This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
The best solution is to come together under a unified understanding. Leviathan proposes the structure for an absolute sovereign to watch over the rest. By interacting with Critical Mass we are consenting to its rule, everything revolves around its orbit. Conversely, the explosion of Kjellberg’s one thousandplus pieces suggests there is no finality to this idea of absolute rule. One can read the book, observe its tenets, instruct its followers, but in the end, there is always our free will. The observer can interact with Critical Mass and when finished, walk away, even though the experience remains with us. One may also consider sculptor Anish Kapoors’ Cloud Gate, 2004-2006 that permanently resides in Chicago, Illinois. Also known as “The Bean,” its enormity of scale and highly polished surface encourages participation. As with Critical Mass, you are expected to interact with it from all sides and are rewarded with varying aesthetic vistas. To see Kjellberg’s installation from afar is to approach a garden; but to walk through this particular garden, or under, or around it, is to embark upon a host of sensations. Her work sweeps you into an awareness that is not arrived at by merely observing it in a passive state. Henny Linn Kjellberg’s Critical Mass is best understood when existing with, and being within, the cascading display of shape and light.
1. Rosalind Krauss, “Sculpture in the Expanded Field,” October, Vol. 8; (Spring 1979), pp.30-44.
HENNY LINN KJELLBERG Henny Linn Kjellberg holds a BFA from The School of Design, Bornholm, Denmark in exchange with The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and an MFA from Konstfack, University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, Stockholm, Sweden. She also studied at Oslo National Academy of Art SHKS, Oslo, Norway. Since 2000, she has been active in various fields within the visual arts, creating work in installation, performance art, and traditional commission work. She has exhibited her work at galleries and museums in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Thailand, Canada, and the United States. Kjellberg has been an artist-in-residence and guest artist several times at the global residencies; the International Ceramic Research Centre, Skælskør, Denmark and the Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff, Alberta, Canada. She lives and works in Uppsala, Sweden. BLAIR SCHULMAN Based in Kansas City, Missouri, Blair Schulman is an art writer, critic, and curator. He is the Editor of Cupcakes in Regalia (www.cupcakesinregalia.com) and is a regular contributor to Ceramics: Art & Perception and Juxtapoz. Schulman completed the 2012 Oklahoma Art Writing & Curatorial Fellowship, presented by the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition (OVAC). The Fellowship is generously funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Kirkpatrick Foundation, Inc., and the Oklahoma Arts Council. This publication was prepared for the exhibition Henny Linn Kjellberg: Critical Mass, organized by Rochester Art Center, June, 2013 – May, 2014. ISBN-13 978-0-9762364-1-9 | ISBN-10 0-9792364-1-X ©2013 Rochester Art Center. All rights reserved. FUNDING The Wells Fargo Atrium Series is made possible through funding by Wells Fargo. Support for this exhibition provided by The Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, The Windgate Charitable Foundation, The Swedish Council of America, and Judy & Robert Douglas, in honor of Ed & Virginia McKevitt. Rochester Art Center is a fiscal year 2013 recipient of a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is funded, in part, by the Minnesota arts and cultural heritage fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008. Funding is provided in part by a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and private funders. Rochester Art Center’s exhibitions, programs, and operations are made possible through the generosity of Rochester Art Center’s Board of Directors, donors, and members. Rochester Art Center is also grateful to the City of Rochester for their critical operational support.
HENNY LINN KJELLBERG: CRITICAL MASS
JUNE, 2013 – MAY, 2014
THE COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS AND INSTALLATION ART
Blair Schulman Henny Linn Kjellberg’s impressive installation is a deep-rooted study of human nature and our relationship with the social contract. The binding arbitration that Critical Mass brings is felt as mediation between the individual and the collective space we occupy. We might look at an individual painting on the wall, or even a sculpture on a pedestal, and have a visceral response that is unique to a singular viewpoint and often unencumbered by the reaction of another viewer. However, Kjellberg brings her audience together as a collective group to debate their shared experience. It is where history and sociology are put into praxis. In group behavior, critical mass is defined as a plausible number of adopters in a social system, the rate of adoption becomes self-perpetuating in creating further growth. Critical Mass, the installation, expands the singular viewer into an appropriation of the hive mind. Ideas of installation art encompass many practices that approach historical and theoretical perceptions. The proviso of this medium instructs the viewer to assert an interactive (rather than passive) identity with the work. There is no frame separating the art form from its viewing context; it melds together as a life experience. Borders are expanded so as to embrace new areas of content and experience. We are swept into a state of awareness. In her seminal essay “Sculpture in the Expanded Field,” published in October, the peer-reviewed academic journal specializing in contemporary art, critic Rosalind Krauss suggests “the discipline of sculpture has simply seized a larger area for itself.”1 Painting and sculpture freezes time while installation turns its back on this effect, multiplying and magnifying those mediums, sometimes even enveloping the space. The work becomes generative and does not rely solely upon observance. When there is interaction, formative changes occur in both the environment and with the observer. This interaction perpetuates this group mentality, like Communism without the corruption. It keeps us together.
As a society, we need answers and when they are discovered, we tend to share them; circulation apotheosizes this discovery. Technology in our age is a massive collective embodying a purity of shape that has never been seen before. Social media, like Facebook and Twitter is the undiluted, unedited sharing of information. The multiple cell organisms are the greater part of the collective swarms of formation. Its significance perpetuates an adherence of this compact. From this dispersal comes the annotation of a never-ending composition that is the chain event we call life. These fractals of ceramics from Kjellberg are selfrepeating systems, hanging from the ceiling, dispersed in a thousand different directions representative of our own needs as a society. The public relations expert that resides in everyone’s mind is hard at work ensuring our individual rationale is known to one and all. However, to some extent it becomes moot once the hive mind is present. Critical Mass is the stationary fixture in which the observer revolves and thus, inhabitants of this hive are born. The scale of Kjellberg’s piece asks the viewer to have an experience, similar to our interactions with landscape and architecture. Not as objects, but as surroundings. A place where we become one with the art work, and the experience becomes relatable to both body and mind.
There are over one thousand pieces of ceramic hung from the atrium roof of the Rochester Art Center. On one side of each piece (measuring approximately 10 by 6 inches), Kjellberg made a screen print frame utilizing photographs she took herself from an original edition of the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes’ 1651 treatise Leviathan found in the rare books collection at Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden, Kjellberg’s home town. This 17th Century socio-political tome is considered the genesis of the social contract theory. Kjellberg’s’ application of the text, which she printed with underglaze color on tissue paper, was then transferred onto individual pieces of leather-hard porcelain and high fired, with no glaze. The inclusion of this text on every piece imparts an individual depth that is discovered whenever the light becomes diffused, as well as other points in the day or evening. Because of these differentials, we have a different experience each time it is observed. The idea of allowing the natural lighting promoted by the atrium itself plays an important role in conjunction with the shadow presented throughout the day and evening when electric lights are more apparent. Kjellberg’s use of shadows prompted by the nature of the installation itself creates extra facets to make it even more spatial. It is this dramatic feel for using the space as a stage where something is being performed, a parallel life. As stories, embracing a multifacetted visual experience is enacted. The organic nature, the texture, and components that these hanging objects bring to the space present a fluctuating diffusion of light and composition. One is reminded of ceramicist Richard Notkin’s wall murals. The economy of space in some of his large-scale works (for example, The Last Syllable of Recorded Time, 2010) comes to mind. Critical Mass imparts a similarly bold and transformative aesthetic that makes a strong social commentary. However, we absorb its context without the jarring portrayal that Notkin would have us embrace with his work. Kjellberg’s use of Hobbes’ Leviathan is telling; the viewer is inextricably linked to the location. The parts relate to one another, but mostly they relate to the larger space. That posits the question: what is our place in the greater world? The book’s contents argue the idea of peace and civic unity established through a social contract. Its philosophical explanation is such an alliance cannot be guaranteed. It makes the presumption people are constantly under threat from one another.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.