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Vibeke Tandberg

Infinite signature

OSL contemporary is pleased to present the exhibition Infinite signature, with new works by Vibeke Tandberg. Infinite signature is comprised of works incorporating recycled materials sourced from Tandberg’s practice; both actual and metaphorical remnants from the artist’s studio, which here take on new forms in surprising and dramatic constellations.

A central piece in the exhibition is Beijing Duck (concrete). This work consists of 54 cubic concrete blocks, made of 537 books cast in cement, in which only the tops of the books are visible. Beijing Duck (concrete) is the remaining stock of Tandberg’s debut as a novelist with the 2012 publication Beijing Duck. The installation work finds its historic parallel in Marcel Broodthaers’ Pense-Bête from 1964; the Belgian artist’s marking of his own passage from writer to visual artist, where he reworked the remaining copies of his own poetry into a plaster sculpture. Tandberg’s books are now encapsulated in concrete, unreadable and unavailable in their original form. At the same time, they have been given new content, by their transformation from literature and syntax, into objects and compact matter. The poignancy of the concurrent act of destruction and reuse is also explored in Tandberg's picture series Beijing Duck (shotgun), where the last remaining copies of the novel have been shot to pieces with a shotgun, and then scanned from various angles.

This assault on her own production may seem resigned and destructive, but to Tandberg it represents a continuous renewal; a never-ending beginning, where any artistic output, at any time, can be broken free from its definition, categories and physical framework to re-emerge in a new form. The book may have devalued as a literary product through Tandberg’s act, but has, at the same time, been given a new dimension of meaning which reframes both the artwork and the artist's subject, and therefore, the relationship between these two.

A similar recycling of works can be found in the sculpture Undo (2015) in which the frames to the series of pictures by the same name have themselves become an artwork. A reuse in a more deformed way takes place in the photographs Old man (2015) where Tandberg has donned the latex mask from the series Old Man Walking Up and Down a Staircase (2003) and then documented herself using a scanner.

The exhibition’s title, Infinite signature, hints towards an understanding of the artist's subject, or signature, as a cipher in flux, as something both definite and changeable. The signature can change between its function as the affirmation of something firm and authentic, and something that can be shifted between different works and in different contexts. The “infinity” in the exhibition’s title refers to Tandberg’s notion of a “loop”, an interdependent relationship where signature, artist and art work meet each other in a circular motion, which in principle will also continue beyond the artist’s passing.

This loop manifests itself in Tandberg’s recycling of her own works and her own practice: Infinite signature both breaks down and builds up Tandberg’s oeuvre – as a writer and as a visual artist. This strategy can be read as a continuation of the artist’s earlier reflections over identity and position as a subject. Infinite signature is both an act of self-consumption and a desire to liberate the artwork’s essence by allowing it independence from material and instrumental conventions. Tandberg suggests that all works bearing an artist’s signature are, in effect, different versions of each other.