In the name of Scandinavia and cult V1 Gallery opens two exhibitions Friday the 13th: the first exhibition, True Norwegian Black Metal, is the celebrated American photographer Peter Beste’s reflections of the darker side of Norway. The exhibition, St. Claude (whose title refers to the patron saint of sculpture), by the notorious Icelandic artist Johannes Atli Hinriksson’s is a ghost ride through the strange symbolic world of fantasy and reality.
PETER BESTE: TRUE NORWEGIAN BLACK METAL
Peter Beste is one of the most celebrated documentary photographers on the international contemporary art scene today. In particular Beste is famous for his precise and poetic portraits of subcultures. His seven year long portrayal of the gloomy worshippers of Norwegian black metal can be experienced from the mythical date Friday the 13th at V1 Gallery.
Beste’s documentary dives into the intense devotion of ’chaos and evil’. It depicts an existence, where darkness consumes light and where death is life. An obscure mix of Satanism, Nordic mythology, horror movies and extreme heavy metal forms the frame around this Norwegian subculture that aggressively forsakes Christianity and mainstream society in favour of Nordic heathen gods and self afflicted isolation. This violent subculture attracted international attention in the early 90s with a string of murders, suicides, church incinerations and grave desecrations, but in Beste’s pictures it is especially the bizarre and theatrical mannerism that fascinates. The men’s misanthropic scowl is complimented with a wardrobe rich in detail and a time consuming make-up that stands in stark contrast with Norway’s naked nature. In the spirit of Nietzsche the black metal culture fuses the Apollonian and Dionysian – an antagonistic harmony that beautifully enters the very silent monumental surroundings. Pentagrams, torture instruments, theatre blood, white face paint and black clothes are all essential elements in the almost teenage-like renunciation of normality. And even though it is difficult not to feel amused by the men’s vain postures the smile is wept of the face when met with their grim glare.
JOHANNES ATLI HINRIKSSON: ST.CLAUDE
The Norwegian self announced heathens are confronted with Johannes Atli Hinriksson’s occult obsessions. He traverses a universe consisting of symbols, totems, arch types, shamans and signs. Even though his art looks like a rejection of reality, Hinriksson’s works actually reflect and document contemporary Western life. Using mythology, religion, pirate fables, industry and tabloid media, he morbidly simulates the Western world where consumption is existence and flight from reality is habitual. The juvenile destruction contains – as in Beste’s photographs – a passage to a dark gravity where truths, lies, reality, fiction, destruction and creation are hurled together into one gritty human maelstrom. The furious sin flood – red like blood and black like death – covers his sculptures, collage, video and installation with grimy irony, white anger and a fluorescent societal critique much like Paul McCarthy’s mad and marvellous feverish mind trips.
THE BLACK THREAD
Like a stereoscopy the two exhibitions project a third dimension in the shape of question signs: where do you draw the line between firm conviction and blind superstition, morale and double standard, conception of reality and distortion of the truth? Beste’s and Hinriksson’s tales are by closer inspection not further from the stories we are told and tell ourselves. Their fables remind us to stay equally critical towards the adult truths and lies in the everyday as we are towards seemingly unknown universes.