Henrik Ekesiöö The Propp Show

31 January 2013 24 March 2013

Solo exhibition
Project rooms, Färgfabriken

An exhibition about existential confusion and the search for identity in Färgfabrikens Project rooms.

Reflections on The Propp Show

Färgfabriken presents a comprehensive solo exhibition entitled “The Propp Show” from Henrik Ekesiöö. His work develops itself on an ongoing transformation of material, medium and conception as sculptural forms, documentation of performances and painterly objects. What one can clearly see in each level is the theatrical representation of absurd reality, and painting of catastrophe and catharsis. 

What do these abstractions of big teeth, Google-eyes or pumpkin-head –XXL size round head- refer to? They all look like characters of a puppet-show or an animated narration or a surrealist play? Why is he interested in Arnold Schwarzenegger? A possible answer to dig out the former questions would speculate that this motif operates as an element of irrationality in his conception. Schwarzenegger is definitely not such a cool topic for the art world but what about the audience? Not because of this bodybuilder who became one of the biggest Hollywood stars and also an American governor, but also due to what reflects on his face as an expression of a post-apocalyptic society –especially considering his cult characters in Terminator, Predator or whatever… 

As witnessing eyes of the transition period from televised generation into virtual identities, Ekesiöö proposes an update question: Are we afraid of transformations, mutations, and explosions? This is a rational question with many irrational answers. We all have grown up with that kind of TV material, aren’t we? The monitor -or screen becomes a conceptual form of stage and theatricality has to be redefined in the context of filmic languages. His labyrinth-like exhibition design is based on two large-scale video projectors, many monitors that show his performances plus some paintings –or conceptually correct way of saying, painterly objects. 

In one of these large-scale projections, Ekesiöö displays an unedited video of his improvised performances in a beautiful Scandinavian landscape. The video shots are combined with the sound documentation of the psychotherapy session he attended in the beginning of the research and production process of this exhibition. With the company of a Jungian therapist, he tries to dig out introspective questions around narration, composition, and fiction referring to Vladimir Yakovlevich Propp, the author of “Morphology of the Folktale”. Like his maestro, Propp the artist searches for the narrative structure, and analytical elements of what makes a (contemporary) tale. In the next room, a sequence of documentations from his staged performances is shown on a video projection. Especially, one piece among them is also repeatedly installed on a monitor -in which the detective from the 90’s cult movie “The Demolitian Man” (1993) promises order for the sake of humanity. 

In his paintings, Arnold Schwarzenegger is not only Arnold Schwarzenegger or what is abstracted through the image of Chris Jericho (who is another media personality and a professional wrestler) in one of his paintings is not only composed of the character itself. How the institution of power and its utilization of body becomes a conceptual question at a critical level of investigating today’s fetishes of medical, cosmetic and anti-aging economies. 

A video piece entitled ‘Torkel in Space” begins with an animation of a fictional story about a Swedish space experiment with a human being. The story turns into a dystopian stage, and a performance that shows the astronaut who is fallen into another reality. Throughout the video piece, a narrator’s voice speculates about the theory of relativity as a form of narrative strategy. Ekesiöö’s question becomes crystal clear at this level: What is the connection between the psychological need to believe in tales and stories, and the curiosity for future?

By Adnan Yildiz

More about Henrik Ekesiöö here.