For her first solo show in the UK, Norwegian artist Ane Hjort Guttu presents two film works, each one set within a different educational setting: a primary school and an art school.
Time Passes, from which the exhibition takes its name, is a new work, co-commissioned by the South London Gallery (SLG) with Bergen Kunsthall where Hjort Guttu is the 2015 Bergen International Festival artist. It continues her investigation into issues of power, freedom and the role of art and artists within political systems. Also shown is an earlier film, Freedom Requires Free People, 2011, which documents a child’s reflections on the restrictive nature of rules and regulations within his daily life at school.
Freedom Requires Free People, 2011, follows a documentary format to explore issues of freedom and ownership of public space from the perspective of a primary school child who considers school to be a form of imprisonment and an infringement of his liberty. The central questions raised by the film, being those around access and ownership of public space, are taken further in Time Passes, 2015. This new film tells the story of a student who chooses to sit next to a beggar on the streets of Bergen as part of an art project. This action soon develops into an existential crisis for the student, who struggles to justify to herself how she can continue to make art in the face of the social inequality and injustice that she encounters each day outside the privileged and controlled environment of the art school. Eventually, the question of whether or not this action is “art” becomes meaningless for her, and the “project” is absorbed into her everyday life.
Time Passes takes up a challenging position amidst the current debate on the prohibition of begging in Norway. It draws together themes to which Hjort Guttu constantly returns in her works: not only those concerning public space, but also the scope of action for art and artists in the face of politically sensitive situations, how people can or should position themselves in relation to poverty and inequality; and whether effective political action is best achieved outside of the frame of art. Whilst Time Passes assumes a documentary format, in fact, it is scripted, staged and performed, harnessing the tension between art practice and creativity on one hand, and “real life” on the other.
Ane Hjort Guttu (b. 1971) is an artist, writer and curator based in Oslo. Through video works, picture collections, sculpture and photography her recent work has focused on the issues of power and freedom in the Scandinavian post-welfare state. Hjort Guttu also writes analytical as well as poetical texts, and several of her projects discuss art and architectural history. Latest projects and exhibitions include: This Place is Every Place, Tensta Konsthall, Sweden, 2014; Urbanisme Unitaire, Le Quartier, Centre d’Art Contemporain de Quimper, France, 2014; Future Light, Vienna Biennial Austria 2015; and eating or opening a window or just walking dully along, Bergen Kunsthall, Norway 2015. Forthcoming projects include: Europe – The Future of History, Kunsthaus Zurich, Switzerland 2015; Lorck Schive Art Prize, Trondheim, Norway, 2015. An extensive publication on Hjort Guttu’s work was recently published by Bergen Kunsthall/Sternberg Press.