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Lauba is thrilled to present the recognised Norwegian photographer Morten Andersen! Our first international exhibition is the fruit of the collaboration with the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Zagreb and OCA (Office for Contemporary Art Norway).
The opening is on May 15th at 7pm. The artist talk will take place at 8 pm with the curators Sandra Križić Roban and Vanja Žanko.
Born in Akershus, Norway 1965. Started making fanzines and taking pictures of friends in punk rock bands when 15 years old in 1980. Continued shooting for bands and norwegian music press during the 1980s, also worked in the darkroom at a daily newspaper in Oslo. Moved to New York and studies at International Center of Photography in 1990, teachers included photographers like Joan Liftin, Nan Goldin, Ken Schles and Larry Clark. Internship with Magnum photographer Gilles Peress. First solo exhibition at Fotogalleriet in Oslo 1992, since then solo and groupshows in New Zealand, France, Germany, Greece, Russia, Italy, Austria, Holland, England, Sweden, USA, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland. Have published 12 books of his own work: Fast City (1999), Days of Night (2003), Oslo F. (2005), Leira (2006), White Nights (2006), Fast/Days (2007), ASS TIME GOES BY (2008), Blå Skog/Blue Forest (2009), Jetlag and Alcohol (2009), Color F (2010), M in M (2011) and Black and Blue (2011).
Reciever of several grants and since 2011 reciever of Government Guaranteed Income for Artists.
Lives and works in Oslo, Norway.
When I open the door, “uncertain” photographs enter
Morten Andersen’s website opens up with a photograph I don’t find appealing, in fact, I find the scene repellent and it does not “call” to me to open that door. The interior of a butcher shop with a long refrigerated showcase and generic images of “gastronomic delights” displayed above, while in the background a butcher in a white uniform demonstrates the making of a shish kebab is really not the kind of scene that would suggest what lies “behind”. But the images, like words, are misleading, they do not necessarily show what we might conclude at first sight; they offer resistance, are ambiguous and defy categorization into files.
For Morten, photography is perhaps like the bruise that Snowflake writes about in the introduction to the book Black and Blue, and its namesake series that he is presenting to Lauba’s visitors. It is like a blow that has left a mark on his being forever; upsetting the relations he inherited or learned about during his childhood. That blow could have happened in his youth, during some punk or rock'n'roll gig while photographing bands for a local music paper. Still, the change of colors and shapes that followed are extraordinary, and their irregular form combines an opus in which, besides music and dark, intriguing black and white photographs that tell a story about night events, there is much more worth exploring.
Black and Blue is dedicated to Oslo and is partly composed of photographs that Morten shot in previous series, often publishing them as photobooks. The photobook is his “basic medium”, and the eighteen publications, which from our point of view is an impressive number, he mainly designed himself leaving the images to share their own narrative – if there is one – with the visitors. In his hands Oslo looks familiar, like a place we know from somewhere, almost like a city we live in. There are no grandiose scenes, isolated buildings that are witness to its cultural and artistic history, or something important. He often only “snaps” people, taking photos through a tram window or from a bike late at night, while a bumpy road prevents him from achieving a still and stable frame. Raindrops and snowflakes give the gray, somewhat boring urban landscape in which there is nothing surprising, a needed playfulness, a softness that covers the layers left over after a late night out, like pee-stained walls and forgotten sneakers on the street. Morten’s Oslo opens up like a space in which we can find our way without a problem, passing between buildings on a well-trodden path through one of the meadows that resisted urbanization and planning. He captures small, ordinary things he encounters, directly, without beating around the bush – architectural details, children’s drawings on the walls, wild plants along the tracks.
Morten Andersen is dedicated to everyday life in all its manifestations. If we see this series as a unit, then it becomes like a novel about the city, its citizens and empty (non)places; it is a story about an ordinary life that is not devoid of comments, political, social or cultural ones. However, they are not in the foreground, by which this series will be remembered, but are “hidden” in the tattoos of men captured in a pub, in the scenes of drunken stumbling and neglected back facades. Potential criticism can be noticed on the photo of a metal tree guard protecting a nonexistent tree, in the scenes of streets not cleaned of snow and forbidden passages. Are we right if we experience them in that way? It is difficult to be completely certain, especially when, among the black and white images, we stumble upon carefully positioned photographs of unusual coloristic relations. Some of them are taken in clubs, others on the street, where he probably needed a trace of red in that urban landscape that seems completely devoid of color. Photographs from parks and the botanical garden, dreamy bluish shadows of tree branches on a rough stone floor and sensations in the sky that remind us that they were taken in the geographical area of the Northern Lights, are just isolated examples whose grainy film structure and morbid colors imply the relation towards the medium, but also point to the fact that they have been taken mainly with expired color films that he got from photographers when they switched to digital technology.
The photographs from the Blue Forest (Blå Skog) series are of a completely different character, taken in various parts of Norway in 2007–2008. Those could have been possible places of relaxation, if our attention was not captured by torn dead trees, parts of woods beaten by a storm, trunks in a horizontal position that reveals that their existence within that microcosm has ended a long time ago.
Wherever and whatever he captures, Morten does not synthesize or try to give an overall picture of the place, atmosphere or something else. He is guided by his own logic, fragments of what he once saw, but also what we saw. The photograph of a black dog that, by turning its head, looks back at him, enables us to remember his predecessors with whom he establishes a contemplative and visual communication. He tells a story of lonely individuals, asleep after a night out, people whose interests and behaviors we do not have to identify with, but we will be able to understand them. The aesthetics of film noir that he appropriates to a certain extent does not necessarily transmit pessimism or describe unwanted situations. We recognize the chance in the sense of touch, in the lights of a tram or metro station, which will give a vibrant lightness to the heaviness of the moment. Regardless of the fact that it was created due to a long exposition, old film or some other type of “uncertainty”.
Text: Sandra Križić Roban
Curators: Sandra Križić Roban and Vanja Žanko
Lauba team: Ria Ivandić, Nambi Kezić, Anamarija Montak
Technical support: Jure Strunje, Dominik Markušić
Translation: Zana Šaškin
Proofreading (eng): Susan Jakopec
Special thanks: Therese Aalberg
Visual identity: Studio Bestias