We are delighted to present the exhibition Fixations by the Danish artists Mette Juul and Rasmus Søndergaard Johannsen.
At first glance the works of Mette Juul (*1977, Randers) and Rasmus Søndergaard Johannsen (*1982, Brovst) have little in common. Juul works with photography, film and ready-mades. Johannsen creates large-format woven tapestries and sculptures made out of nylon nets and metal. Their similarities only reveal themselves when you take a closer look at the way both artists work.
For his series Lineated Luminary, Johannsen uses an old photographic technique, the cyanotype: he sprays a light-sensitive mixture of iron salts on a rough fabric woven out rope made from stinging nettle fibres and exposes the wetted surface to the moonlight at the Berlin Humboldthain. Everything that falls on the canvas during the night (leafs, branches, shadows…), leaves an imprint on it. The result is a dark blue play of light and shadows created at this particular location during one particular moonlit night with all its contingencies that occur throughout the long period of exposure.
When Mette Juul was scanning old photos of her grandmother, she was struck by what she found. The photos were not showing the expected scenes of weddings, christenings and birthdays which were so common in her grandmother’s time. Instead the photos are remarkable snapshots of intimate family moments. Three of the motifs fascinated the artist in particular: Juul magnified their negatives with a photographic enlarger which she pointed at a wall where she had attached several photo papers. The extended exposure – which can last up to one hour – and the following complex development process led, in the course of this, again and again to tiny irregularities on the photo surfaces. At the same time, however, these lucky accidents form the unique character of the final artwork, a mosaic of scores of photographic details.
Both artists share a fundamental fascination for the medium photography and the careful and sometimes tedious method of working that comes with it. Their artworks are distillates of a certain place and time which emerge during a process that moves from initial control to the point of letting go and accepting unforeseeable changes. Thus the exhibition title Fixations refers, quite literally, to the procedure of photographic “fixation” as the final capturing of a moment or a particular period of time either on photo paper or in a material itself. But Johannsen’s woven sculptures and tied metal nets also unveil the artist’s almost obsessive act of knotting another, almost psychological, meaning of “fixation”. And furthermore, Juul’s fixed eye on the history of her family and her questioning of reality through her ready-mades reflect yet a further kind of fixation, one in terms of content: the artist screens her own identity, investigates the structures of her culture.
For their exhibition Fixations the works of Mette Juul and Rasmus Søndergaard Johannsen enter, for the first time, into a direct artistic dialogue whose dynamic can only reveal itself completely in the exhibition spaces through the gaze of the beholder.