Sannergata 25, 0557 Oslo, Norway
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13 In Memoriam: Lillebeth Foss (1930—2017)

12 Sigmund Skard: Plommer i egget

11 Nora Joung: Operette Morali

In Nora Joung’s exhibition Operette Morali, a motley patchwork comprising some five hundred roughly rectangular cut-outs from silk garments hangs suspended from Diorama’s ceiling. A set of blue eyes executed in oil paint beams menacingly from each of them. Gradually, as a result of the chemical reaction between the turpentine contained in the paint and the silk fibers, the delicate fabric will crumble. The first in the series, made about a year ago, are supposedly already coming apart. As I’m writing this, three days before the opening, only a handful of the them are up. Whenever someone paces by, the scattered flock is thrown into an undulating, ghostly dance.

The silk pieces still waiting to be mounted are for now piled over the armrests and on the seat of a wooden chair belonging to a dining room furniture set designed by Edvin Helseth. Initially, the chairs and table were acquired by Diorama last winter so we would have a place to sit during meetings, but they have the added benefit of suggesting to passersby who accidentally cast a glance through Dioramas storefront that meetings of “a professional character” occasionally take place here. Since Diorama’s physical premises for shorter or longer periods can appear deserted of physical activity—apart from the routine sweepings of an automated vacuum cleaner—drawing on a recognizable “corporate” interior scheme to portray Diorama as “a place of work” to the outside, makes sense.

Work of a tangible character is definitely happening now, even if it can’t be seen from the outside; long sheets of brown paper have been plastered over the windows to afford the artist some privacy while she assembles her exhibition. From where I’m sitting I see her forehead, nose and gold rimmed glasses protrude behind a pillar in the center of the room, where she squats on the floor answering emails on her laptop. Martin is busy taking down a row of empty museum quality glass frames, which up until last week— when Kunst på Arbeidsplassen came to pick them up, thereby signaling the end of our business together—held six watercolors by late Norwegian painter Jakob Weidemann. The intensely blue wall to wall carpet, mimicking the color of the vinyl decorations that formerly adorned the window facade facing the street, is soon to go, along with its rich texture of beer and coffee spills, sesame seeds from a Kurt Johannessen performance, dust and litter. Four large Yamaha speakers connected to two mixing tables via a clump of tangled cables, stand on the floor in a haphazard arrangement.

Operette Morali will also include a recording of a party held at Diorama earlier this summer, edited into a soundtrack for the exhibition; the hum of indistinct chattering is interspersed with sudden blocks of silence, leaving the viewer to temporarily maneuver the exhibition without the ambience of agreeable social intercourse to shield them. Another speaker issues a solemn monologue which details the historical impact of the establishing of silk production in the West after its carefully guarded prerequisite knowledge and materials eventually found their way out of China. The frequent use of the word “and” at the start of sentences, enhances the sermon like quality of the text.

The confrontational stares affixed to the silk not only transform these former garments into “autodestructive paintings” by chemically dissolving them, they also add a cartoonish expression of indignation to the process of disintegration that the fabric undergoes. The criticality associated—via the late Gustav Metzger—with the concept of an autodestructive painting, is here at the same time amplified, by the paintings’ accusing eyes, and undermined, by the exhibition veering into comedy. The title fittingly pairs the moral earnestness of artistic critique with a musical genre, the “operetta”, defined by its “light” and “amusing” subjects. Operette Morali’s fluttering textiles and injunctions that the viewer come to some sort of recognition of complicity, render the atmosphere at Diorama thick with a moral anxiety, but which it refuses to find a way to efficiently deliver.

—Nora Young: Operette Morali, 25 August — 1 October 2017, Diorama, Sannergata 25, 0557 Oslo

10 Exhibition A 025: Jakob Weidemann

09 Exhibition Y 003: Multiples

08 Exhibition Y 009: International Photography & Conceptual Art

07 Calle Segelberg: Logo till 30-åriga kriget

06 Sanna Helena Berger: The edge must be scalloped

05 Lise Soskolne: Bethenny

04 Nils Rundgren: The Underbidder

03 Sigmund Skard: Plommer i egget

02 Axel Ekwall: Big Sur

01 Andreas Slominski: A Hunt for Optimism