Photographic Constructions / Nils Olav Boe
Sep 20 – Oct 27, 2018

Nils Olav Bøe

We have the great pleasure of announcing our first show by the renowned Norwegian artist Nils Olav Bøe.

The exhibition will present new works from the series Constructed Sites, consisting of both photographs and video works, and unique Polaroids from his new series U.T.

Bøe is also launching his new book Photographic Constructions presenting his comprehensive artistry for 30 years focusing on the photographic works. The book is written by art critic Arve Rød.

 

Nils Olav Bøe

Nils Olav Bøe

Excerpt from Photographic Constructions:

Bøe’s constructed landscape draws the curtain aside to reveal limitless and timeless space, in grey tones – “if you take away the color, you take away a little of time,” as Bøe explained when talking about the use of black and white rather than color. The concrete elements are strictly speaking linked to our time. To the extent that Constructed Landscape and Constructed Sites represent a dystopian perspective of reality – industrialism’s conquest over nature, or as a consequence of this the end of humanity, are two feasible doomsday visions to be found in Bøe’s photographs – it is formulated as “an imprint of our own time”, according to the artist. The use of elements from the built world are perhaps just as applicable in relation to the “New Topographics” photographers of the 1970s, and how they introduced depictions of this reality as a subject for investigation in photographic art: panorama pictures of urban landscapes, highway intersections, and anonymous, modernistic architecture – also mainly in black and white. In retrospect, it is primarily the German artists Bernd and Hilla Becher, and their cataloguing of industrial structures, which they called “typologies” – a visually sober and serial documentation of water towers, power stations, etc. – which remain standing as the most well known from the New Topographics group.

 

Nils Olav Bøe

Nils Olav Bøe

As professor and instructor at the art academy in Düsseldorf they literally started their own school, with a number of prominent photo artists as their students who would later be known as the Becher Class, or the Düsseldorf School, in the international art world. From the second half of the 1980s and thereafter, artists such as Andreas Gursky, Thomas Struth, Candida Höfer and Axel Hütte became known for reproducing the sublime aspect of the modern world’s urban and industrial endless monotony. There is no futuristic intention or vision in such a perspective, neither in Constructed Landscape, Constructed Sites nor in the Polaroid pictures. They are interpretations of a world here and now, no matter how construed, atmospheric and dreamlike, which can of course increase the sphere of interpretation to encompass a more concrete critique of the political agenda.

 

Nils Olav Bøe

Nils Olav Bøe

On this point it is therefore relevant to view Bøe’s constructed landscapes in connection with more recent artistic projects such as the New Topographics photographers or the work of the Becher class. Pictures such as Constructed Sites (Texas), 2013; a single tower situated at the centre of the picture plane, or the stylized wall in Constructed Landscape 4 (2004), one is immediately inclined to place in the same aesthetic tradition. Yet they also differ significantly from it. The nature and appearance of the miniature tableaus bring an additional ambiguity to the sublime effect, which draws them down to earth, based on the physical construction of the scenes and the manner in which they are photographed, close up. The final result is both very solemn and subtly charming in its warping of dimensions and distances (for example the apparently infinite background is in reality just a curved sheet of paper submitted to meticulous lighting), as though they were real scenes seen through a tilt-shift lens – a technology which gives the picture a selective focus, and which is often used to simulate miniature scenes in photographing locations or objects (also known as a diorama effect or diorama illusion). This is not the case here, of course; as already described Bøe’s pictures are constructed from scratch in the studio, but they gain tension in their form of expression somewhere between dystopian and unreal, in some cases almost witty, which further increases the pictures’ potential for narrative content.

 

Nils Olav Bøe

Nils Olav Bøe

The psychological aspect is nevertheless the most decisive motivational force, also in the photographic works. The modern realization that we are more intimately connected to nature and matter than we have until now been willing to take in, and that the life-sustaining foundation for civilisation as we know it is perhaps about to be disturbed forever, are eco-political insights that also pertain to Bøe’s oeuvre. Yet at the same time such a realization calls for concrete political action, it also opens up new inner rooms for art to decipher.

–Arve Rød, 2018

Photographic Constructions / Nils Olav Bøe
September 20 – October 27, 2018 / Shoot Gallery
Please visit the exhibition page >

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