MONUMENT TO A JOINT
Was the A-ha musician, artist, entertainer, performer, from now on MF, under the influence?
Take on me, please giant joint Take me on
The tune resonates over and over, maybe that is what the name of the sculpture surreptitiously wants to convey. Taking a closer look, the joint has holes all over, holes from where the smoke is escaping, a punctured joint.
Tripping then trapping, is this a trap for the inexperienced onlooker? Be careful, don’t break your skull slipping your feet out on the wet paving stones when focusing your inner eye on this magnificent manmade creation.
Would its round base signal a passage? If you cast the magic spell you get transported inside.
The first observation: turns out that it is a jar. What does it contain, or is it just a metaphorical jar?
Second observation: Resonance is a sculpture, a fountain, a jar, a stream, a steam releasing instrument, it is said it has sound too. Conceived as a ceramic jar, I seriously wonder what you could store in it. And, additionally, it lacks a lid. It lives in the centre of Bergen, in Norway’s western coast, near the fish market, just outside Kiwi, very close to bus stops, to the Bybanen stop, to the main central square and its little lake. It stands there, in the middle of everything, at the top of the top, and as we speak it is steaming, or I’d like to think it is steaming.
It should be magnificent, but sometimes it is out of order, does the smoke/steam complete the piece? What happens when it is inactive? Can we see the reflection of emptiness, nothing to be burned inside your gigantic flame?
On dentist appointments and serial…artists
“MF became famous as a member of the Norwegian world famous group, Aha. He still performs occasionally with the group, but in the last years has become one of Norway’s best artists and sculptors.” From an article about the opening of a sculpture park containing M’s sculptures, and nobody else’s.
Can someone be the best at everything they do? I wouldn’t like my dentist to be the best professional football player, would you?
“I am a serial artist. I like to work with many things at the same time.” MF says in a section in his own website called Quotes, I mention this because I wanted to let you know that MF has a section of his website called Quotes, isn’t that something worthy of being mentioned?
Some questions, no answers
What do the people who work at Kiwi think about it every day going to work, or coming out from work? Is it different when going to than when coming from? Are the drips in the sculpture’s surface the same as my brain dripping out of my ears?
Where is the water coming from and going to? Is it like those little fountains at the dentists’ where you spit all your pieces of thingies and blood clogs coming out of your mouth? Who said dentists shouldn’t be traumatising?
Weed hangover walking in the park, to stumble upon the biggest joint you have ever seen.
Will we recover from this dream?
I’ve been trying for months already to put myself together and sit by the joint to ruminate my impressions on it, on being there under the rain, observing. Maybe I already mentioned…? I don’t know, let me get to the point: when I was with L, shopping for supplies for our trip to the North, we passed by the monument, so I took a bunch of pictures of it, of its location, its elements, its colour, etc, to take a spliff up north with me to reflect on the joint from afar.
Well, as it turns out all of this chatter and nonsense is just a reflection on my laziness, on how ideas are produced, on how we delay the moment of doing things until it is almost too late. It does have a word, doesn’t it? I don’t even want to say it out loud.
The only thing that I’ve got so far then, from when I was taking the plane back to Bergen, was some vague online research, limited, because we didn’t have much internet up there, but I can say that there is not much to read or to find out about the thing-in-itself (quite a philosophical way of putting it), but there is a lot about MF, who, in my eyes, went from jerk to funny guy, to even awaking some sympathy in me.
Well, the research said that MF is the creator of the joint, MF has a Rolex watch worth at least 200.000 NOK. And he might be one of these artists who thrives at the disciplines bordering that very outdated division between arts and crafts. I’m bringing this up not because I believe that that distinction is valuable, or even worth discussing with myself, but because I sometimes think that for some years now male artists have somehow thrived more than female artists into these before-being-appropriated-by-males mostly considered female endeavours. Pursuits also considered crafts because of this very same reason, men were painting, and sculpting, and being commissioned work by kings and bishops and so on, and women were condemned to mental hospitals under the claim of having delusions of grandeur like Camille Claudel. Ok the thing is that MF makes carpets a.k.a. textil art, and pottery a.k.a. ceramics, and he is good at selling those, and getting big commissions, like a sculpture park of 50 pieces in Oslo, a-ha! I’m not trying to say this is good or bad, I am letting you know the facts.
In my mental notes about the research I slowly carried all these months, I’m saying: “I’ve found the motivation behind the joint” but then, when six months later, I finally decide to talk about it, I cannot find such a motivation, no texts alluding to it whatsoever, was it cancelled? Had it become censored? What happened?
I go on, then, by saying “its real name, its material, its production process and pictures of making-the-artwork, pictures of its companion somewhere in a lake, its cousins who live in a park on their own, a park created just for them”. Allow me to expand on this, its name is Resonance; it is made of clay, enamel, sound, metal, steam, I have never heard its sound to be honest; the pictures are nice, especially the ones in which we see MF being so proud of his creation. About its companions, I guess I was talking about another jar that is half in and half out of a lake further out of town in Sletten, which might not be his, because I have, again, not found out the information I’m claiming to have had; and finally, about its cousins in Oslo, well, all I can say is that HRH Queen of Norway was there for the opening ceremony.
Is it being friends with Her Majesty the Queen important? Is that what makes these works relevant? Is that what places this giant joint in the middle of the city?
Criticising for the sake of criticising, maybe
I’ve been postponing criticising the thing, because I don’t even know what to criticise about it, or about its creator. So lets rather call it a conversation (with myself). But while thinking about it I found that there is always the way, or the possibility of criticising things. Turns out that it is just a matter of tilting your head to the side and finding something weak or problematic or that you don’t like or that is missing in yourself, or that you don’t have but would like to have that reflects your deepest wishes, so you find it and then bring it up, expand it, enlarge it to make a point about it. So maybe this is a critique of the criticism in itself, no matter what you do or what your intentions are there is always some weak point, something you didn’t think about, or something the other doesn’t like and wants to make a point of and voilà, there it is, your own criticism. Is there any point in the so called ‘positive criticism’? I’m thinking about saying something like: “those colours play well with the landscape; its shape integrates with the city; the steam transports me to a hot summer day after it has rained and the water is evaporating from the puddles; its creator is a master in their craft, and such a good person!”
Does the author even matter as a subject of the critique once the sculpture is out there, on its own? Does god even matter once their clay creature is out there, on its own? Does god care about us, and in transference, does MF cares if the jar is on its own, under the constant rain, steaming every now and then? Am I worried about it? I mean, I had been noticing that it was not ‘smoking’ anymore, and I was worried, until I finally saw it steaming again. Was I relieved? Was it broken and then repaired? Is it exhausted, or bored of its own eternal existence? Who am I to tell…
I’ve been wanting to go there again but I’m leaving town, for now, for the moment, or for good, I don’t know. Maybe the distance will render a clear idea of what obsesses me about it, and what is that I’ve been wanting to talk about. Maybe, as usual, writing from memory, walking around the places that I cannot longer walk while I’m trying to sleep one insomniac night will take me there, will sit me in front of it, on a wet stone bench, will render a clear view of its colours, its texture, will make it steam again like in the good old days. What my memory recalls now, it is not only the jar and its metal base but that it has a line of tiles going in direction to the sea, ending in a drain camouflaged amongst the paving stones. Blue narrow tiles, aligned, conducting the water, a metaphor of a stream maybe. It is curious to note that in MF’s own documentation of the work, not many pictures focus on the line of tiles. The spectacularity of the work is much more important and needs to be emphasised. How majestic it looks at dawn, steaming full power with the sea in the background!
The walls of the jar are heavily painted in dark blue, light blue, even some pink, a lot of glazing, many layers, the clay has been carved, I remember seeing some words even, words that I cannot picture in my head now. It has some tiny bumps, eye-shaped, with holes in the middle, horizontal vaginas, from where steam should come, but it looks like sometimes the steam isn’t powerful enough to find these ways of escaping and chooses no other than the lips of the jar. It gets all very bodily, even though its size is not bodily at all. I couldn’t hug it, my arms are not long enough, and it must be two, even three times taller than me, not that that is very meritorious in itself, but definitely it is not bodily, it is super human, or going beyond human abilities even, proving the materials, putting it all to its limits. Overly superhuman, especially for a one man job, but logically it was a team effort, even though in the pictures MF is the main feature. Can you imagine the kiln they needed to bake it? Well you can see it if yourself if you go into his website, I can only say: it looked huge.
Can I go back to my memory exercise, please? I can see the steam going out, does it work only at night? Or only when it rains? Why steam? That is the part that somehow makes me think that it is all a subliminal call to the potheads. Is it necessary that it steams from the top, exactly like when you are sharing a joint with a friend? Is it an ode to friendship then? Couldn’t it be a vessel, an empty jar, an empty container? Why the steam? If it is steaming then it is not empty, something lives in there, something comes out of there? I cannot get rid of that question, or make sense of it, or make peace with the idea of just because, or even why not?
Maybe, once and for all, I will find the thread of thoughts that will make the steam appear in front of my eyes. But now it is time to leave.
a.k.a. the end, a-ha!
P.T. (post thought)
“Welcome to my new album website! If you have been on the previous one, you know the drill. If you haven’t, find the word ‘old’ in the text below. Click and check it out at your peril.
Now, here’s the idea for this new one: other than the word-content displayed here already, I do not wish to fill it up with more of my ideas – let’s YOU do it!
Don’t be creative. It is so overrated. Be stupid. Be clever. Be bold, be timid. Be fun, be serious. Everything that is not too offensive, too sycophantic, too cute, or just plain boring, and I may utilize it (in the way I see fit of course) to make this site a humdinger.”
In spite of some personal opinions about this text I need to confess that I just love MF’s old website more than anything else MF has done (probably because it turns out it is somehow a collective creation): http://www.magne-f.net