Martin Erik Andersen
half mask half space (the art of self-defence)
29 Apr – 28 May 2016
The relation between plane and space – and how the two interact to shape visual experience – is an essential theme in Martin Erik Andersen’s 2 dimensional works, as well as in his work in general. The 2d works emphasize the physical matter you are confronted with, while also stressing the otherness of its subjects. They are both representing a picture as well as the marginal delimitation of the surface itself. The edge of the paper is in this sense conceived as equal to a line drawn with a pencil.
In recent years the works’ subjects have to large extent consisted of recirculations of own work documentation, sketches, models and process photos. But despite the apparently private and pronounced self-reflective bias of these subjects they don’t come across as especially private. For the subject matter is always deconstructed through a series of different media (from collage to embroidery) and techniques (for example drawing, photo and digital processing), altering the images, making them appear as otherness, and moving them partially outside the known categories of language. In other words the subjects are put in a tense relation to a resistance in the media themselves on which they are reproduced. Transparent folios, knitwear, carpets and worn-out paper are not just acting as backgrounds, but seem to carry out an independent visual discourse establishing and destabilizing micro territories. What the works are performing is fundamentally this breakdown of our frame of reference, where our categories of perception are falling slightly apart and gets a chance to reorganize differently.
In case you are new to these works the sense of deconstructed subject matter may already appear because of the use of a private photo instead of a public or mass cultural image. In any case it becomes evident the moment the image content is mirrored, turned upside down, printed on another type of paper, overwritten with text (which can also be either mirrored or turned upside down), over painted with silver leaf, or any combination of the above. The deconstruction or expansion of subject matter is also closely connected to the work titles carrying references to an encompassing and eclectic cultural space of religion, mythology, literature, cinema and music. The clash between work and language is especially foregrounded in those works where text is directly placed next to other work elements. The personal becomes trans-personal, matter becomes autonomous, or camouflaged, protected against exposure. Content is at once masked and displayed in surfaces confronting each other, like a self-reflecting, flickering, empty mirror, quietly filling itself with otherness.
In the 2d works person, object and site are dissolved as substantial things, and are replaced by vertigo, self-mirroring and blindness. And the idea of self-identity is changed into a chain of transformations, as for instance in a series of works where mythological figures are covering up the figure of the artist: Golem – Alef – Percht. The otherness of the mask or avatar is perhaps a kind of resistance to the disappearance of things into one-dimensionality. Viewed as a whole the works seem to be advocating hyper sensibility; not as escape but as vigilant defence against our common culture. All the formal and material translations, explosions or maskings taking place in the works become a way to maintain what is not identical; a hope that something else exists and can be shared.