With his concise and poetic imagery as well as his literary texts on photography, Morten Andenæs has made a distinct mark on the Norwegian photography scene in recent years. His work is concerned with the relationships between people, the roles we assume and the gaze with which we confront the world. Through his dense and dark images of people, animals, landscapes and objects, the artist creates photographs that reflect our fantasies and desires.
At a time when we increasingly create our identity through images and status updates, Andenæs is concerned that representations not only describe, but also shape our image of the world. In his work, images are allowed to remain complex constructions that cannot be reduced to simple tropes or slogans. The title I Remind Me of You suggests an inherent need to identify with the world and each other; and the possibilities and impossibilities of such identification.
Andenæs’s atmospherically charged visual language is connected to Nordic artists like Tom Sandberg and Vilhelm Hammershøi, in whose work an existential weight is drawn out of everyday scenarios. A pomegranate on a table, a crumpled sweater, a dog with its back turned, the moon above the horizon – the world appears both familiar and fundamentally alien in Andenæs’ photos. At the same time, the artist has for many years explored the limitations that society and family impose on the individual. With similarities to Nordic noir, his works portray a melancholy mood with an underlying social critique – a moral ambivalence in everyday motifs.
For the exhibition the artist has constructed an enclosure in the space which will contain, among other things, his first video piece, in which a young woman sings Buss und Reu from J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. The chamber’s simple circular form and the material serving as the ceiling suggests children’s games in which four chairs and a blanket can become a house, but this basic attempt to separate the outside from the inside simultaenously creates the possibility of “us” and “them”.
I Remind Me of You is the artist’s first large institutional exhibition in Norway and displays a broad selection of new and older photographs. During the exhibition period, Andenæs will release his first work of fiction, which deals with the same themes. Du, jeg og Erik (You, Me and Erik) is a book about the need to be seen and the destructive forces that are unleashed when this need is not satisfied. Both the book and the photographs convey narratives about national and social belonging. What unites us and what divides us from one another – neighbours from strangers, us from them, you from me?
“A large part of what I do is attempt to understand how and why pictures have such an enormous impact on us.”
- Morten Andenæs
Morten Andenæs (born 1979) was educated at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and lives and works in Oslo. His work has been acquired by several public and private institutions and has been shown at various institutions at home and abroad. Selected solo exhibitions include Melk, Fotogalleriet and Galleri Riis. In addition to his photographic practice Andenæs is set to release two publications in 2019 – a novel published by Teknisk Industri, and an essay collection on photography for Objektiv Forlag.
Photo: Morten Andenæs, I remind me of you.