Aesthetics of separation (2006)

“The short way from red to blue. The long way from blue to red” (2006), duration 02:00 min, DV video

Exhibition history


“All of me” (2006) duration 01:53 min, DV video with audio

Exhibition history


“DMZ” (2006) original duration 04:30 min, DV video with audio

Exhibition history


Cathalogue text

Unn Fahlstrøm continues her exploration of the material possibilities of the video medium in the exhibition Aesthetics of Separation. Three video works are on display, “All of me”, “The short way from red to blue. The long way from blue to red” and “DMZ”, as well as printed stills from the films.

Fahlstrøm has previously collaborated with several composers to confront the visual– always emphasising precision, stringency and formal accuracy. The perception of depth is opposed by concealing the visible information and distorting the relationship between form and background. Thus, the artist accentuates the superficiality of the images, but at the same time integrates them into new sensuous relations

Concurrently, Fahlstrøm has adopted various musical ways to structure her images, and the videos Houndred rounds (2003), Non lo so (2004) and I reread the Odyssey last night (2005) are articulated almost like rhythmic flows:  The tension between sound and sight mobilises emotional energy from one sense to the other – from the eye to the ear and back again. Lastly, Fahlstrøm’s most important mode of operation is the spectator’s sensual interplay.

In this perspective Aesthetics of Separation might appear as a step in another direction: While Fahlstrøm previously has founded her worked on more sensual and intuitive principles, the aesthetic reflection is now explicited with a pronounced theme. The visual interplay between the works constitutes a soundboard that encourages a total understanding, yet does not distract from the material qualities of the individual pieces.

On the one hand, Fahlstrøms opens a more intimate sphere of references which easily can be interpreted as personal: “All of me” displays the artist’s lips while she sings, whereas “DMZ” is based on video recordings from the demilitarised zone at the border between North- and South-Korea. These signs of sentimentality and nostalgia are counterbalanced by the absoluteness of Fahlstrøm’s formal criteria. What immediately appears as a personal motive does not acquire the character of univocal affectivity, and is, in fact, represented in a tone of discreet humour.

Aesthetics of Separation plays with complex paradoxes that challenge the spectator by questioning how the visible is brought to be seen. “The short way from red to blue. The long way from blue to red.” presents the scale of colours as an asymmetric motive. As a colour print on aluminium, it depicts a horizontal configuration that can be perceived from left to right as one reads, but also the other way. Apparently, the same motive can be found on screen as to separate phase transitions. There are no exchanges or blurring between the isolated halves. They follow their own courses, but still the red and the blue finally change positions. The exhibition space is therefore the scene of a reflective process where the qualities of the works resonate and circulate through different dimensions and directions without the support of material continuity.

Aesthetics of Separation is the staging of a longing that immediately changes character to become something else. Through imperceptible nuances it shifts from being experienced in passive silence to become a repeatable performative potential. This longing is therefore doubled – it is motivated and remotivated, to be played out in new generous gestures and movements.

Camilla Shim Winge