Glenn Adamson, catalogue text, Art Ii – Biennale of northern environmental and sculpture art
If we took a holiday
Took some time to celebrate
Just one day out of life
It would be… it would be so nice
Has the prospect of a holiday ever struck terror into your heart? Perhaps you knew it would involve sitting in the back of a hot car, getting gradually sick on a long drive, your dad at the wheel. Or days of fishing for trout on a river, with a friend who, you suspected, might well turn out to be boring. Or perhaps you were on your way to a holiday camp: bad food and forced good humor.
If you’ve had such an experience, Linus Ersson would like you to forget it – but only for a moment. He wants to take you to a place where you can leave your worldly cares behind. Once you’re there, he’ll give you the mental toolkit to visualize just how far away you are. Why? Because it just might help you understand where you came from.
Ersson specializes in the art of the heterotopia, a term coined by Michel Foucault that means ‘other place.’ Heterotopias come in many varieties: positive, negative, and ambivalent; prisons, libraries, museums, colonies, and brothels. What all have in common is a suspension of the normal rules of everyday life, leading to both freedom and introspection. They are to space what childhood is to time.
To Foucault’s list, we should certainly add the campsite – a place where even the most basic tasks of eating, sleeping, and defecating take on novel and challenging qualities. Ersson’s sculpture for the Ii Biennale seizes upon this quiet strangeness. He has even given us tools and rules for negotiating this terrain, so ‘natural’ yet so unfamiliar. There are mosquito traps, which both signal and combat the hidden faults of this distant space. And some sound advice, which he sourced online at wikihow.com:
Sit down on a rock, some dry leaves, or simply on the ground.
Close your eyes, and picture in your mind the nature that surrounds you.
It sounds logical enough at first. But isn’t it a bit odd that you have to close your eyes in order to truly appreciate your surroundings? Nature, it seems, is never quite enough. There is always a bit of longing left over. Ersson’s work operates in that space of yearning, that margin where we know we’ve left home but can’t say we’re quite somewhere else yet.
Perhaps this also explains the fact that way out here, in the middle of the woods, when we feel we’ve finally arrived, there is an easel with a painting, which shows a sunset over a beautiful lake that we haven’t yet reached.
They say that half the fun is getting there. That must mean the other half is still to come.
Currently Director of the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York City
At the the of writing this text he was Head of Graduate Studies, V&A Museum, London