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P74 Gallery

Vigdis Storsveen: Stars and Stripes

Curated by: Mojca Grmek
23 February – 12 March, 2010
KAPSULA, Podhod Ajdovščina 1, Ljubljana

When the American artist Jasper Johns showed his pictures of the US flag in the legendary gallery Leo Castelli, many found the exhibition extremely offensive. Was he ridiculing the national symbol or were the pictures an honourable tribute to the American flag? When Vigdis Storsveen now literally picks up the threads of this rich period of art history with her work Stars & Stripes, she does so at a time when attitudes to the American flag are more ambivalent than ever; both loved and hated as an icon of an imperalist and hypercommercial consumer society, yet still one of the strongest symbols of the American Dream.

In the case of Johns, a Flag was not merely a flag or a reproduction of one, but an object in its own right. His ambiguous works made him one of the forerunners of the art movement that eventually came to be known as Pop Art. And just as some of the leading pop art artists of the 1960s integrated a number of clear references to art history in their works, Storsveen’s pop installations also incorporate many visible references to exactly the same art movement. But in contrast to the original pop artists, who to a large extent shamelessly and lovingly embraced clichés and “lower” pop culture, many neo-pop artists approach the same motifs from a greater distance and a more critical perspective.

However, Storsveen’s art operates on more than one level. Like Johns’ flag, her works constitute autonomous, aesthetic objects. At the same time, they can be seen in the light of the western world’s many cultural references and historical art movements – including different forms of food art and minimalism, with its frugal idiom. Her minimalism is perhaps most reminiscent of the stringently composed cubes and grids of Sol LeWitt. But Storsveen’s installations are much more sensual than the works of more strictly geometric minimalism, primarily because the small, pop elements on which her works are based are organic – both in form and in fact.

Storsveen’s use of a material that is fundamentally extremely ephemeral is part of an extended project; several of her works have been investigations into the concepts of temporality and interactivity. In this way, Storsveen’s installations lie in an area of tension between the line, the material, the light, the space and the public – and where all these factors can influence and change one another.

More about the author: www.vigdis-storsveen.no