Kasper Sonne
26 Jan – 3 Mar 2013

View Images

Opening: 26 January 2013, 5–9 pm

If one were to draw a picture of Danish artist Kasper Sonne based purely on the aesthetics of his work, the portrait would most likely compare itself to an unsettling character in a film noire. An imposing figure of an older generation from the cold war, always dressed in black, our imaginative character talks about vast governmental conspiracies, his distinct distain in all things good and his absolute distrust in the integrity of the human race. His works, likewise, portray a bleak outlook on the world. Physically often dark, predominately black that is, they tell tales of institutional abuse, the danger of power and control, freedom and identity - and the transgressions thereof.

The title of the exhibition, ‘All Information is Subject to Change’ is taken from a phrase used in virtually every industry around the world, as a means to reserve the right to make changes without further notice or legal repercussions. The phrase thus repeals any responsibility of the communicated. The title also summarizes Sonne's conceptual strategies, revolving around the notion of representation. At the center of Sonne's thought, one is confronted with signifiers of violence, issues of identity, the questioning of borders and territories, as well as the use of language and the inherent power of words. Absent of any romanticism or nostalgia, Sonne investigates the construction of meaning and its subsequent and often logical deconstruction, but his most fundamental interest lays in exploring and exposing dichotomies, such as the possibility of 'creation through destruction'.

New Religion, a 9 meter long and 2.5 ton heavy installation, constitutes the central piece of Sonne’s exhibition at SALTS. Made from 25 steel tubes that are suspended from the ceiling in chains, the piece forms a large-scale steel curtain, dividing the exhibition space in two. Making it impossible for the viewer to access the space in its entirety, one is forced to push his way through the weighty barrier, in order to see the full exhibition. The potential danger of having to squeeze through the suspended steel tubes is underscored by the noise they make, when they swing into each other. However, this amplified sound - much reminiscent of chimes, is also echoed by the impact the tubes have on the gallery walls, which in direct correlation are gradually destroyed throughout the exhibitions cycle. The exhibition also contains two separate series of works that both deal with the concept of performance. Borderline (new territories), No. 11, 12 and 13 are three monochrome paintings that, after perfect completion, were set on fire by the artist. By letting the flames eat away plenty of the canvas before he extinguishes them, Sonne is not only exposing the structure beneath the canvas, but also taking this very surface as a means of spatial organization. Thus Sonne’s burned paintings clearly relate to Luciano Fontana’s sliced canvases through a violent gesture of a physical nature, that to Fontana summarized his manifesto's main goal; to liberate the work from any painterly and propaganda based rhetoric and to push it into the physical space. In the other series, Untitled (carpet), No. 5 and 6, two pieces of ordinary commercial carpets were hand colored by Sonne and then laid out on the floor. As is the case with the floor pieces by the Minimalist artist Carl Andre, the visitors are presented with the dilemma of whether to walk on Sonne’s work or not. The carpets will be permanently 'damaged' if they do, as they will leave a visible imprint on the otherwise monochrome surface, in the form of footprints, dirt and scuffs. Once the exhibition is finished, the carpet pieces will be hung on the walls of a different location, assuming the role of paintings, a memento mori, a fleeting moment of transgression captured, a record of temporality.

While the title 'All Information is Subject to Change' sets the overall tone of Sonne’s exhibition at SALTS, and also spells out the sensibility of his work in general, it certainly doesn't refer to the integrity of the artwork or the artists intentions. Rather it points towards the viewers experience and cognitive reaction when encountering the work. The instability of one's own position towards the reading of the work, and the reaction that may or may not follow, is clearly what Sonne is most interested in conjuring.

The conversation is arduous and opinionated, and our character keeps looking over his shoulder with an overzealous taste for paranoia. Purely a figment of our imagination, our character paints a picture of stereotypes and clichés, of symbols and signifiers and so does his work. But it's just a pretense, naturally.

Kasper Sonne (b. 1974 in Copenhagen, Denmark) studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation. This is his first exhibition in Switzerland. He currently lives and works in New York.

The exhibition is generously supported by the Danish Arts Council.

Photography: courtesy Gunnar Meier