REVIEW: DANGER MUSEUM, PUBLISHED IN NEUE REVIEW DECEMBER 2004, WRITTEN BY LEIF MAGNE TANGEN AND GRANT WATSON
There are a series of interviews done in Seoul and Norway in 2003 and 2004 (conducted by Danger Museum ) where artist, curators, critics, directors and other art-related individuals are asked to more or less perform a self analysis of their relationship to not only Seoul or Norway and their own art production, but also about collecting art and about
art and politics. All Interviews are thinking out loud, they collect thoughts.
Other ways of archiving thoughts can be visually. One might produce a pre-exhibition visual essay of how the show might/will look like and compare this with how the show it self is documented on photography later. The space between – might be, and – have been produces a level of communication between the sender and receiver of a message. There is always a gap, not only between how the producer intent something to be interpreted contra how the consumer actually understands it, but also how the producer are conceptualising something before and how it is actually visualised later – and how the interpreter memorise anything thing after experiencing it. Not to talk about how a mechanical or digital tool is distorting the frame and expression of the idée. These problems are not to be avoided, but rather to be played with and used as basis for research and analysis with in the contemporary art scene.
Contemporary Art is according to Thierry de Duve quite young – only a hundred years old. Compared with the subtle qualities that classical music, memorials, literature and oil painting have, based on singularity in classical tradition, education and ownership Contemporary Art must not relate so much to what Sigmund Freud called “Unbehagens in
der Kultur”. It gives the human imagination, the one we have been developing since before the first ice age, the imagination who helped men and women to escape a dreadful everyday, expanding their possibilities and dreaming another world or developing utopias, more room to play in. Artist of today have the possibility to make art that restructure and rebuilds itself in the minds of the viewer. It can be totally abstract but realistic, realistic/abstract. It can be based on a idée or a thought, what kind of material is rather unimportant – the important thing is that what ever comes away there is an artistic mind behind it that is willing to break the boundaries between critical and creative
thought. Are interviews and archives important? Are there any art collections? Do we need museums? The Danger Museum is a paper museum so it can be closed down and opened up again with relatively little effort. No need for backbreaking breaking appeals for public funding or corporate partnerships, no need for architects, no hard hat site visits, no temporary off site projects and no completely rethinking the collection. The Danger Museum forms like the liquid image on the soap bubble of expectations and rhetoric produced by cultural people when they get together. In the museum world, people like to ask the question ‘what will the museum of the future be?’ and this becomes the basis of conference papers, plenary sessions, in depth interviews with artists, critics and curators. Is it going to be the laboratory or the archive? How can we continue to think about a grassroots when there is no outside? Can we perhaps
bring it all under one roof in a smart convergence of laptops and plywood structures, email printouts installed like text works, cartoon scribbles from (all are welcome) round table discussions pinned onto notice boards alongside digital images from opening nights?
The Danger Museum reflects this back in the form of a digital representation. Not in the spirit of an experiential museum in cyberspace, but instead as a paper-thin laser printed colour copy all over view with several different ways of showing the dynamics of any situation. Giving voice to the creeping feeling that every situation is the same –
right down to its emphasis on the local. In this manner the Danger Museum is as impervious to context as the art world itself. Happily swapping this gallery space for that, implanting this artwork into that setting, rearranging the players with the power of cut and paste and even subverting the temporal sequence of things by appearing at openings
before they have happened. Does this make the Danger Museum some kind of cock sure peripatetic institutional critique or is it relationally inclined? Neither is the case. Instead it arrives into town with the uncertainty of a participant observer, unsure of its role. Much like everybody else, its position is never properly defined, and so a highly formalised gallery map is made, a structure predicated on the art world, in which the museum appears as one element among many. This structure is composed from arrangements of people and places. From peoples expectations, their profession, their working environment, their milieu, their social skills, their taste, their clothes, their figure and their face as it forms a plane of colour or silhouette against a backdrop of exhibition architecture dotted with
artworks (in which they feature). The Danger Museum is a social commentator, that, sensitive to the multiple nuances and quirks of the art circuit, its ambiguity and self conscious way of linking activity and meaning, finds itself unable to state a clear position. So instead it plays with the power of pictorial representation to simultaneously
augment and defuse meaning, to perform an archival role as well as to hypothesise about the future – as a possible re-configurations of the present.
illustration: Danger Museum Concept Illustrations, 2004