my personal favourites. Again, like much of White Fence’s back catalogue, the British influence on this understated, yet intriguingly familiar song, is abundantly clear. It has a slight Syd Barrett/’Kinksy’ element to it, with a piano section, supplied by Mikal Cronin, another musician from this current L.A music scene. Taking more than a little inspiration from the English music hall sound, this track sounds more Canterbury psychedelia than any delta blues or Americana infused weirdness, as would have been ‘closer to home’, so to speak – and this influence for me is undeniably a good thing too.

'Hey! Roman Nose' from 'Family Perfume vol. 1'

'Balance Your Heart' from 'Family Perfume vol. 1'

'Be At Home' from 'Family Perfume vol. 2'

In my view (and this is all it is clearly), the album begins to show some signs of lethargy from this point. Although the structure and production remain very professional, one begins to suspect that this approach to making the record is in fact stifling it a little and in some instances, has positively smothered it. It therefore starts to become somewhat predictable I feel. The great White Fence double album Family Perfume vol. 1 & 2 (2012) works so well because of the apparent freedom of expression they both exude and how they make you feel as though you can never guess what is coming next – the songs are always surprising but unmistakably White Fence. I sense that that sort of unshackled creative approach is what Presley is so good at. Likewise, after listening to all of Presley’s albums many times, if I were to make the judgement that as pure musical material - i.e. songs alone go - 2013’s Cyclops Reaps is his finest example of this critical source. Therefore, if such an artistic spectrum does exist, at the opposite end of it regrettably has to be this year’s album. There are some really great songs on the record, as I have said. Raven on White Cadillac, Hard Water, Good Bye Law, are some other highlights; with their mixture of Americana, folk and country; as is the classic sounding Presley number, with it’s high energy directness, Arrow Man. This song particularly feels almost as though it could easily have been a Darker My Love track, which I suppose is understandable, but is also something that is hard to find on any of the earlier White Fence releases. 

'Arrow Man'

'Raven on White Cadillac'

It is undoubtedly the fact that this record is a much more accessible body of work and one which has been recorded in a far more conventional manner. The mixing of the final album has obviously taken place on a grander scale and therefore has allowed it to emerge as a more lucid piece. However, for all that this production value brings, I sense that these are the very aspects that have removed some of the appeal for me of a White Fence collection of songs. Perhaps this is just a different approach and another way of going about things. My overriding sense is that, as much as I enjoyed Tim’s previous band Darker My Love, I consider that this record could almost have been one of theirs’. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing either. I would like to hear another DML album one day and who knows that day might come sooner rather than not. I would rather see that occur, if this is the type of albums Presley intends on making in the foreseeable future anyway. The whole band dynamic often enhances this sort of sound anyway. Conversely, with regards more tangible matters, many of the subtle nuances and vital little details of a White Fence record appear to have been lost on this last album, for one reason or another; even if the predominant sound created has largely stayed intact.

Darker My Love with 'Two Ways Out'

I have tried to be as honest as I can here and unlike most reviews, I have also attempted not to carry any overall agenda. The music made by this individual, I can safely say I know and haven’t just given it a very brief listen to. From all this prior deliberating though, I would like to surmise by saying that after creating five intriguingly powerful, musically individual albums, this current work comes across as being more straightforward in its presented form. In terms of songs, it has a few of Presley’s strongest that is clear as well. I just personally hope that the lo-fi nature and refreshingly different production, which was White Fence and those joyfully bizarre little moments, will emerge yet again on future releases.

- All the quotes in this article have been taken from recent interviews with Presley and concern the release of ‘For the Recently Found Innocent’. These quotes have all been marked and linked to the original source.