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UKS Unge Kunstneres Samfund
UKS Unge Kunstneres Samfund
Kunstnernes Hus Wergelandsveien 17
0167 Oslo
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Unge Kunstneres Samfund | Eirik Sæther : Family Friendly
© Eirik Sæther.

Unge Kunstneres Samfund

Eirik Sæther

Family Friendly

May 20–June 18, 2017

Opening: May 19, 7–11pm

Unge Kunstneres Samfund
at Kunstnernes Hus
Wergelandsveien 17
0167 Oslo
Norway

www.uks.no
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UKS (Unge Kunstneres Samfund / The Young Artists’ Society) presents Eirik Sæther’s first institutional solo exhibition in Scandinavia, Family Friendly, opening 7pm, Friday 19 May, 2017. The exhibition is part of UKS’ guest programme at Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo, displaying new commissions by four individual, young artists from May 2017 through February 2018.

A truce is the momentary armistice between fighting fronts, individuals, or collectives. It is also the title of a core work in this exhibition. Expanding this concept of an uneasy balance, it approaches the artist’s body of work as an ongoing performance compiled from an amalgam of surrounding interests. Sæther’s practice is a constant negotiation, creating thick layers of collaged material catalyzed by the different sociolects and visual realms he encounters as an international artist and a broke Oslo slacker; an eternal teenager, a son, and a father; and a non-profit exhibitor, an occasional performative (identity) thief, and the creator of an irregular (fake?) fashion brand.

To be family friendly is a benevolent marker. Yet in a corporate culture, it is a double bind since it also shows a cynical motif: selling the product, i.e. hijacking the family for commercial employment and tuning the cultural output to its spectators by censoring away the world’s horrors. Toying with these layers, a central element in Sæther’s exhibition Family Friendly is a series of elevated platforms displaying baby-doll casts that recall the 1988 horror movie Child’s Play in which a doll breaks out of its amicable role.

Clad in glittery costumes and punk wigs, Sæther’s figurines are set amongst fake branches, graffiti spray cans, and home-décor letters, evoking simultaneously a tongue-in-cheek rip-off of uncanny, gory motifs, a catwalk, and an ikebana arrangement. A fixture behind these scenarios is the 1957 novel by Italo Calvino Baron in the Trees. The novel follows the adolescent, rampant boy of a noble family who decides to rebel against the prospects of adulthood (and assuming his proper role as Baron) by living his whole life in a tree, rejecting the decorum of aristocracy. However, in Sæther’s version, the stage of rebellion is no longer an ascetic site of nature but a theatrically dressed-up act that unfolds on custom-built pedestals imitating grand-scale flower vases. The withdrawal to an isolated treetop (akin to an artistic ivory tower) is replaced by a murkily embroidered stage design of miniature worlds or “doll houses” that merge (naive) visual directives of performative dissidence, such as the spray can, with the (family-friendly) ornamented tropes of bourgeois life. The figurative depiction of lofty solitude has thus turned into a clustered “decoration”, resonating with a recurring crux in Sæther’s practice: the deliberately failing attempt to escape from the institutionalized art world’s formalism and rules of engagement, to instead sink into a dirty realm of libidinal desire, pop culture, juvenile blogging, and blurred backstreet boyhood.

 

Eirik Sæther (b. 1983) graduated from Oslo Academy of the Arts’ MFA program in 2010. Previous exhibitions and projects include the solo show World’s Youngest at Édouard Montassut in Paris (2017), his participation in the 9th Berlin Biennale (2016), the solo exhibition INNESTEMME organized by Jenny’s at 47 Canal, New York (2015), and the exhibition Unshelling and Shelling Again, which he curated for Kunsthall Stavanger and Diorama, Oslo (2014). Upcoming exhibitions include a solo exhibition at Jenny’s in Los Angeles and participation in the Sculpture Biennial in Oslo, both taking place in Summer 2017. Further, Sæther has worked in various collaborative constellations, among these the artist group “Institutt for degenerert Kunst” (200815) and as a co-founder of the exhibition venue Diorama (2014).


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