Waldemar Thranes gate 51, 0173 Oslo
Entrance: Casparis gate
Thursday - Sunday 12-4 pm
or by appointment
TOKONOMA at MELK
2 – 24 June, opening reception 1 June, 7-9 pm
On 5 April 1994, Kurt Cobain’s body was found with a suicide note which read (in part):
... when we’re backstage and the lights go out and the manic roar of the crowd begins, it doesn’t affect me the way in which it did for Freddy [sic] Mercury, who seemed to love, relish in the love and adoration from the crowd which is something I totally admire and envy. The fact is, I can’t fool you, any one of you. It simply isn’t fair to you or me. The worst crime I can think of would be to rip people off by faking it and pretending as if I’m having 100 % fun. Sometimes I feel as if I should have a punch-in time clock before I walk out on stage. I’ve tried everything in my power to appreciate it (and I do, God, believe me I do, but it’s not enough). I appreciate the fact that I and we have affected and entertained a lot of people. I must be one of those narcissists who only appreciate things when they’re gone.
Dust Biter is a video work situated within the forms of audio-visual remix and Plunderphonics. It seduces the audience by translating Freddie Mercury’s body, breath, and voice into an intricate rhythm of pure energy, an orgasmic force to reboot our metabolism. Projected onto three screens that surround the viewers, the audience become immersed in the work.
The samples move through Mercury’s career. We see the progression of production values in an inverse relationship to his publicly failing health. Because his was a public body, his public life and death are markers of our own mortality. As in memento mori the tension between immortality and mortality transmits energy, pure immanence.
At stake are the cultural politics implicit in the territorialization of gender and sexuality as mediated by screen technologies. Freddie Mercury embodies the redefining of gender and sexuality, both as a performance and a virtual field of possibility. Dust Biter condenses a marginal, hyper-sexual masculinity that for a short moment in time infiltrated the mainstream.
Mainstream audio-visual culture is a principal substrate of contemporary politics. As John Oswald stated in his seminal 1985 work ‘Plunderphonics, or Audio Piracy as a Compositional Prerogative’: "A sampler, is ... simultaneously a documenting device and a creative one, in effect reducing a distinction manifested by copyright."
Therefore, translating, transforming and circulating images and audio (through remix forms such as sampling and Vapourwave), has never been more politically important than it is at this moment.
Martin White (b. 1978, Australia) lives and works in Oslo. White works at the intersection of documentary and speculation and his practice takes the form of films, video installations, prints and lecture performances. White dissects social marginality and sociopolitical power structures, intending to unsettle systems beyond those of the art world. His conceptual motivations pivot on issues relating to social politics and cultural history.
White studied Fine Art at RMIT in Melbourne and completed his MFA at the Norwegian National Academy of Art in Oslo in 2017. In 2002, he received a post-graduate diploma in Dramatic Art from the VCA in Melbourne. He has previously directed theatre, film and television. White’s work has been shown at film and performance festivals internationally and he has exhibited in group shows in Melbourne, Malmö and Oslo. He has upcoming solo shows at Podium and Oslo Kunstforening, both in 2019. Alongside his artistic practice, White has published essays and reviews, sat on award and grant panels, worked as a researcher, occasionally taught and works as a gallery exhibition manager.
Tokonoma is an exhibition programme that launched in Oslo in 2018. The programme is presented at various sites in collaboration with artists and artist-run galleries and initiatives. Tokonoma is rooted in pooling resources and mutually beneficial intellectual and practical exchanges on both long- and short-term bases, and combines commercial activity with non-commercial modes of display. Martin White, Dust Biter, is Tokonoma’s inaugural show and is a collaboration springing from mutual friendship and a mutually beneficial desire to create a public moment.
The exhibition will be on view at MELK, Waldemar Thranes gate 51, 0173 Oslo.