Thruth Is like Poetry
All photos: David Stjernholm
From the 12-metre-high ceiling vault at the Lower Gallery hangs a huge, apparently metal discus. With its slowly rotating mirror, it places us in a specific space, yet changes constantly. Thus, in a double sense, it is an illusionist work. It is made from acrylic sheets, riveted and ‘soldered’ together, so confusingly the structure resembles distressed, chromed steel. The surface was then laboriously scratched and fitted with fake finger marks as artificial, lifelike details.
This fact of everything not necessarily being what it seems is a recurring theme in Mikkel Carl’s work. This is also reflected in the title of this exhibition, Truth Is Like Poetry, referring to the fact that truth is never clear-cut but always aesthetic and open to interpretation – just like a poem. However, the sentence originates from an altercation in the US comedy drama, The Big Short about the 2008 financial crisis. The reply is: “...and most people fucking hate poetry.”
In this exhibition by Mikkel Carl, we cannot even be sure of the poetic truth of art in relation to reality despite the fact that it is this very aesthetic interaction with the things and spaces of the world that forms the very core of this artist’s work. His approach is usually site-specific or site-sensitive, as he puts it.
Like Mikkel Carl’s works, even the old church is not what it seems. As soon as you delve into its history or scratch the surface, you reveal other layers of meaning. Back in the 16th century, St. Nicholas Church was a stronghold of the Reformation and Hans Tausen - the leading Lutheran theologian of the time - was its pastor. At the time, Protestantism was all about the relationship of the individual to God’s truth. But over the years the church has had many different functions. For example, in the 1960s and 1970s, it was also a hub for the avant-garde art movement, Fluxus, and since 1981 it has been an art centre.
What interests Mikkel Carl is the interaction between context and object, and how it affects our bodily experience of space - but always in a minimalist way, with a simple statement and maximum effect. A good example is the fact that he has covered all the windows of the church red plastic film. Like a quasi-self-coloured mosaic, this manipulates the daylight - just as it always has done in churches.
His interest in materiality, signs and scale is also evident in the towering wall where the church’s altar would once have been. It is ostensibly built of reinforced concrete. In reality it is made up of painted panels, fitted onto an existing partition. In a way, the title of the work What Cannot Be Imagined Cannot Be Seen says it all.
The exhibition Truth Is Like Poetry invites us to make sense of everything we see whether or not it is what we think it is.