The Spring Exhibition 2018 - You should clean yourself

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From 6th to 29th of April the annual exhibition, Várframsýningin, arranged by Føroysk Myndlistafólk, the Faroese Artist Society, can be seen in the National Gallery of the Faroe Islands. This is an open-submission show which every year is arranged and selected by different members of the Faroese Artist Society. This years organizers are Annika Gregoriussen, Randi Samsonsen and Jón Sonni Jensen.

Participating in the exhibition this year: Alda Mohr Eyðunardóttir, Anna Kathrina Højgaard, Astri Luihn, Bjarni Mohr, Bjørg Jacobsen, Dan Helgi í Gong, Jana Jónhardsdóttir, Jóhan Martin Christiansen, Maria Smith, Nicolina Højgaard, Pernille Mejslov, Vagnur Dam, Vígdis Petersen and Zacharias Heinesen.

Many of the participators are quite young, several of them are quite new to art. This cannot be said about Jóhan Martin Christiansen, he is a quite experienced artist who has created several solo shows the last years. Jóhan Martin Christiansen exhibits two interesting works made by dark coloured cloth diapers, that are put together in monumental hanging compositions. 

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The perhaps youngest appearing artwork is the springy painting by nestor amongst the Faroese artists, Zacharias Heinesen. The title “kan-din-sky” is a playful hint to the abstract pioneer artist, Wassily Kandinsky, as is the colourful abstract composition in shimmering, blue and orange, yellow, purple and pink squares and rectangular forms.

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The artist Dan Helgi í Gong has for many years worked as a DJ and a sound artist. His first appearance in the Spring Exhibition was only two years ago. His video installation in this years exhibition is called  "You Should Clean Yourself" and deals with shame. It shows the artist lying/sitting in a tub like a little boy, performing dance movements while he is moving around. The tub filled with water is also present physically in the exhibition. This is of course hardly the first time in art history we experience an artist posing naked. But in the small society of the Faroe Islands this is a very courageous self portrait and a work of art with lots of interesting allusions to childhood and sexuality as it also deals with and poses questions to masculinity. According to the title it´s about shame and the effort to wash the shame away. The effort seems to be hopeless since it´s bound to the body and person. 

We don´t often see queer art in the Faroe Islands and therefore the video installation by Dan Helgi í Gong seems refreshing. Gay, bisexual, and transgender rights in the Faroe Islands are relatively similar to that of Denmark, but the progress of LGBT rights has been much slower and it was not untill april 2016, the Faroese Parliament passed legislation legalizing civil same-sex marriage on the Faroes, recognizing same-sex marriages established in Denmark and abroad and allowing same-sex adoption. 

The video installation is rather dark with a blue light which give allusions to classic video installations by pioneer Bruce Nauman and maybe a poster from the old movie Blaue Engel with the german actress and singer, Marlene Dietrich posing. In the video "You Should Clean Yourself" we sense a sort of development during 2.09 minutes (the sound lasts longer) from a closed to a more open and expressive body language. The contrast between the childlike position in the tub and the somewhat sexualized body language makes the work both grotesque and very moving. If the person in the tub was a woman, then this would be a rather standard pinup position – women have frequently been staged as sexualized babies with large ignorant eyes in tubs, on cars, in showers. The plastic tub is an interesting, but rather understated part of the installation

The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 1pm to 4pm. Also open on Flagday, 25th of April and General Prayer Day, 27th of April.