curated by Sabine Schasch l text by Kunsthaus Graz and Sabine Schaschl
The Kunsthaus Baselland is pleased to present the first institutional solo exhibition by the Danish artist, Sofie Thorsen (*1971 in Århus, Denmark, living in Vienna since 1999) in Switzerland. The artist studied at the Danish Academy of Fine Arts and at the Academy of Arts in Vienna and has attracted attention in the last few years with solo exhibitions in Kunstverein Düsseldorf (2011), in Kunsthaus Langenhagen (2010) and in The Århus Art Building (2009).
The exhibition, Schnitt A – A’ (Cut A – A’), is a collaboration with the Kunsthaus Graz, where a slightly different version was presented earlier this year. The film Schnitt A – A’ from which the exhibition derives its title, serves as a basis for the trailer to the Diagonale 2012 Film Festival in Graz.
In her solo exhibition at the Kunsthaus Baselland, Sofie Thorsen presents three major, inter-related complexes of works from the past three years. In the most well-known of the works, The Achromatic Island (2009), the question of seeing and recognising is in focus. The film is based on the history of the Danish island, Fuur, where up to the 1930s numerous inhabitants had increasingly been afflicted with genetic achromatopsia or complete colour blindness for generations. With the inclusion of interviews, texts, photos and moving pictures in haunting black and white contrasts, Thorsen illustrates the landscape and everyday life of Fuur from the perspective of those with this unusual impairment. The condition, conducive to the questioning of perception in general, serves the artist as a conceptual ‘seeing machine’ and provides a possible model of experience with discernible contrasts of sight. Thorsen’s work vacillates between recognisable representation of reality and possible fiction – thereby opening new realms of association to the viewer.
The second topic complex is grouped around the so-called ‘Spielplastiken’ (play sculptures) (2010/11), which as drawings and collages focus on forms of presentation. The works deal with an “art in public space” programme – part of a rebuilding project after the second world war – a framework in which artists were invited to develop sculptures for numerous children’s playgrounds in Vienna. The sculptures attract attention due to their utopian form and colour scheme unusual to a dismal Vienna of the 1950s. They were also functional, aside from being sculptural and architectural forms, to be used by children as play installations. So here too, Thorsen’s diminution of the structures to purely illustrative characters results in a dissociation of place and situation, analysed through the medium she uses.
The latest work complex reflects on the utopian spirit of socialist modernism and a tendency to museum-like, romantically inclined and disgraced cinema. The complex is a long outline of shadows, which progress to seemingly legible symbols and the associated title-lending film, Schnitt A – A’. As a formal highly precise passage through the depths and chasms of the exhibition area, it is devoted to the cinematic language of the transcending light as well as to an abstracted restoration of a look at the expressiveness of the architectural form. The complex thereby is obliged to the tradition of expanded cinema with its holographic penetration of space, as well as its conceptual collages and the accompanying mentally charged nature of objects. The film will debut in its place of origin in autumn 2012 – in the open-air cinema of the Museum of Modern Art in Bratislava – before it is torn down as planned and buried in oblivion.