Vibeke Tandberg

New York and Assumption

Press release

OSLcontemporary is proud to present the exhibition New York & Assumption, with new works by Vibeke Tandberg. The show comprises 9 photographic works, Wrist scans, and 5 word-paintings on wood, in addition to the text-based slideshow New York & Assumption.

Tandberg’s production has, from the outset in the mid 90s, reflected issues relating to the subject position. Her early production takes the vantage point of staged and manipulated self-portraits, problematizing notions of the self at a social, psychological and political level. In a playful take on the tradition of artists like Cindy Sherman, these works point to demarcations between "I" and "other", and to the cultural frameworks that create, influence and maintain self-representations. While projects like Old Man Walking Up and Down a Staircase (2003), more or less explicitly address social and psychological aspects of role- and identity-construction, Tandberg's recent production has been increasingly directed towards a phenomenological and existential understanding of the subject-position, as it appears in text, body and being. Her latest works are primarily informed by literary references, Maurice Blanchot and Samuel Beckett in particular, and engage with philosophical discourses on issues such as language and materiality, separate and related realities.

The title work of this exhibition, New York & Assumption, presents a story about a couple that have sex in an airplane-toilet as the plane goes down. The text is divided in short, descriptive sentences and the time-space occupied by its words contrasts that which is experienced in the narrative, the time it takes to die. The contemplation of time; lost, in search for or happening, brings forth questions related to presence and perception, to the impossibility of experiencing ones own death, and to the act of witnessing the death of an other. This theme is continued in the paintings Oblivion, Absence, Disaster, Assumption and Delirium, in which the titles are painted letter on letter, leaving the words they refer to as unreadable forms. Similarly, in the photographic work Wrist scans, Tandberg's wrists seem to have departed from their bodily foundations. Here, the artist has placed her wrists on the scanner and turned them into abstract shapes.

A word will always take on a separate existence in relation to that which it represents. Much in the same way, one could argue, that no representation of the self may capture the essence of the self as experienced, but becomes a symbol that partly reveals, partly creates that subject-position it is referring to. Following this line of thought, Tanberg's work may be viewed as a continuing practice of mapping and negotiating the terms of exchange between the worlds of materiality and mind ­– a practice that encompasses both the contingent foundations of the subject-position and the independent life of representations.

Vibeke Tandberg published her first novel Beijing Duck in September 2012 (Oktober publishing house, Oslo). She has exhibited widely since the mid 90's, both nationally and internationally. Her work is represented in a number of international collections, including: MoMA (New York), Guggenheim (New York), Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville Paris, Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), Moderna Museet (Stockholm), Astrup Fearnley Museet (Oslo) and Nasjonalmuseet for Kunst (Oslo).