Bjoern Dahlem «Ground Control Office» 2001.

submitted on Sat, 2006-04-29 16:31. | | |

Ground control office, 2001
roofing slats, neon tubes, carpet, videos
courtesy of Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York.

It is not only from the sphere of fiction that Björn Dahlem draws inspiration; his work is informed by the whole universe provided by the language of popular science, its imagery, models, and phrases. He translates these into idiosyncratic sculptural constructions and architectural installations, based on thorough and wide-ranging historical and scientific research. Although he employs well-established theoretical models of the microcosm and macrocosm, theories pale in confrontation with the stunning virtuosity of his cunning inventions, the bold elegance of the linear constructions he easily knocks up into the exhibition space, his use of frugal means and concise humor. Orchestrated from cheap, standardized, and overfamiliar Do It Yourself materials and the occasional sausage or cucumber, his works point to a different world behind the physical models that they appear to illustrate.

Coma Sculpture, 2003
mixed media
courtesy of Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York.

Bjoern Dahlem, Ground Control Office coma hynotica, 2001
Coma Hypnotica

It was of course in a dream that Dahlem himself experienced a trip into his inner self. He was at a friend’s place when suddenly gravitation shifted into a strange diagonal. This movement produced a cosmic whirl resembling the space/time curvature of a black hole, which sucked him in to the depths of his very soul, which turned out to be an oddly shaped confined space with wall-to-wall tiling. On closer inspection he found that the tiles weren’t fixed permanently, but stuck to the wall like magnets on a refrigerator door. Curious, he exchanged two tiles, but before he could put them back in their original positions, he was sucked out of himself again and spat back into the normality of his friend’s place. Since then, he says, he has felt an increasing anxiety. After all, he meddled not only with his soul but also with the cosmic order. At the Hammer he is setting the record straight.

Bjoern Dahlem, Ground Control Office andromeda, 2001

Solaris, Björn Dahlem’s spectacular new installation at the Hammer Museum, owes its title to the fictional planet in the eponymous 1972 film by Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, based on a novel by Polish science fiction writer Stanislaw Lem. The planet itself, under the close scrutiny of scientists trying to determine the reasons for inexplicable phenomena that suggest the presence of a nonhuman and completely alien intelligence, is the film’s unlikely protagonist. The scientists learn that it is capable of playing tricks on the human mind—reproducing reflections of their astronauts’ memories, fears, dreams, and wishes—and they are forced to travel to the inner realms of human nature and culture. It is as if Hollywood, the dream factory itself, has come to life on this primeval soup of a planet.