Norwegian artist exhibits at RCA

 Type:Culture, Contemporary Art
 Location:England, London

For 'Various Small Fires', eleven artists including Knut Henrik Henriksen were invited to produce a range of work that reflects on physical and psychological space, in response to the Royal College of Art galleries. Physically transforming the galleries, these interventions range from the subtle to the imposing.

The exhibition, organised by MA Curating Contemporary Art graduating students, features international artists Ei Arakawa, Tony Chakar, Kajsa Dahlberg, Carmen Gheorghe, Knut Henrik Henriksen, Ian Kiaer, Koo Jeong-A, Laurent Montaron, Dominique Petitgand, Josephine Pryde and Florian Pumhösl.

The RCA galleries are an exhibition venue but also serve as a passageway for college staff and students, an enclosed as well as transitional setting. Given their hybrid nature, they have been considered as both the material and the environment for a number of encounters or small fires: dialogues between ideas, architecture, artworks and visitors. The artworks presented deal with several types of space. The peculiar mixture of overlapping concerns and the productive incompatibilities between them positions the show between thematic and non-thematic modes of exhibition-making.

Half the artists have been commissioned to create distinctive responses to the space, and several of them will be exhibiting in the UK for the first time. Norwegian artist Knut Henrik Henriksen’s commission for the Henry Moore gallery brings to the fore barely visible architectural lines and references Henry Moore in the form of a monumental forty metre long wall. In a contrasting tone, British artist Ian Kiaer and Korean artist Koo Jeong-A evoke the fragility of the building through the juxtaposition of different materials and scales. Even sound can dramatically open up different layers of space, as in the work of French artist Dominique Petitgand.

Language, time, memory, the public and the private are some of the aspects that are explored in Various Small Fires. While Swedish artist Kajsa Dahlberg’s work gathers the marginalia found in copies of Virginia Woolf’s 'A Room of One’s Own' from libraries throughout Sweden, causing us to reflect on the private and shared experience of reading, Japanese artist  Ei Arakawa offers a very exposed public performance that uses and unsettles the interaction of a group. His orchestrated event consists of the building and immediate dismantling of a large stage in thirty minutes. In a more prolonged experience, French artist Laurent Montaron’s inaccessible construction exhibits a film that is erased over time.

The catalogue for 'Various Small Fires' has been conceived as a printed extension of the exhibition space and features a newly commissioned version of a text by Lebanese architect, artist and writer Tony Chakar reflecting on the recent political events in Beirut in reference to Martyr’s Square, and text-based work by Dominique Petitgand exploring the sounds present in our surroundings.

Other aspects of the exhibition will be presented through the following events:

17 March, 4pm:
Parallel Ensemble: a momentary companion to Various Small Fires
Film and video programme
Lecture Theatre 1, Royal College of Art

22 March, 7pm:
1979 Pink Floyd as Reconstruction Mood
Performance by Ei Arakawa
Royal College of Art Galleries

3 April, 6pm:
On Catastrophic Space: The Evacuation of Hope as Strategy
Tony Chakar in conversation with Eyal Weizman
Goethe-Institut, 50 Princes Gate, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2PH

Various Small Fires
16 March – 10 April
(Closed: 5 & 6 April)
Royal College of Art Galleries
Kensington Gore
London SW7 2EU
Opening times: 10am-6pm daily. Free Admission.
Tel: 020 7590 4444

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Knut Henrik Henriksen, Aurora Borealis, 2006. Sculpture, wood.Installation view, 'All That is Solid Melts into Air', Frac des Pays de la Loire, Carquefou, France, Nov. 2006 – Jan. 2007Photo: Courtesy of the artist

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