Agnes Janich

Review 2

Desire is everywhere,

Astrid Hygen Meyer,

Klassekampen,

15.06.2012

Lust is one of art's oldest themes iand contemporary art takes it up.
Bergen Art Museum opens the exhibition Desire.

Astrid Hygen Meyer

A hot pink poster with a still from Marit Folstads video Stop Talking, 2008 with a banana pushed firmly into the artist's mouth, hanging for the time outside the Art Museum in Bergen's Stenersen Building. Is there anything embarrassing in this poster - or is it just another picture we hardly notice in the stream of  glossies covers and TV screens that surround us?

- We live in a sexualized world where we are bombarded by sexual expression, says curator of the Art Museums of Bergen, Eli Okkenhaug.

She was inspired by TV programs such as Paradise Hotel, Big Brother, pink bloggers and pornography, phenomena that do not live in isolation from contemporary art. There are many contemporary artists who work with sexuality and in the marginal zones of the pornographic, and some of them do it with style, as we can see in Desire, now on at the Bergen Art Museum.

- My point is that I've wanted to talk about identity searching in all its shades of grey, says Okkenhaug.

Most of the artists in the exhibition are female: Marit Wulff Andreassen penis drawings, Tina Winkhaus' stylized portraits of children, Sukran Moral's bordello performance, Laura Simmon's geisha video and Johanna Rytels' underscoring her own desires and sexual experiences, are just some of the artworks on display.

-In a number of cases, art it is not exactly problem-free, right?
- True, many works are quite rough and brutal. It's hard being young and hot and human and discover that from the tensions roused by desire, many can't just be dealt with and discarded. There is not much potential in the topic of the exhibition alone. It's all between the lines.
- You seem to observe that the degree of censorship and accessibility of around issues connected with desire has changed with technology. Is desire itself different today than it was in the past?
- It is a difficult and dated question. I think artists today decide to portray it in more shades of grey than yesterday's artists. But there are still taboo topics, such as young men. It is still difficult to talk about their sexuality.
- How was it, working on such a complex topic?
- There was a lot of making fun and toying with it among museum colleagues discussing the exhibition. It could be blunt and simplified, but it is complexity and shades of grey that are most interesting in sexuality.

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