Martin Skauen

Slideshow Johnny

OSLcontemporary is proud to present the exhibition Slideshow Johnny, with new works by Martin Skauen. The signature work was shown at Statements, Art Basel 2012, and consists of a six-act video-installation featuring Skauen's alter ego, Slideshow Johnny. The exhibition will also present the video My First Poem, as well as selected drawings.

Martin Skauen was first noted for his technically precise drawings. Broadly connoting cultural and historic references within the morbid and mythical, the work may be read in terms of the surrealist strategy of rupture and discord, - the suspension of reason and the seeking of meaning within the irrational. This interest persists in more recent works within video, photography, text and performance. The drawings are often interrelated with the videos, re-contextualized alongside fragmented, appropriated material. Digging in to the archives of a cultural collective consciousness, high- and low-brow references are collected and compiled in constellations that partly illustrate, partly implode narrative clichés. Skauen's subjects are located between the instantly familiar and theatrical, chaotic contingency.

Slideshow Johnny portrays an experimental outsider artist, dedicated to the bone and highly influenced by personal issues. His "slideshows" differ in tone and subject matter, alternating between beat poetry and comedy. Johnny reflects on the ludicrous nature of aesthetic impulse and its appreciation, posing questions such as, “Why is upside down interesting?” - pushing himself to physical limits when indeed performing upside- down. He attempts to balance out instances of the pathetic with "words that tell the truth". In the last chapter ‘Q&A' Johnny becomes a spiritual medium through which people can ask fundamental questions. The audience is a vital part of the act throughout the work. Johnny's performances embody the fragility of artistic expression and self-exposure. He demonstrates, with instances of comic relief, the precariousness of the human condition; the absurd banality of being; the shaky confidence of a self striving for legitimacy. He implies a fine line between the loser and the super-star, the pathetic and the genial.

The work Slideshow Johnny is shown in collaboration with Laura Bartlett Gallery.