Q&A with Cornelius Jakhelln

The exhibition GewaltKunstwerk, curated by Cornelius Jakhelln, opened at Kristiansand Kunsthall 24th November. KUNSTforum asked him some questions about his practice and what inspires him.

A curator´s overview. Photo: Ave Pitchon

What´s this exhibition about?
GewaltKunstWerk is a project bringing artists from opposite camps together, with retrogarde painters facing artists of the avantgarde. The one common denominator for GewaltKunstWerk is, as the title implies, the work of art as a vehicle for destructive and violent forces, be it erosion, oblivion or war between nations, groups or individuals.

From the catalogue preface:

«Art is war & the sacred calling of the artist as soldier & fighter in the world of symbols.
Art is everything we can get away with. Art is what we are willing to die for.»

Thomas Kvam, detail. Photo: Ave Pitchon

Thomas Kvam’s art reflects on the Columbine school shooting on April 20th, 1999. Jennie Hagevik Bringaker dissects and explores the idea of the uniform as the artist’s working attire. Christopher Rådlund represents Scandinavia in a post-apocalyptic state. Morten Traavik stages an operation where White Knights appear in the roles of rock stars, the declared insane, terrorists, UN peacekeepers, aid workers and artists. Sindre Foss Skancke rapes and pillages the hagiographic tradition in his monumental paintings. Dennis Rudolph etches his way through utopian and dystopian themes from the histories German and Germanic. Valnoir tackles the topic of terrorism in a controversial revamping of the rightwing populist discourse. Jens Stegger Ledaal created the Art Militia and creates ominous field sculptures based on the hexagon.

Jens Stegger Ledaal, S-66. Photo: William Lacalmontie

What are you currently working on?
I will sit at Sturmgeist’s desk in the exhibition hall, and work on my novel Nazi Jihad. The Nazi Jihad manuscript is actually one of the works in the exhibition, placed alongside Erik Pirolt’s oil painting Sturmgeistand my 3. Regiment Berlin uniform. By exhibiting a manuscript of a novel in progress, I bring the literary creation into the gallery space, where the act of writing becomes a slow and silent performance.

Erik Pirolt, Sturmgeist. Photo: William Lacalmontie

Can you give a brief description of your curatorial practice, the process from idea to exhibition?
I go about the curatorial work as a writer, that is, with a stack of notebooks full of concepts and ideas. The GewaltKunstWerk title, for instance, was originally meant to be a song for my band Sturmgeist. For the last five years or so, I have been focusing on the Germanic strand of art and culture – which gives my projects a certain cohesion. GewaltKunstWerk is an open and clearly defined concept that has room for art of most schools and styles. Aesthetic diversity and curiosity are crucial values to me.

When it comes to the responsibility of the curator, I try to listen and give each artist plenty of space to occupy! I spend much of my social time with visual artists and art historians, so over the years I have learnt a thing or two about the art business – both the practical and the impractical sides! The work ethic of my painter friends do impress me.

What are your main concerns when creating an exhibition?
My main concern would have to be a healthy and positive working atmosphere among the artists! My work as a curator may also be likened to that of the music producer, whose chief role is to bring out the best in the musicians, to help them deliver a maximal performance. I certainly enjoyed working with the GewaltTeam! Seeing Thomas Kvam and Christopher Rådlund wreaking havoc together in Gutterommet was something of an event!

Christopher Rådlund. Photo: William Lacalmontie

Can you name a curator/ curatorial team or exhibition that has inspired you?
In 2001/2002 I attended the University of Sussex, studying aesthetics under Dr. Terry Diffey. During that year, I often visited the newly opened Tate Modern Museum – it was a seminal experience, walking through the Turbine Hall, being visually attacked by the oppressive atmosphere of the Rothko Room, discovering Anselm Kiefer for the first time! It was wonderful. I spent hours in the halls where the works of art were grouped thematically, and not formally – writing poems under the paintings. Several of the poems from Tate were published in my book Yggdraliv.

Dennis Rudolph. Photo: William Lacalmontie

Can you name a writer or book, fiction or theory that has inspired your curatorial practice?
Yes, definitely: Il Manifesto del futurismo by F.T. Marinetti; Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism by Fredric Jameson; The NSK State in Time; Sexual Personae by Camille Paglia; La vitesse de disparition by Paul Virilio; The coldness of Norwegian black metal.

The Boys´ Room, 3. Regiment Berlin. Photo: William Lacalmontie

Why is art important?
Art is the last free space in contemporary Scandinavia.

We need art that moves us, excites us and reminds us that human life is a both fateful and beautiful exception in nature. Monumental art makes us greater as human beings, not smaller – to say it with the words of art militant Avi Pitchon.

Art is the mirror where Dr. Jekyll looks Mr. Hyde in the eye.

See more photos at thirdrebel.blogspot.no/

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