I really don’t like that picture

Mariken Kramer and Eli Eines

The exhibition «I really don’t like that picture» at Galleri 54 by Eli Eines and Mariken Kramer is twofold. In the gallery’s innermost room there will be a screening of the film «Art 35,5 hours a week», which depicts the National Galley in Oslo and its art collection as seen from the point of view of the security guards who work there. In the entrance viewers will meet a sound installation as well as a series of objects that refer to a painting featured in the film.

For a number of year Eines and Kramer have worked as educators at the National Gallery where the security guards, in their encounter with the public, have been their closest colleagues «on the floor». The unique position of the security guards, who spend most of their working hours in direct contact with the art in the museum’s galleries, triggered the curiosity of Eines and Kramer. In what way, if any does the art in the museum touch the guards as individuals? Can the perspectives of the guards tell us something about the way we relate to and look at art? And what role should or could the security guards have at the museum?

In addition to the film, Eines and Kramer present a newly initiated piece of work in the gallery’s outer room. The artists regard this work as sketches for a wider film project, which will take a closer look at the Norwegian artist and avowed communist Arne Ekeland and his painting «The Last Shots». Through this painting Eines and Kramer will investigate, on a more general level, the relationship between art, aesthetical approaches and political conviction.

The painting «The Last Shots» has had a turbulent history since it was created in 1940 and is seen as Ekeland’s communist manifesto. Now this painting is the first work of art that the public meets when they enter the permanent collection of the National Gallery in Oslo. During the German occupation of Norway during World War II, Søren Onsager, a neo-impressionist painter was appointed director of the National Gallery by the National Socialist Government. He stigmatised many Norwegian artists and their work as being «entartete kunst» i.e. »degenerate art». Ekeland was represented with three works in the occupation forces exhibition «Art and Non-Art” at the national Gallery in 1942. Onsager would definitely not have liked the present placement of «The Final Shots».

In Galleri 54’s outer room one can listen to different voices describing Ekelands’s painting as they spontaneously experienced it. The exhibitors would like visitors to enter the painting by way of the interpretations of the painting seen though different sets of eyes. None of the interpreters had previously seen the painting and none of them had any prior knowledge of the artist or his political views. In the room highly symbolic object portrayed in the painting, will also be displayed

Eines og Kramer’s decision to call the exhibition in Galleri 54 «I really don’t like that picture» is based on a statement in the film «Art 35,5 hours a week». In the film Hallvard, one of the guards, maintains that «The final shots» is an expression of an ideology that glorifies violence, something he dislikes. He doesn’t have an opinion of the formal artistic aspects of the painting but is provoked by its content.

The painting has shown itself to be politically potent on several levels, but what impact does the painting have today? This year it is100 years since the Revolution in Russia; but does the painting communicate a revolutionary and utopian message in the present time? Does it have any relevance, do people understand the symbolism and message in the picture? And what about the violent aspects of the revolution and the tyranny which it fostered?

The exhibition «I really don’t like that picture» investigates the relationship between art, perspective and mediation. It also raises issues about the relationship between art as political action and as an aesthetical practice, while at the same time touching on the question of the role if any, art can have in promoting social change.