Reconsidering Everything (again)

The exhibition “Reconsidering Everything (again)” is Torben Ribe’s (born 1978) second solo show at Bendixen Contemporary Art.
Torben Ribe has produced a series of books for the exhibition. The books are quite large, so large, in fact, that they cannot be held. This explains why they stand or lie around the gallery floor, where they enter into a physical dialogue with the gallery guests. Like a kind of painted sculptures. The books may be looked at but not read, for it is not possible to open them. They are made of wooden mdf boards and subsequently painted and reworked in order to obtain a realistic book-like appearance. Scruffy and marked by wear and tear: the patina of old books.
Torben Ribe has chosen to focus only on the book’s cover and the book as an object. But what about the contents? The text? “Fill in with your own imagination’” the Danish-German fluxus artist Addi(Arthur) Köpcke sometimes wrote on his works. In the case of Torben Ribe, it is up to the viewer to fill in the books with one’s own imagination, helped along by the hints he has given through the strange titles on the covers, the purposely chosen typography, the thickness of the book, its color, the materials used, the graphic impression.
For example, “Nougat – utopian and scientific”, is one of the titles on a large, worn-out, turquoise green book held together by tape where it is falling apart. Underneath the strange title is an image of a nebula. Aha! That must mean that outer space is utopian nougat made accessible through science. What? No! That doesn’t make any sense. What absurd scientific discipline could be behind a publication of that kind? Other titles are “BANKRUPT – seven new critical paintings (part II)” and “Pedophilia in Contemporary Art – Dream, Fantasy and Marketing”.
The more or less fictitious titles hint at themes such as art, capitalism and cultural consumerism. The overall impression that we get of Torben Ribe’s work is of a distorted, humorous and slightly absurd reflection of the usual cultural consumerism; the devouring, pedophile hunger of this consumption for youth and tales of success. And its hysterical urge to deliver consumerism itself in an apocalyptic show about the end of art or total BANKRUPTCY. However, simultaneously with this critique, Torben Ribe presents us with a redeeming sense of humor and fantasy. Precisely this fact points towards the possibility for art to enter into a creative relationship with the consumerism that also part of the art world.
But who is the cultural consumer? It is the man or woman who visits a gallery, looks at art, reads a press release such as this one and is widely orientated in contemporary culture. The cultural consumer is also the undersigned as well as the artist himself. The exhibition “Reconsidering Everything (again)” gives us the opportunity to relate to the art scene and the cultural consumerism that we all share in as fantasizing, reflective and humorous way.

Torben Ribe

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