© Per Christian Brown
I CAN'T LEAVE THESE TREES, THEY HAVE TAKEN SOME OF MY SOUL Per Christian Brown & Sebastian Kusenberg
As time goes by, memory fades but unlike time it can be retrieved. A memory is never truly dead, just forgotten laying around in artifacts and nature.
I CAN’T LEAVE THESE TREES, THEY HAVE TAKEN SOME OF MY SOUL is the exhibition’s title chosen by the Norwegian photographer Per Christian Brown (1976) and the German photographer/sculptor Sebastian Kusenberg (1958). This title comes from a quote from D.H. Lawrence’s essay entitled “The Psychoanalysis of the Unconscious” leading us to question our intertwining with nature. Trees have become a multifaceted place where life and death, memories and history live together. This strong statement allows to create a common ground for the works of both artists in order to make a symbiotic dialogue inside the gallery.
Nature and humans are the original components from which all ideas, thoughts and debates derive. Human figures and nature are merging into a symbiotic, or at least utopian union leading us to think about the past and memories of our species and world. It is in the transmission and remembrance of the past that the practice of the two artists diverge. Indeed photography is the baseline of the exhibition, so are the contrasts that construct and mark the gallery’s space. The black and white prints differ from the color photographs displaying inanimate objects in contrast to the colorless living subjects. Despite their differences, these photographic and filmic figures offer themselves to our spectator’s gaze, they want/need our attention. Artists have created needy figures that only live with our presence so as to deliver a message.
For Per Christian Brown, it’s the roots that drive his work. To use his words, « The root is an archetype of something that is solid, and a giver of life to all plants. It has vitality, plunging down into the endless depths of the earth, deep in the soil where the dead lie at rest: a robust force of life amid decomposition ». So he composes with both video and photography to get inside these roots in order to discover their inner nature (cf.: Gaston Bachelard). Thanks to double exposure of the negatives, he intertwines his models with powerful roots of old trees. It results in a confusion between human and nature, in a painful harmony just like a modern Ovidian metamorphosis.
As for Sebastian Kusenberg, these porcelain figurine shards are not as innocent as they look. Originally, these fragile figures were supposed to illustrate a fairy tale or a fable, but now each piece conveys different stories invented by the artist. The reinvention of these Little People, as Kusenberg calls them, brings them back to life, making them contemporary witnesses intertwined with nature. The absurdity of the settings gives also to the porcelain figures a lighter narrative that unlocks new artistic perspectives. Trees are a place of life and death, a space of remembrance where these broken and incomplete artifacts of past lives can reach their full memory potential.