Exhibition with Erika Dahlén
Palácio de D. Manuel
Évora, Portugal, 17 April - 16 May 2014
(slide show with an impression of the exhibition, its making of and of the inauguration)
Art is not a study of positive reality, but a search for the ideal truth.
George Sand (1804-1876)
Our planet decides about us and our biosphere.
Our creations are just scratches on the table top. After Louise Fresco. July 2013.
About the title: Qualia
Statement of the artist:
It is something of all times: to be convinced that, finally, we discovered the ultimate and only truth. Until some centuries ago we were convinced that our earth ends at the horizon. Later the earth proved to be round, to be part of a solar system and to be part of a galaxy. And now again we know for sure: our universe is 10 27 m wide and expanding.
The search for the smallest particle follows a similar path: from cell via atom, quark and neutrino to quantum foam (10-35 m). And CERN is completely sure: smaller than a quantum foam is impossible.
But how sure are we? the string theory describes the unification of the smallest and the largest, and the existence of multiple universes. Our universe has three dimensions and follows our physical laws, the other universes may not. It is easier to believe that mankind will never discover the ultimate truth.
And in this believe art meets science. Observing the world around us is creating a perception of reality, making our personal truth. In this domain artists as well as scientists act in the frontline: they teach us observing, being aware that we observe, and interpreting our observations. For them, observing is both a starting point and the Holy Grail: they experiment, manipulate, discover, analyze and create something new. With their work they force us to contemplate on what is authentic, natural and real.
And that is what this exhibition aims at. Erika Dahlén experiments, for instance, with fluorescent paint. In the work Qualia the paint is on the wall-directed side of the canvas. She points to the idea that we interpret, rather than see reality: we look at a blank front side of a canvas, but experience a painting. The impression of colour and light changes due to the observers’ position. We make our personal truth by selecting and interpreting information.
The above considerations also lead to the notion how incredibly empty our universe is: matter takes up only a tiny part of space, the rest is empty. This applies to the universe, but also to the smallest particle. Emptiness gives structure to matter, to our living space and to us.
Erika Dahlén is considering this notion of emptiness. For most of us emptiness refers to silence, nothing, darkness, nihilism. But not for Erika Dahlén. For her it represents values such as space, believe and immaterialism. It is like elementary particles: a structure made of empty space with tiny bit matter.
The exhibition hall is scarcely occupied with objects. There is no obvious message or explanation. The work Alentejan writing shines mildly and is of alien dimensions. It first surprises and later triggers to contemplate on contemplate on beauty and harmony, on physical and mental space. It invites the viewer to interpret and to make his personal truth.
One of the exhibited works contains part of a poem on silence by Tomas Tranströmer:
Weary of all who come with words, words but no language
I make my way to the snow-covered island.
The untamed has no words.
The unwritten pages spread out on every side!
I come upon the tracks of deer in the snow.
Language but no words.
Qualia is a philosophical term for the subjective quality of conscious experiences. A term for feelings or experiences beyond what is possible to describe in words; like the scent of a flower or experiencing a piece of art. Qualia is how we experience our world when we are conscious, what it is like to have an experience. Or in the words of Daniel Denett (1942): ”Qualia is an unfamiliar term for something that could not be more familiar to each of us: the ways things seem to us". For Erika Dahlén Qualia refers to the silent qualities of visual art. And that is what she tries to communicate with this exhibition.
“My work is rooted in a deep fascination of how we are capable to communicate in such an abstract way as through art. I am interested in how an artwork comes into being – both as a physical object and as a process within the observer. And how the work is re-created in an interaction between the observer, space and light.
I explore the border between painting and light in different ways: through letting the colour work as a carrier of light and lately in a more concrete way, with black light and fluorescent paints.”
Erika Dahlén (1963) lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden. She had artistic residencies at OBRAS-Portugal in 2011, 2013 and 2014. She will come back for a residency in August 2015.
She had her arts education at Royal Institute of Art (Stockholm) and the M.S.University, Faculty of Fine Arts of Vadodara (Gujarat, India).
Currently she is lecturing at the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, Stockholm (since 1995 on perception studies and since 2004 on art, social and environmental issues). Since 2003 she is Art Consultant of the Church of Sweden.
In 2008 she was editor of Jorden vi ärvde, an anthology on climate, consumption and lifestyle (Ordfront förlag).
In 2012 she did an art project on consumption and sustainable development: RE-CREATED, with secondary school students in Stockholm (in collaboration with Maria Saveland and Anna Selander, and funded by Swedish Art Council).
2014: QUALIA, Palácio de Dom Manuel, Évora, Portugal. 2013: THE MATTER OF SILENCE, Konstnärshuset, Stockholm. 2012 TRANSIT, Lund Cathedral, Sweden. 2010: IN MEMORIAM, Katarina kyrka, Stockholm. 2005: Sörmlands museum. 2005: Sundsvalls museum. 2004: AVBILDER, Kulturhuset, Stockholm. 1999: EFTERBILDER, Olsson Gallery, Stockholm. 1995: VARS TECKEN ÄR RÖK/WHO’S SIGN IS SMOKE, Olsson Gallery, Stockholm. 1993: Botkyrka konsthall. 1990: Gallery Krüll, Stockholm. 1987: Nationalgalleriet, Stockholm.
selection of group shows
2009: Konstnärshuset, Stockholm. 2004: Bok- och biblioteksmässan, Göteborg Book Fair. 1998: T.I.K.S. videoinstallation, Kulturhuset, Stockholm. 1996: SHAKING PATTERNS, W 139, Amsterdam.
1996: NOW, The Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts, Stockholm. 1995: Fredrik Roos collection, Museum of Modern Art, Stockholm.
selection of grants
The Swedish Art Council; The Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Art; Stiftelsen Helge Ax:son Johnson; Grafström-Sandqvistska fonden; Stiftelsen Längmanska kulturfonden.
Her work is represented in
Museum of Modern Art, Stockholm, National Public Art Council, SAK, Sundsvalls museum, Sundsvalls kommun and private collections.
Tomas Tranströmer (Sweden) is recipient of the Nobel Prize of Literature in 2011. The text is part of the poem “Från mars '79 “ which was published in Det vilda torget (1983). Robert Fulton did the translation form Swedish into English.